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When I hear Closing Time, I think of a moody Frank Sinatra—as well as the songs of Paul Simon, Randy Newman, and Hoagy Carmichael.
I would listen to this album in an after-hours dive bar only locals frequent.
The record would make a great soundtrack about a day in the life of a drifter.
When Asylum Records founder David Geffen stumbled onto Tom Waits at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in 1972, he found a unique talent. By Waits’ own admission, he’d always been a rebel among rebels—rejecting the embroidered denim and trendier folk-rock of the time in favor of Salvation Army castoffs, Beat-era poetry, and a hard-living Charles Bukowski lifestyle. On Closing Time, his impressive debut, the then-24-year-old singer reminds listeners that frank, world-weary observations can be more therapeutic than precious, introspective self-analysis. From metaphorical tracks like “Ol’ 55” and “Virginia Avenue” to the heartbreaking cinematic coda of the final track, Closing Time functions as a collection of minor-key stories made for the kind of late-night reassessment that leads to starting over fresh the next morning.
Produced by Jerry Yester of the Lovin’ Spoonful, Closing Time proves a fairly straightforward sonic affair. While a number of orchestral tracks possess warmth, a live and unadorned feel largely distinguishes the music. According to several accounts, Yester wanted to make a folk record while Waits was more interested in pursuing a smoky jazz approach. The tension appears as the set veers from acoustic numbers such as “I Hope That You Don’t Fall in Love with Me” to the lounge vamp of “Midnight Lullaby” and “Little Trip to Heaven.”
Anti-’s 2018 reissue of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s remaster is simply the worst version of the album I’ve ever heard. Compared to the original 1973 pressing, the sonics are rolled off, resulting in distant and lost instrumentation. The opening track serves as a prime example. Waits’ voice and piano sound as if they’ve been set at least a dozen feet further from the microphones. The eventual swell lacks the heft and gravitas of the original. What’s worse, the label on my copy has what appears to be water damage or glue separation that produced a bubble effect on the label around the spindle hole. The vinyl surface is also noisy and rife with pops. Listening to the high-resolution download of Closing Time further confirms something went massively wrong with the execution of Anti’s LP. Rhino’s 2010 analog version remains excellent and more present than the original. It’s the one to get.
[UPDATE]: Anti- has addressed the pressing issues outlined in VR’s review and is offering replacement vinyl to any purchasers of defect copies. Statement and link below. VR purchased its review copy and we’ll try and get a replacement copy and update further.
It has come to our attention that the recent pressing of Tom Waits’ Closing Time (both black and clear vinyl versions) suffers from severe surface noise due to a manufacturing issue.
We are happy to report that the issue has been fixed and are offering everyone who purchased a copy of the flawed LP a replacement. Please fill out the form at the following link, and we will let you know when you can expect your new record.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
Last chance to change your mind...