Friday, July 21, 2017

Gavin Bryars with Tom Waits - Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1993)

A gorgeous, 75-minute piece of lush, intricately layered modern classical built atop a brief loop of a homeless man softly singing a verse from a Christian song. When the piece was originally recorded in 1971, it had to fit onto a single side of an LP -- a limitation that eventually led Bryars to, with the advent of the compact disc, rewrite it, stretching it out over six parts and 75+ minutes.

Given that some people can't stand Tom Waits, I should mention that his role in this recording is minimal, and unless he played a role in the writing process, it's kinda weird that his name's on the cover.

Track listing:
1. Tramp with Orchestra I (String Quartet)
2. Tramp with Orchestra II (Low Strings)
3. Tramp with Orchestra III (No Stings)
4. Tramp with Orchestra IV (Full String
5. Tramp and Tom Waits with Full Orchestra
6. Coda: Tom Waits with High Strings

This one thing I know

You might also enjoy:
Michael Torke -
Color Music (1991)
Zbigniew Preisner -
Diaries of Hope (2013)


  1. thank you for this! god knows i needed something mellow after this shit day and your blog provide the right soundtracks to chill out/swear like a maniac.
    on a side note, here, - - this is my band.
    Ffo : SLANG,MUSHMOUTH,SLAYER,SDS & CROW. Thrashcore, basically, but a bit more harsher. Enjoy!

  2. Never knew there were lots of Tom Waits haters.

    1. People hate his voice and how shtick-y he is. And train-hoppers worship him, so some people just hate him because of his fanbase. Maybe it's just that I live in Portland, which is a hater mecca.

      (To be clear, I love Tom Waits -- considering how many records he's put out, he has one of the most solid discographies in existence.)

  3. Nice one! Love the original release of this (the one on Eno's Obscure label) and must confess I hadn't heard the Tom Waits version. Still like the relative compactness of the old one, but on this one you can really hear how the lack of time constraints lets Bryars flesh it out in the way he's perhaps always wanted to. Tom Waits really adds a fresh dimension to it too.

    Incidentally, there's a reference to the original tape loop in Cosey Fanni Tutti's recent autobiog, from when she encountered it in the early 70s - apparently Bryars was using it as an installation piece before developing it as an orchestrated work.