Heartattack and Vine, 1980

Heartattack and Vine
The most bluesy and visceral of Waits' mid-period albums, Heartattack and Vine encapsulates the jazzy piano ballads ("Ruby's Arms"), beatnik imagery ("Mr. Siegal") and seedy, blues-inflected tales from America's underbelly that he perfected in his first decade of recording. This is an album of extremes, as Waits is unabashedly (and convincingly) sentimental on "On The Nickel" and "Jersey Girl" (later covered by Bruce Springsteen) and unflinchingly hard-boiled on the title track and the hustler's anthem "'Til the Money Runs Out". The concise, compact arrangements (he has never grooved so fiercely) foreshadowed the rhythmic invention to come in Waits' later work.