Recorded in Los Angeles, California between July & December 1971. While it's a fascinating, ultimately satisfying listen, THE EARLY YEARS provides reassuring proof that Waits didn't start out as a genius. These 1971 demos of a 21-year-old Waits show a huge talent still in an embryonic state. All the elements of his artistry were solidly in place; the blues, jazz and beat poetry influences, the Hoagy Carmichael/Irving Berlin compositional sensibility, but they were only just beginning to gel. A couple of these tunes would turn up in revamped versions on Waits' 1973 debut, but most are transitional pieces that never would have seen the light of day, had Bizarre/Straight not delved into its archives. Waits neophytes should probably start with the official releases, but hardcore fans will be fascinating by this opportunity to see a world-class artist in a developmental stage.