Tom Waits’ Drinking Years, Relapsed

Tom Waits’ first seven albums, from his 1970s stint on Elektra/Asylum Records, are being re-released this year by his current label, Anti- Records.

This is a significant chunk of Waits’ catalog, the formative years where he established his initial barfly poet/troubadour persona against a musical mix of down-and-out blues, cocktail lounge jazz and rhythm & blues. He’d shed that image in the ‘80s across a string of adventurous, acclaimed albums for Island, but these are the records that include a wealth of Waits’ early classics: “Step Right Up,” “(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night,” “Burma-Shave,” “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis,” “Jersey Girl,” “Old ’55,” “The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me),” “Romeo is Bleeding,” and so on.

Closing Time, Waits’ debut album from 1973, will also be the first of the reissues, with the vinyl version hitting stores on March 9th. The rest – Heart of Saturday Night (1974), Nighthawks At the Diner (1975), Small Change (1976), Foreign Affairs (1977), Blue Valentine (1978) and Heartattack & Vine (1980) – will follow throughout the year. CD versions of all of them will be available March 23rd, and digitally March 9th.

These appear to all be straight reissues, with no bonus cuts or previously-unreleased add-ons – meaning, don’t expect rarities like 1974’s “Blue Skies” single or those Bounced Checks curiosities.