Remastered and reisssued on Anti. This is where the 'beatnik-jazz Waits' starts turning into Wierd Waits, 1978's Blue Valentine is more stripped down than before (still a couple of orchestrated cuts including the wonderfully gruff rendition of West Side Story's Somewhere), with Waits laying down cool but warped grooves on organ / piano to spill his increasingly ambitious narratives over. Two welcome changes in style made Blue Valentine a fresh listening experience for Tom Waits fans. First, Waits alters the instrumentation, bringing in electric guitar and keyboards and largely dispensing with the strings for a more blues-oriented, hard-edged sound. Second, though his world view remains fixed on the lowlifes of the late night, he expands beyond the musings of the barstool philosopher who previously had acted as the first-person character of most of his songs. When Waits does use the first-person, it's to write a Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis, not the figure most listeners had associated with the singer himself. The result is a broadening of subject matter, a narrative discipline that makes most of the tunes story songs, and a coherent framing for Waits' typically colorful and intriguing imagery. These are not radical reinventions, but Waits had followed such a rigidly stylized approach on his previous albums that for anyone who had followed him so far, the course correction was big news.
CD - Digipack.
LP - 180 Gram Vinyl with Download.