October 08, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a B+

Tom Waits goes hip-hop? Not quite. But there are some pretty heavy beats on Real Gone (and turntable scratches) beneath Waits’ signature bluesman-like croaks. These sometimes jaunty rhythms add tension to Waits’ dark tales of circus freaks, murdered beauties, homesick soldiers, and sinners desperate for redemption. The effect is often riveting — and even a little gangsta.

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