Bad as Me - Tom Waits
Metascore
88

Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Oct 25, 2011
    100
    Bad as Me, his first album of new material in seven years, is a tour de force of wise ol' swagger and new-century blues.
  2. 100
    An album which contains no filler at all, each track blooming in its own way like a collection of strange desert succulents, with a whole lot of hollerin' and a touch of Lieber-Stollerin'.
  3. Oct 20, 2011
    100
    The wild, rattling bawlers are each distinctively turbocharged with reckless and richly textured energy, while the ballads run poignantly on their rims, leaking emotion.
  4. Oct 19, 2011
    100
    A work of pure, true genius.
  5. The three strongest tracks on Waits's most rocking album ever all feature not just Keith Richards but Tom's drummer son Casey.
  6. Oct 25, 2011
    91
    Bad As Me is entry-level Waits for newcomers, and for longtime fans it's a fun reminder of Waits' ability to be a badass when necessary.
  7. 91
    Without abandoning his classic formula--junkyard percussion, loose-limbed blues licks, and that unmistakable mouth-of-hell baritone--Waits keeps pulling switcheroos out of his porkpie hat on his 20th album.
  8. Dec 6, 2011
    90
    At this moment, Bad As Me might be his best ever. [Nov 2011, p.68]
  9. Nov 3, 2011
    90
    It's an album from a songwriter at the peak of his powers, having tempered his imaginatively destructive impulses with his affection for all things old, rough, and beautiful.
  10. Oct 31, 2011
    90
    Co-written and produced by his missus Kathleen Brennan, Waits' songs--Bad as Me included--find their center immediately and stick like a record's skip.
  11. Oct 25, 2011
    90
    Bad As Me sees the performer reaching back into his bag of tricks to pull out a few favourites in a characteristically exhilarating, terrifying, heartbreaking, tear jerking, bone-rattling style.
  12. Oct 25, 2011
    90
    The fact that he can produce an album like Bad As Me, with more energy, invention and sheer excitement that artists half his age stands as testimony that Tom Waits remains one of the true giants of music.
  13. Oct 25, 2011
    90
    It's Waits' best album since Rain Dogs, and may possibly be even better than that--only time will tell, but it will be time well spent.
  14. Bad As Me is as good as it gets.
  15. 90
    Going back to the well is generally frowned upon, but given the depth of Waits' well and the crispness and vitality drawn from it on Bad As Me, it hardly seems to warrant criticism that he has chosen to rummage through his past and revisit what he never had the heart, or mind, to throw away.
  16. 90
    Even as he enters his 60s, Waits still sounds as lively and as cagey as ever, indulging both his most brazen and his most sentimental urges to upend all of our expectations.
  17. Jan 3, 2012
    89
    Though Waits holds a reserved seat in the small club of artists who don't put out bad albums, the whiff of wild youth hangs around Bad as Me as if it was recorded in back alleys, behind churches, and in bars after hours.
  18. Bad As Me is yet another sensational landmark on the long, well-traveled path of a man who simply refuses to age.
  19. Nov 16, 2011
    85
    Throughout it all, it still feels like essential, singular Waits, like moody and manic are two sides of one very marked coin.
  20. Oct 24, 2011
    83
    The whole thing is a bit ramshackle, but when he listens to his wife, Bad as Me is as good as anything Waits has ever done.
  21. Oct 24, 2011
    81
    For all his indulgences, Waits never lingers too long; these tracks are concise and expertly edited, and Bad as Me feels as new as it does ancient.
  22. Dec 22, 2011
    80
    Bad As me is alive with some of his greatest yet. [Nov 2011, p.90]
  23. Nov 14, 2011
    80
    At its fiery core, Bad as Me is Waits' most accessible record in decades; essential not only to his hooked fanbase, but to the uninitiated masses.
  24. Nov 11, 2011
    80
    Armed with the most awesomely peculiar voice in American music, Waits understands the necessity of reinvention to keep the wheels turning after decades and decades of recording. The approach pays dividends on Bad As Me.
  25. Nov 8, 2011
    80
    Bad As Me is as accessible as it is intelligent. At their heart, these are classic pop songs. That they're coated with his trademark wonder and weirdness makes them more special still. [Nov. 2011, p. 130]
  26. Oct 26, 2011
    80
    Waits has given us another brilliant album in Bad as Me, his best in a long while (maybe since 1992's Bone Machine), but he also lays down a gauntlet.
  27. Oct 25, 2011
    80
    His first album of new material since 2004's "Real Gone," it's also one of Waits's most balanced works in recent memory.
  28. Oct 25, 2011
    80
    Bad as Me is an aural portrait of all the places he's traveled as a recording artist, which is, in and of itself, illuminating and thoroughly enjoyable.
  29. Oct 25, 2011
    80
    It might also be his most broadly emotional set ever; certainly it's his most sharply focused record since the game-changing tag team Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs decades ago.
  30. Oct 24, 2011
    80
    A raucous self-celebration, full of scrappy beat poetry leavened with dark-edged Americana influences, Nelson Algren-style urban malaise, and off-kilter, strangely instrumentalized songs.
  31. Oct 24, 2011
    80
    Bad As Me's 13 tracks fairly rip along, alerting a new generation that there are few as fine as Waits.
  32. Oct 21, 2011
    80
    By shedding much of his fantastical baggage but none of his charm, he has created a nimble, playful little album that ranks among his very best.
  33. Oct 20, 2011
    80
    As ever, he's doing things his own way, with songs catchy enough to suggest everyone should accompany him for the ride.
  34. Oct 18, 2011
    80
    Bad As Me is the sound of a supremely confident artist convening a raucous celebration of his own myth, and is multifariously marvellous. [Nov 2011, p.78]
  35. Oct 13, 2011
    80
    For both diehards and neophytes alike, Bad As Me works as Waits' "greatest methods" collection. [Nov 2011, p.98]
  36. Oct 10, 2011
    80
    It's rare to call anyone's 17th album urgent, but it feels like rocking fast and getting to the point never even 
occurred to Tom Waits before now.
  37. Nov 15, 2011
    76
    The record has more than its share of enjoyable moments, and more than its share of predictable "genius," but a seemingly new dread, a latent, sometimes crippling anxiety, lends the album a certain emotional edge, a hint of vulnerability, that is normally absent in the work of this Baddest of singer-songwriters.
  38. Oct 19, 2011
    70
    While this isn't a great album it's still a very good one, and even lesser Waits is worth a lot in any other currency.
  39. 60
    Bad As Me has to rank as a disappointment, since there are no surprises to match Real Gone's sepulchral funk or Orphans'... breathtaking sweep.
  40. Oct 20, 2011
    60
    There's plenty to enjoy here, but very little to get worked up about.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 66 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 2 out of 15
  1. Oct 25, 2011
    10
    The 61 year old Waits releases his 17th studio album and it is perfect. Since 1973 the singer songwriter has reinvented himself numerousThe 61 year old Waits releases his 17th studio album and it is perfect. Since 1973 the singer songwriter has reinvented himself numerous times, and continues to create the Tom Waits persona. The three additional songs are essential and fit into the rest of the album quite nicely. Full Review »
  2. Nov 5, 2011
    10
    A great album, and an accessible Tom Waits album for fans and newcomers. Not quite as noisy and eccentric as his last album, but still prettyA great album, and an accessible Tom Waits album for fans and newcomers. Not quite as noisy and eccentric as his last album, but still pretty cool nonetheless. I'd rank this as one of his most listenable without losing his edge. Great stuff. Full Review »
  3. Oct 30, 2011
    10
    Tom is Tom. On first listen of this album i thought it would be a lesser Tom, so many styles. Mule variations is prolly my least favourite ofTom is Tom. On first listen of this album i thought it would be a lesser Tom, so many styles. Mule variations is prolly my least favourite of his. This, though, is great... its like Orphans condensed to one disc sized collection. We've got rockabilly Tom, piano drunken Tom, whispered ballad Tom, wild cacophonous Tom...all in one pocket sized bag of magical **** Tom...is the man!!! Full Review »