Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years
by Tom Waits
Released: Jan 1998
Label: Island Records
Though Waits made six LPs with Island -- from '83's Swordfishtrombones to '93's The Black Rider -- most of this compilation is from early in the relationship. For as great as his early '80s work was, Beautiful Maladies is stuck in an odd impasse: too disjointed for the uninitiated, yet too incomplete for fans of the original LPs. Reminders of Waits' strengths as a songwriter are here in spades, but the fact that those songs sound so orphaned when taken from their original context is a more potent testament to his conceptual strength as an album artist.