Bone Machine, 1992

Bone Machine
This is Waits's most harrowing album ever, thanks not only to such heartwarming sentiments as "What does it matter, a dream of love or a dream of lies / We're all going to be in the same place when we die" but also to the ravaged, shamanistic croak with which he delivers them. Death hangs like a bad suit on songs like "Jesus Gonna Be Here," "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me," and "Murder in the Red Barn." But the album is musically entrancing and richly poetic--"Are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes?" Waits asks a perennially unfaithful lover in "Who Are You." There's also room for some foolishness, as with "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," which has been memorably covered by the Ramones, and a boozy sing-along (with Keith Richards), "That Feel." --Daniel Durchholz