This Friday Tom Waits will release 20th-anniversary limited edition vinyl re-issues of his 2002 albums ‘Alice’ and ‘Blood Money’. New live renditions of five tracks per record will also be made available digitally in a digital deluxe version. Pre-order the vinyl and pre-save the digital deluxe versions below.

‘ALICE’ VINYL PRE-ORDER + DIGITAL PRE-SAVE HERE

‘BLOOD MONEY’ VINYL PRE-ORDER + DIGITAL PRE-SAVE HERE

Today the ‘Alice’ track ‘Lost In The Harbour’ (live) is being shared ahead of Friday’s release. This rare live recording captures a chilling intimacy and features a lyric video created by Christy Smith in which the viewer is transported into a haunting, somber seascape with spells of radiant light. Says Waits: ‘Lost In The Harbour’ “illustrates that [enemies] are neighbours with shared fates and entwined roots. The harbour is like the sky, it holds all.”

WATCH ‘LOST IN THE HARBOUR’ (LIVE) LYRIC VIDEO HERE

“The albums are as different as sleepwalking and chronic insomnia,” said Jon Pareles of The New York Times upon their release. “‘Alice,’ which is very loosely inspired by ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ is full of lyrics about dreaming and many of the songs proceed in a haze of brushed drums and breathy horns. ‘Blood Money’ is more hardnosed, veering from warped carnival oompah to ominous lullabies.”

Initially created for an avant-garde opera directed by Robert Wilson for Hamburg’s Thalia Theater in the winter of 1992, ‘Alice’ was Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan’s second collaboration with Wilson (they had previously worked together on 1989’s ‘The Black Rider’). ‘Alice’ was based loosely on Lewis Carroll’s obsession with young Alice Liddell, the neighbour girl who was his inspiration for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. Lyrically and musically, the songs are part of a cycle where each track relates to what comes before and what will follow, a puzzle that reveals itself as it unfurls and marks a compositionally bold step forward for Waits. 

Blood Money’ lives in an entirely different world, careening from the brutal to the tender with assaulting rhythms and romantic melodies. It’s a grim musical deposition on the human condition, a dark mortality play where Tin Pan Alley meets the Weimar Republic.

‘Blood Money’ is based on the socio/political play ‘Woyzeck,’ originally written by a young German poet Georg Buchner as a spare, cinematic piece in 1837 and inspired by the true story of a German soldier who was driven mad by bizarre army medical experiments and infidelity, which led him to murder his lover. Waits and Brennan wrote songs for a vibrantly coloured and scalding, tragically romantic production of ‘Woyzeck’ for their third collaboration with Robert Wilson, which later became ‘Blood Money’. ‘Woyzeck’ premiered in November 2000 at the Betty Nansen Theater in Copenhagen and travelled throughout Europe and Asia and went on to win Denmark’s version of the Tony for Best Musical that year.  

In late August, Waits premiered a live version of ‘God’s Away On Business’ from ‘Blood Money,’ with a lyric video from Casey Waits that featured expressionistic, stark wood-cut styled imagery. This version from Edinburgh, Scotland in 2008 will be featured on the digital deluxe version of ‘Blood Money.’

WATCH ‘GOD’S AWAY ON BUSINESS’ (LIVE) LYRIC VIDEO HERE

Both albums were recorded during the same period with many of the same musicians, but with different engineers for recording, mixing and mastering.  Waits and Brennan envisioned these songs as lyrical concept albums that were inspired by the stories behind the future staged productions. The songs from Alice and Blood Money were conceived as song cycles, each in their own sonic worlds, and written to be sung and performed by Waits.  These years certainly marked a creatively fertile period for them as ‘Alice’ and ‘Blood Money’ came right after the massive success of 1999’s GRAMMY-winning ‘Mule Variations’ LP and tour. The resulting LPs were acclaimed upon their release but also overshadowed by their high-profile predecessor. Over the last two decades, more fans and critics have come to embrace these works as some of Waits’ finest.