Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tom Waits: Heartattack and Vine [Asylum, 1980]
Lurching from hip to bathetic in his doomed pursuit of the let's-get-wasted market, he needs an editor more than Jack Kerouac ever did. But Kerouac rarely came up with tropes as axiomatic as "I sold a quart of blood and bought a half a pint of Scotch" or "If you don't get my letter, then you'll know that I'm in jail," neither of which ought to spend their lives buried in overgrown verbiage and stentorian second-line. And sometimes he gets away with his shit, as in the tearfully tuneful "Jersey Girl" or the blisteringly bluesy "Mr. Siegal"--or "Heartattack and Vine," which could make you hope he's getting tired of getting wasted. B