Back in 2006, Tom Waits released an outtakes and rarities compilation called Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards. At 56 tracks, it had a lot – but not nearly everything. So fans dutifully compiled a companion collection of everything left on the cutting room floor, cleverly titled Forgotten Orphans. In addition to more outtakes and b-sides, this fan bootleg included something the main set lacked: live performances. Many of those were super-rare covers, none of which have ever been officially released. But they are worth hearing. Tom Waits is widely regarded as an excellent songwriter, but these covers showcase Tom Waits’ power as a song interpreter. He’s never gone the Bob Dylan route of periodic forays into cover albums, but if he ever did, these songs show how great such an album could be.
When They Might Be Giants released a new “electronic” version of their 1990 single “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” one of our writers inquired about whether it was okay to write about a band covering themselves. We were about to say something along the lines of “ehhh…” when we remembered, oh yeah, “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” has always been a cover. They Might Be Giants’ version is actually a cover of a Four Lads song from 1953, so this weird new electropop version is really them covering their earlier cover. Fair game!