Tom Waits has announced Alice and Blood Money reissues in honor of the iconic albums’ 20th anniversary. Originally released by ANTI- on May 7, 2002, the limited-edition vinyl reissues will be available on Oct. 7 and are now available for preorder. Waits’ official merch store will offer a translucent blue vinyl for Alice and a translucent red press of Blood Money. Alternative color variants will be available at record stores and online.
In anticipation of the official release date, Waits is sharing several previously unreleased live versions of songs from the records. The first release from Blood Money, “All the Word is Green,” was recorded at a live show in Milan, Italy. Waits also dropped a live version of “Fish and Bird,” lifted from his return to the London stage in 2004, which is featured on Alice.
Both albums were recorded during the same period and feature many of the same musicians, but with different engineers for mixing, mastering and recording. Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan envisioned the songs as lyrical concept albums with their own song cycles and sonic worlds.
Alice was initially created for an avant-garde opera directed by Robert Wilson for Hamburg’s Thalia Theater in the winter of 1992. It also marks the couple’s second time collaborating with Wilson, and is loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s obsession with Alice Liddell, the neighborhood girl who served as the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. Weaving together instruments such as bass saxophones, vibraphone, pump organ, French horns, and a string trio of bass, violin and cello, it has the same sense of enchantment as its namesake.
“During the ‘70’s, too many of my songs were drowning in strings. I didn’t want to hear another blasted violin,” Waits recalled of Alice in a statement. “So, we found string players who felt the same way about their instrument, formed an odd, skeletal chamber orchestra and tried to avoid all the old familiar phrases where strings love to play.”
Once again drawing inspiration from literature, Blood Money is based on the socio-political play Woyzeck, written by the German poet Georg Buchner in 1837. The play recounts the true story of a German soldier driven to murder his lover after being the victim of medical experiments conducted by the army. The songs, penned for a theatrical production of Woyzeck, mark their third collaboration with Wilson and the groundwork for what would become Blood Money.
“Blood Money is flesh and bone, earthbound,” said Waits. “The songs are rooted in reality: jealousy, rage, the human meat wheel … They are more carnal. Kathleen and I are well suited to this material. She is hilarious, blasphemous and ominous. I like a beautiful song that tells you terrible things.”
Listen to “All the World is Green” and “Fish and Bird” below, and find a 1977 Waits performance from the Paste archives further down, along with the artwork of Alice and Blood Money.
Blood Money Art: