Music

The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time 

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Updated October 13, 2018 1.3k votes 279 voters 4.4k views 21 items

List Rules This list includes studio albums only, so if you add an album make sure it's a proper studio release.

Tom Waits is one of the best singer/songwriters of all time, hands down. This list of the best Tom Waits albums includes pictures of the album covers when available. The Tom Waits discography is ranked from best to worst, so the top Tom Waits albums can be found at the top of the list. Waits emerged from the singer/songwriter era of the early '70s with his debut album, Closing Time (1973), full of melodic material with a piano bar vibe. Later work saw him move into more experimental, industrial territory, such as on Swordfishtrombones (1983).

To make voting for your favorite records easier, we haven't included Tom Waits singles, EPs, or compilations, so everything you see here should only be studio albums. If you think the greatest Tom Waits album isn't ranked highly enough, vote for it so it receives proper credit. Make sure you don't just vote for critically acclaimed albums; if you have a favorite Tom Waits album, vote it up, even if it's not necessarily the most popular.

If you want to know what is the best Tom Waits album of all time, this list will answer your question. Albums range from Foreign Affairs (1977) to Rain Dogs (1985) to Night on Earth (1992). These popular Tom Waits CDs have been voted on by music fans around the world, so the order isn't just one person's opinion. 

list ordered by
1
Rain Dogs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1985); Tracks: Big Black Mariah, Anywhere I Lay My Head & Diamonds & Gold

Genres (Music): Rock music, Blues-rock, Folk music, Blues, Experimental music, + more

2
Mule Variations is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1999); Tracks: Get Behind the Mule, What's He Building? & Buzz Fledderjohn

Producer: Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan

Length (mins): 01:15:35

Genres (Music): Rock music, Blues-rock, Folk rock, Rock and roll, Experimental music, + more

3
Swordfishtrombones is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1983); Tracks: Dave the Butcher, Down & Down

Genres (Music): Alternative rock, Rock music, Experimental music, Experimental rock

4
Bone Machine is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1992); Tracks: A Little Rain, I Don’t Wanna Grow Up & Murder in the Red Barn

Genres (Music): Rock music, Blues-rock, Experimental music, Experimental rock

5
The Heart of Saturday Ni... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1974); Tracks: Please Call Me, Baby & Fumblin' With the Blues

Producer: Bones Howe

Length (mins): 00:41:36

Genres (Music): Rock music, Jazz, Folk music, Blues

6
Small Change is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1976); Tracks: I Wish I Was in New Orleans (In the Ninth Ward), The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) (An Evening with Pete King) & Invitation to the Blues

Producer: Bones Howe

Length (mins): 00:50:02

Genres (Music): Rock music, Jazz, Blues

7
Franks Wild Years is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1987); Tracks: I'll Take New York, Train Song & More Than Rain

Genres (Music): Alternative rock, Rock music, Jazz, Experimental music, Experimental rock

8
Closing Time is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1973); Tracks: I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You, Midnight Lullaby & Ice Cream Man

Producer: Jerry Yester

Length (mins): 00:45:54

Genres (Music): Rock music, Jazz, Folk music, Blues

9
Real Gone is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (2004); Tracks: Make It Rain, Clang Boom Steam & Day After Tomorrow

Producer: Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan

Length (mins): 01:12:09

Genres (Music): Alternative rock, Rock music, Indie rock, Experimental rock, Dark cabaret

10
Heartattack and Vine is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1980); Tracks: On the Nickel, Ruby’s Arms & Jersey Girl

Producer: Bones Howe

Length (mins): 00:44:32

Genres (Music): Rock music, Jazz, Rock and roll, Blues

11
Orphans: Brawlers, Bawle... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (2006); Tracks: Widow’s Grove, Down There by the Train & Young at Heart

Genres (Music): Alternative rock, Rock music, Folk rock, Jazz, Rock and roll, + more

12
Blue Valentine is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1978); Tracks: Kentucky Avenue, A Sweet Little Bullet From a Pretty Blue Gun & Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard

Producer: Bones Howe

Length (mins): 00:49:39

Genres (Music): Rock music, Blues-rock, Jazz, Blues

13
Alice is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
14
Blood Money is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (2002); Tracks: Misery Is the River of the World, Coney Island Baby & Knife Chase

Genres (Music): Alternative rock, Rock music, Cabaret, Jazz blues

15
Bad as Me is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (2011); Tracks: Hell Broke Luce, She Stole the Blush & Face to the Highway

Genres (Music): Rock music, Blues, Experimental music

16
The Black Rider is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
17
Foreign Affairs is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
By Tom Waits (1977); Tracks: Barber Shop, Medley: Jack & Neal / California & Here I Come

Producer: Bones Howe

Length (mins): 00:42:09

Genres (Music): Rock music, Jazz

18
One From the Heart is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
19
Jesus' Blood Never Faile... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
20
Night on Earth is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time
21
The Classic Interviews ... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Tom Waits Albums of All Time