After all the years of singing like a drunk and ravaged Sinatra, Waits delivered this creaking, clanking bag of bones to Warners Brothers and as they sat in the room and listened to it he apparently ‘watched the blood drain from their faces’. Warners refused to put it out and Waits moved the album to Island Records, where he remained for many years. You can see why Warners were taken aback – it’s such a departure from his earlier work, laced with found sounds, clanking and groaning broken instruments and fractured images. It’s heavily influenced by the world of avant garde theatre and Bertolt Brecht in particular. I adore it – it sounds like something grand and stylish caught in the act of falling down the stairs. 'Shore Leave' is particularly atmospheric and there are some gorgeous old-style Tom songs on here, too, like 'Soldier’s Things'. Indispensible.