Mule Variations


Seven years and a couple of theatrical projects and movie soundtracks after the masterful Bone Machine, Tom Waits returned with Mule Variations, a longer (16 tracks, 71 minutes) collection of songs that kept the rough-hewn feel of its predecessor, but also looked backward to his ’80s work. “Get Behind The Mule” is a sonic companion to “Gun Street Girl” from Rain Dogs, and the album closer, “Come On Up To The House,” recalls that album’s “Anywhere I Lay My Head.” But this isn’t a mere rehash — “What’s He Building In There?” is an eerie poetic interlude, and “Cold Water” is a harsh, noisy blues written from the perspective of a homeless man and played on a seriously cranked-up electric guitar. This album’s peaks are pretty high, but it drifts into forgettability a few times too often to make it one of his classics.

Phil Freeman

Glitter Wolf cover

Glitter Wolf

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom
Detours cover


Sheryl Crow
Tracy Chapman cover

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman
Krallice cover


Big Band cover

Big Band

Julius Hemphill
Raw Materials and Residuals cover

Raw Materials and Residuals

Famoudou Don Moye, Julius Hemphill, Abdul Wadud
Koksofen cover


Caspar Brötzmann Massaker