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Closing Time is the debut album of Tom Waits, released in 1973 on Asylum Records, produced and arranged by former Lovin' Spoonful member Jerry Yester.

Recording

The album's producer Jerry Yester described the recording process for Closing Time thusly:
Tom's real easy to work with, we had a real good relationship.
I really wasn't interested in telling him what to do.
I just wanted to get the music out of him.
That was the important thing.
So, we talked about how he wanted to do it and I would make suggestions.
There was a very good relationship between all of the band members.
That album was absolutely the easiest one I've ever done in my life.
It was done in, like, a week and a half ... in the studio at Sunset Sound.
One reason it was good, I think, was we couldn't get the nighttime hours that I was looking for.
We had to come in from ten to five every day.
It took two days to get used to it, but once we did it was great.
We were even awake when we got there, and it was like a job.
Everybody was real alert and into it.
We took our lunch breaks, came back and worked again.
And we had the evening to do something with.
It was like being human, you know?


Tour

The first tour upon which Waits embarked in support of his debut album, his first ever national tour, ran from April to June 1973. The band line-up for this tour consisted of: Tom Waits (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano), Bob Webb (standup bass), Rich Phelps (trumpet), and John Forsha (guitar). The opening date of this tour was at The Cellar Door in Washington, D.C.marker opening for Tom Rush. The tour would go on to take in dates in venues such as Max's Kansas Citymarker in New Yorkmarker and The Boarding House in San Franciscomarker, opening for acts such as Danny O'Keefe, Charlie Rich, Buffalo Bob Smith (of Howdy Doody fame) and John P. Hammond. A second promotional tour ran from November to December 1973, opening for Frank Zappa. This tour consisted of only the stripped-down line-up of Waits on vocals, acoustic guitar, and piano, with Bob Webb on standup bass.

Track listing

All tracks written by Tom Waits.

Side One

Side Two

Personnel

  • Tom Waits: vocals, piano, celeste, guitar
  • Delbert Bennett, Tony Terran: trumpet
  • Shep Cooke: guitar, vocals
  • Peter Klimes: guitar
  • Jesse Ehrlich: cello
  • Bill Plummer, Arni Egilsson: bass
  • John Seiter: drums, background vocals


Cover versions

While Waits' debut album received good reviews, it was not a commercial success. It did, however, reach a wider audience through a number of cover versions by more successful artists of a few of its tracks. Later in 1973 Tim Buckley released the album Sefronia, which contained a cover of "Martha," the first ever cover of a Tom Waits song by a known artist. This cover was included in the 1995 compilation Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits. A cover of "Ol' '55" was a hit for The Eagles, who recorded it for their 1974 album On the Border. The song "Ice Cream Man" was covered in 1991 by Screamin' Jay Hawkins for his album Black Music For White People. "Martha" was covered again by Meat Loaf on his 1995 album Welcome to the Neighborhood.

Notes




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