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Tom Waits takes his fans to the circus



TOM WAITS Glitter and Doom Live (Anti)

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus," is the last film to feature Heath Ledger, but what may have a more lasting impression is the presence of singer-songwriter Tom Waits as the devil, a fedora-wearing dude with a pencil-thin mustache and a wild sense of mischief.

Minus the mustache, that's the guy you see on the cover of Glitter and Doom Live, a double-disc album culled from Waits' recent tour. If you haven't listened to Waits in a while - say 20 years or so - he's long shucked the cocktail jive lounge act in favor of a gritty sound marked by eclectic instrumentation and his gravel-growl vocals.

Waits made the cover of Blues Revue magazine a few years back, and you can hear that blues influence on songs like the rootsy "Get Behind the Mule," the harmonica-laced "Going out West" and the somber "Dirt in the Ground." Waits' playful side comes out on "Such a Scream" and "Metropolitan Glide," and "Live Circus" (but not "playful" in the sense that you would let this character babysit your kids.)

The second disc features Waits' between songs spoken-word stories, best described as stand-up comedy from the kind of bar you might visit in "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus." You know, the one where the guy with the fedora and the pencil-thin mustache greets you at the door.


ISAAC HAYES Shaft: Deluxe Edition (Stax)

Decades before he joined the cast of "South Park" as the voice of chef - or joined the Church of Scientology - Isaac Hayes was celebrated as the genius behind the soundtrack for "Shaft," an album that arguably has had a longer shelf life than the "blaxploitation" film that spawned it. And that wah-wah pedal guitar on the title track -- the chicka-chicka-chicka-chicka riff - is among the most imitated in rock history.

This new edition of the 1971 classic - on which Hayes demonstrated his talent for blending rock, funk, pop elements and majestic orchestration -- doesn't add much, just great sound, extensive liner notes and a 2009 mix of the hit "Theme from Shaft."

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Mike Cote

Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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