- Personnel: Tom Waits (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboard, bass, drums, percussion); Larry Taylor (guitar, bass); Keith Richards, Joe Gore, Waddy Wachtel (guitar); David Phillips (pedal steel guitar, steel guitar); Joe Marquez (banjo, percussion); Ralph Carney (bass clarinet, alto & tenor saxophones); David Hidalgo (accordion); Les Claypool (bass); Bryan "Brain" Mantia (drums); Kathleen Brennan (percussion).
- Engineers: Joe Marquez, Shawn Michael Morris, Biff Dawes.
- Recorded at Prairie Sun Recording, Cotati, California.
- Personnel: Tom Waits (vocals, guitar, piano, chamberlin, keyboards, percussion); Keith Richards (vocals, guitar); Richard Wachtel, Joe Gore, Waddy Wachtel (guitar); David Phillips (steel guitar); Joe Marquez (banjo, percussion); David Hidalgo (violin, accordion); Ralph Carney (bass clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Les Claypool (electric bass); Brain (drums); Kathleen Brennan (percussion).
- Audio Mixer: Joe Blaney.
- Recording information: Prairie Sun Studios, Cotati, CA.
- After completing the famed "trilogy" that consists of SWORDFISHTROMBONES, RAIN DOGS, and FRANK'S WILD YEARS, Waits took his time following it up. At the time, it was hard to imagine what crazed, exotic sonic vistas Waits had left unexplored. Further proving the mettle of his artistry, Waits pulled a masterstroke on BONE MACHINE. Instead of trying to reach new heights, he effectively plumbed the depths, stripping his sound down to the bare essentials (hence the title). At times, he sounds like a cross between an even more avant-garde Captain Beefheart ("Such a Scream") and a hip caveman banging out a song on a row of tuned skulls ("Earth Died Screaming"). Despite all this willful primitivism though, his craftsmanship is at a peak, with his thoughtful lyricism shining throughout.
Rolling Stone (10/29/92, p.69) - 3.5 Stars - Good Plus - "...It's a song older than Waits himself--older than Hank Williams, older than Robert Johnson--that Waits is chasing...Albums this rich with spiritual longing prove the validity of that effort..."
Spin (12/92, p.68) - Ranked #13 in Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of The Year' - "...leaves you breathless in amazement that anyone could be this friggin' weird and cool...a shining collection of tunes..."
Spin (11/92, p.115) - Highly Recommended - "...Waits keeps getting weirder--and better--proving that you can live life in sinful disgrace and come out somehow purer in the end..."
Entertainment Weekly (9/17/92, p.65) - "...You never know when you're going to be shocked, thrilled, or just plain unnerved by some startling image or sound...As modern songwriters go, [Waits] is one of the few who does matter..." - Rating: A+
Q (10/92, p.100) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...a formidable talent who is surely the true heir to Captain Beefheart...in an era when even the fringes of cultural enterprise are becoming increasingly dominated by market pandering, his is the bravest of stances..."
Alternative Press (12/92, p.75) - "...the apocalyptic howl which is Waits' strongest calling card positively bowls you over..."
Dirty Linen (Apr/May 93, p.75) - "...a musical sideshow; not one full of bogus wonders, but rather, applicable sounds and images. It doesn't have to be all popsicles and icicles, you know. And Tom Waits remains oh-so valid..."
Option (Nov.-Dec./92, p.151) - "...his best album ever....Waits--poignant, brilliant, and original--is beyond all comparisons..."
Melody Maker (9/12/92, p.45) - "...Waits doesn't prettify, he just simplifies, as the best storytellers must...shows his roots in the spirituals of black American slaves, gospel, Leadbelly's blues and the Depression folk of Woody Guthrie...weird and wonderful..."
Musician (10/92, p.99) - "...one of the most singular-sounding albums to come along in some time...BONE MACHINE should be counted among [Waits's] best efforts--deeply weird, aggressively sardonic and, at its greasy core, painfully humane..."
Village Voice (3/2/93, p.5) - Ranked #9 in the Village Voice's list of the 40 Best Albums Of 1992.
Stereo Review (1/93, p.88) - "...BONE MACHINE is minimalist music from hell, played on the bones of sinners and sung through the rusty, ravaged, and perhaps even channeled voice of the devil, who shovels coal through Waits's dreams..."
Audio Magazine (1/93, p.150) - "...the folk music of the post-apocalypse...his most chilling and darkly humorous album to date..."