30 September 2013

30th September - Tom Waits' Rain Dogs

Artist – Album: Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
Released:  30th September 1985
Sounds Like: Off-centre dreams from New York City

Tom Waits is like olives - nobody likes him when they’re a kid, but pretty much everyone who’s reached a certain age is a fan. Or maybe he’s a bit more like a strong beer – you might have to force it down the first few dozen tries, but, man, is it worth it once you’ve learned to love him. Me, I first knowingly saw him in 1999’s pleasingly naff comedy Mystery Men, and the eccentric inventor that he played, a recluse that lives in a fun fair and creates non-violent gadget weapons, equipped me with a suitably weird image of the singer when I went on to sample his peculiar brand of rock-and-roll-meets-Ripley’s-Believe-It-or-Not.

Rain Dogs, along with its predecessor Swordfishtrombones, is the most decorated album of Waits’ hailed career, although even here it’s not hard to see why it’s an acquired taste. By this point he’d moved on from the lounge singer act of his earlier records to a wholly unique new sound, with the albums of his "Island trilogy" – of which this is the second – being made up of eclectic sketches of dark city life. The more recognisable genres include adult-orientated rock on ‘Downtown Train’ (ruined by Rod Stewart five years later), country on ‘Blind Love’ and tender balladry on ‘Time’, but most occupy a realm where conventional genres and instrumentation are thrown out of the window. ‘Jockey Full of Bourbon’ (chosen as the theme music to the brilliant British comedy Black Books a couple of decades down the line), ‘Big Black Mariah’ and ‘Cemetery Polka’ are three of the best oddities.

I like coffee (sometimes), champagne (sort of), caviar (yes, I’ve had caviar!) and strong cheeses, but, blergh, I balk at Marmite. I love Tom Waits. 

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Singapore – 2:46
2.       Clap Hands – 3:47
3.       Cemetery Polka – 1:51
4.       Jockey Full of Bourbon – 2:45
5.       Tango Till They’re Sore – 2:49
6.       Big Black Mariah – 2:44
7.       Diamonds & Gold – 2:31
8.       Hang Down Your Head – 2:32
9.       Time – 3:55
10.   Rain Dogs – 2:56
11.   Midtown – 1:00
12.   9th & Hennepin – 1:58
13.   Gun Street Girl – 4:37
14.   Union Square – 2:24
15.   Blind Love – 4:18
16.   Walking Spanish – 3:05
17.   Downtown Train – 3:53
18.   Bride of Rain Dog – 1:07
19.   Anywhere I Lay My Head – 2:48

Listen to ‘Cemetery Polka: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iuuv_1TPYo

Also released on 30th September:
1982: Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska
Also released on 30th September:
1997: Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind

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