Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

  • Record Label: Anti
  • Release Date: Nov 21, 2006
Metascore
92

Universal acclaim - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 32
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 32
  3. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Orphans is a major work that goes beyond the origins of the material and drags everything past and present with sound and texture into a present to be presented as something utterly new, beyond anything he has previously issued.
  2. Compiled from various stages of his career, with varying fidelity but weirdly without varying quality, Orphans is the singularly odd cutting-room comp that serves as an equally decent introduction to a career.
  3. The end product, neatly compartmentalized into three style-segregated discs, is about as perfect a summary of Waits' appeal as can be found on the open market, a shadow greatest hits that offers testimony to his unique and diverse talents without recycling any of his album material.
  4. Uncut
    100
    It's remarkable... how much of a piece the entire set is, reflecting how skilfully Waits has welded the various tributary styles of his art into a seamless whole. [Dec 2006, p.122]
  5. Q Magazine
    70
    A long, sometimes hard, often inspired haul, this could easily have been pared down to a uniformly excellent double disc. [Dec 2006, p.138]
  6. Mojo
    100
    Astounding... More even than his Exile On Main St., this is Tom Waits' Basement Tapes. [Dec 2006, p.104]
  7. New Musical Express (NME)
    80
    Genius. [18 Nov 2006, p.33]
  8. Waits may call them orphans, but another artist would call this a career.
  9. [The three albums] together make up one very powerful entity.
  10. Spin
    80
    Though the set's marathon length may keep casual listeners at a distance, fans of the eccentric characters, styles, and emotional arcs that compose Waits' oeuvre know there's no such thing as a "casual" Tom Waits listener anyway. [Dec 2006, p.103]
  11. Familiar, compelling, and tugging out empathy.
  12. It would be a mistake to dismiss this box set as a bunch of leftovers of interest only to Waits fanatics. There is some filler, it’s true, but there are also more than a dozen songs that rank with his best work.
  13. Each orphan stands proudly on its own as the vestige of an old idea or a forgotten path—proving that even Waits's missteps still manage to point in the right direction.
  14. Orphans is something akin to taking a journey through a familiar yet entirely foreign dream-place.
  15. Magnet
    90
    Orphans plays less like a career capstone than Waits' one-man Library of Congress field-recording project. [#74, p.93]
  16. 70
    The jumble of stuff that spills out -- from Delta blues to nineteenth-century ballads to spoken-word rambles -- is surprisingly consistent, at times transcendent, and not just for people intimately acquainted with Waits’s honeyed craziness.
  17. The collection is one of the best releases of 2006 because Tom Waits is one of America’s greatest living songwriters.
  18. After 30 years, Waits keeps getting weirder and weirder while still aging gracefully.
  19. Billboard
    80
    Vast in scope, rich in trope and full of hope. [25 Nov 2006]
  20. "Orphans" is that rarity of an album: one that will satisfy hardcore fans as well as the uninitiated.
  21. Orphans may not have something for everyone, but what’s missing says more about the listener than the record.
  22. It's almost too much, really, but Waits doesn't release albums very often, so you can make it last.
  23. This is not Tom Waits’ best record... But the whole package... is riveting, a collection that should humble lesser musicians who only can aspire to the mantle of Waits’ discarded work.
  24. A colourful, incomparable colossus, a work of breathtaking, staggering genius and no mistake.
  25. This is nightmare music--a blue-collar purgatory made of American mythology and populated by its grotesques.
  26. An outstanding musical creation... that nods to almost every known genre of American music, and some that have yet to be named.
  27. Waits is fearless in generating atmosphere and relentless in avoiding polish.
  28. Orphans is a bravura showcase for the instrument of Tom Waits’ voice.
  29. This set stands alongside Waits's finest work.
  30. Sure enough, the first time through, too many [of the songs] had faded on me. Soon, however, even ones I'd given up on were bum-rushing my earhole.
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 159 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 84 out of 92
  2. Negative: 7 out of 92
  1. Jon-E.K
    Dec 13, 2007
    8
    Its definately one of Waits better albums, wonderful lyrics shouted, sung and brawled out with a rough raspy and varied vocal, that most Its definately one of Waits better albums, wonderful lyrics shouted, sung and brawled out with a rough raspy and varied vocal, that most people with a wide music vocabulary will be charmed by. Everything from the Stories about gritty outlaws, loners and bottom life dwellers to the experimental rhythmic composition is artfully execute in his own bizarre style. I found the bastards disk to be my favorite, because it was more experimental, it had a darker tone to it, much like Black Rider had. To them who can't get over his voice or claim that he can't sing, for one he's much better than most singers out there, he uses his voice like an instrument, its the pillar which upholds the whole composition. In fact he says this better himself.. "At the center of this record is my voice. I try my best to chug, stomp, weep, whisper, moan, wheeze, scat, blurt, rage, whine, and seduce. With my voice, I can sound like a girl, the boogieman, a Theremin, a cherry bomb, a clown, a doctor, a murderer - I can be tribal. Ironic. Or disturbed. My voice is really my instrument." Tom wait's quoted from Anti- article. Full Review »
  2. SB
    Nov 30, 2006
    10
    As far as I'm concerned this is Tom's masterpiece. An absolutely astonishing work. The scope is massive and to say that he pulls it As far as I'm concerned this is Tom's masterpiece. An absolutely astonishing work. The scope is massive and to say that he pulls it off is an understatement. I just don't get how people can rate this as 8/10 or whatever. This is the greatest album by anyone in decades. Full Review »
  3. DrAwesome
    Nov 30, 2006
    9
    A landmark work. Runs the gamut of emotions and conveys all of them well. Tom Waits is truly a musical genius to be reckoned with and should A landmark work. Runs the gamut of emotions and conveys all of them well. Tom Waits is truly a musical genius to be reckoned with and should take is his place beside Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan in the triumvirate of the worlds greatest song writers. Full Review »