Bone Machine

Bone Machine is the eleventh studio album by American singer and musician Tom Waits, released by Island Records on September 8, 1992. It won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and features guest appearances by David Hidalgo, Les Claypool, Bryan Mantia, and Keith Richards. The album marked Waits' return to studio albums, coming five years after his previous effort Franks Wild Years (1987).

Bone Machine
TomWaits-BoneMachine.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 8, 1992
RecordedPrairie Sun Recording
(Cotati, California)
Genre
Length53:30
LabelIsland
Producer
Tom Waits chronology
Night on Earth
(1992)
Bone Machine
(1992)
The Black Rider
(1993)

Recorded in a room in the cellar area of Prairie Sun Recording studios, described by Waits as "just a cement floor and a hot water heater", the album is often noted for its rough, stripped-down, percussion-heavy style, as well as its dark lyrical themes revolving around death and chaos. The album cover—a blurry, black-and-white, close-up image of Waits apparently screaming while wearing a horned skullcap and protective goggles—was taken by filmmaker Jesse Dylan, son of Bob Dylan.[1]

Bone Machine was included on many "Best Albums of the 1990s" lists, being ranked at No. 49 by Pitchfork[2] and No. 53 by Rolling Stone.[3] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[4]

Recording and productionEdit

Bone Machine was recorded and produced entirely at the Prairie Sun Recording studios in Cotati, California, in a room of Studio C known as "the Waits Room", located in the old cement hatchery rooms of the cellar of the buildings. Prairie Sun's studio head Mark "Mooka" Rennick said, "[Waits] gravitated toward these 'echo' rooms and created the Bone Machine aural landscape. [...] What we like about Tom is that he is a musicologist. And he has a tremendous ear. His talent is a national treasure."[5]

Waits said of the bare-bones studio, "I found a great room to work in, it's just a cement floor and a hot water heater. Okay, we'll do it here. It's got some good echo."[6] References to the recording environment and process were made in the field-recorded interview segments made for the promotional CD release, Bone Machine: The Operator's Manual, which threaded together full studio tracks and conversation for a pre-recorded radio show format.

Bone Machine was the first Waits album on which he played drums and percussion extensively. In 1992, Waits stated: "I like to play drums when I'm angry. At home I have a metal instrument called a conundrum with a lot of things hanging off it that I've found - metal objects - and I like playing it with a hammer. I love it. Drumming is therapeutic. I wish I'd found it when I was younger."[7]

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Earth Died Screaming"Tom Waits3:39
2."Dirt in the Ground"4:08
3."Such a Scream"Waits2:07
4."All Stripped Down"Waits3:04
5."Who Are You"
  • Waits
  • Brennan
3:58
6."The Ocean Doesn't Want Me"Waits1:51
7."Jesus Gonna Be Here"Waits3:21
8."A Little Rain"
  • Waits
  • Brennan
2:58
9."In the Colosseum"
  • Waits
  • Brennan
4:50
10."Goin' Out West"
  • Waits
  • Brennan
3:19
11."Murder in the Red Barn"
  • Waits
  • Brennan
4:29
12."Black Wings"
  • Waits
  • Brennan
4:37
13."Whistle Down the Wind"Waits4:36
14."I Don't Wanna Grow Up"
  • Waits
  • Brennan
2:31
15."Let Me Get Up on It"Waits0:55
16."That Feel"3:11

PersonnelEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [8]
Chicago Tribune    [9]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[10]
Los Angeles Times    [11]
Mojo     [12]
Q     [13]
Rolling Stone     [14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [15]
Select5/5[16]
Uncut     [17]

PerformanceEdit

  • Tom Waits – lead vocals (all tracks), Chamberlin (1, 6, 9), percussion (1, 3–6, 15), guitar (1, 3, 5, 12, 14, 16), sticks (1), piano (2, 13), upright bass (7), conundrum (9), drums (10–12, 16), acoustic guitar (14)
  • Bryan Mantia – drums (3, 9)
  • Kathleen Brennan – sticks (1)
  • Ralph Carney – alto saxophone (2, 3), tenor saxophone (2, 3), bass clarinet (2)
  • Les Claypool – bass guitar (1)
  • Joe Gore – guitar (4, 10, 12)
  • David Hidalgo – violin (13), accordion (13)
  • Joe Marquez – sticks (1), banjo (11)
  • David Phillips – pedal steel guitar (8, 13), steel guitar (16)
  • Keith Richards – guitar (16), backing vocals (16)
  • Larry Taylor – upright bass (1, 2, 4, 5, 8–12, 14, 16), guitar (7)
  • Waddy Wachtel – guitar (16)

ProductionEdit

  • Tom Waits – producer
  • Kathleen Brennan – associate producer
  • Biff Dawes – recording (1–7, 9–12, 14–16)
  • Joe Marquez– recording (8, 13)
  • Tchad Blake – mixing (1–15)
  • Biff Dawes – mixing (1–15)
  • Joe Marquez – mixing (1–15), second engineer
  • Joe Blaney – mixing (16)
  • Shawn Michael Morris – third engineer
  • Bob Ludwig – mastering
  • Frances Thumm – "musical security guard"

Chart informationEdit

Chart Peak position
Switzerland 21
The Billboard 200 (1992) 176

In popular cultureEdit

  • "Earth Died Screaming" is featured in the 1995 film 12 Monkeys.
  • "Dirt in the Ground" has been covered by Danish band Kellermensch.

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ "Bone Machine album credits". www.lib.ru. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
  2. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Retrieved 2012-03-25.
  3. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Nineties". Retrieved 2012-03-25.
  4. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  5. ^ McDermid, Charles. "Dream Maker:Prairie Sun Recording Studio chief Mark "Mooka" Rennick is a musician's best friend". MetroActive Music. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
  6. ^ Interview with Brian Bannon for Thrasher magazine, February 1993; collected in Innocent When You Dream p.146
  7. ^ Peter Orr. "Tom Waits at work in the fields of the song" Reflex, issue 28, October 6, 1992; as quoted on Percussion Instruments on TomWaitsFan.com, accessed 13 November 2020
  8. ^ Huey, Steve. "Bone Machine – Tom Waits". AllMusic. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  9. ^ Kot, Greg (September 17, 1992). "Tom Waits: Bone Machine (Island)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  10. ^ Altman, Billy (September 25, 1992). "Bone Machine". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  11. ^ Willman, Chris (September 20, 1992). "Tom Waits: 'Bone Machine' (Island)". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ "Tom Waits: Bone Machine". Mojo (200): 77. July 2010.
  13. ^ "Tom Waits: Bone Machine". Q (73): 100. October 1992.
  14. ^ O'Connor, Rob (October 29, 1992). "Bone Machine". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  15. ^ Coleman, Mark; Scoppa, Bud; Weingarten, Christopher R. (April 11, 2010). "Tom Waits: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 17, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  16. ^ Collis, Andrew (October 1992). "Tom Waits: Bone Machine". Select (28): 84.
  17. ^ "What Is He Building In There..?". Uncut (175): 52–53. December 2011.
  18. ^ "QOTSA Cover Tom Waits, Elliott Smith on "Sick" Single". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2007-11-25.

ReferencesEdit

  • Montandon, Mac (2005). Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits the Collected Interviews. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 0-7528-7394-6.