For those unfortunate souls (present company included) who were unable to attend Tom Waits' 2008 Glitter and Doom tour comes this gracious holiday present: a two-disc, 18-track compendium of the tour.
The second disc, "Tom Tales," is one long track of assorted stage banter that, believe it or not, is worth several spins. Sample: Male fan: "Hey Tom, I wanna have your baby!" Tom: "Oh, Jesus, well you know, I think nowadays it's possible. See my manager, Stuart Ross, but I gotta tell you, my sperm is very expensive now. I'm like a fucking racehorse, baby!"
As for the music, the 17-track first disc is a treat of junkyard stomps and graveyard dirges. Compiled by Waits to mimic a set from the tour, the album opens with the madcap concoction "Lucinda/Ain' Goin' Down to the Well No Mo'," which masterfully blends the feral barks and slinking rhythm of "Lucinda" into the convulsive gypsy blues of "Ain' Goin' Down."
The tour mostly focused on Waits' recent albums. There is a great lurching version of "Singapore" and a heartrending rendition of "Falling Down." Meanwhile, Bone Machine (Waits' best album of the '90s) gets proper dues: "Dirt in the Ground" is menacing, with vamping guitar undercutting Waits' guttural baritone; "Goin' Out West" uses its heavy percussion and shuffling guitar jabs as raucous accompaniments to Waits' salty poetics; and "Such a Scream" is a jerky showstopper.
Sole complaint: It's not nearly long enough; maybe next time, Waits should go for a nice, round 10-disc set.