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When you think of Tom Waits, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably his voice. One critic described it as “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” An anonymous fan said it sounded like Tom “smoked a pack of cigarettes and swallowed a pack of razor blades…late at night. After not sleeping for three days.” Clearly this is an acquired taste.
Pascal Fricke’s Tom Waits tribute disc Bangin’ on the Table with an Old Tin Cup requires no such effort. Fricke (aka. “waitswatcher“) uses ukulele, guitar, mandolin, percussion and more to create instrumental masterpieces that excavate the haunting melodies buried deep underground. Each one’s more gorgeous than the last, evoking a fragile beauty that lifts you up then breaks your heart.
A hardcore fan, Fricke avoids the obvious choices. No “Tom Traubert’s Blues” here. No “Ol’ 55,” “Downtown Train,” or “Jersey Girl” either. A lot of the songs he chooses are from Tom’s recent catalog; if you know 2006’s Orphans collection, you’re in luck. If you don’t, you’re in luck too. These songs stand on their own regardless of your familiarity with the deep cuts.