|Tom Waits – Rain Dogs: 4 stars, a weighty 4 nearly a 4.5
Precon: One of my favorite Waits albums. Possibly in 2nd place after Small Change. Before I got into Waits, I thought he was a really weird mofo who made strange, abrasive music that automatically made you cool if you listened to it, or maybe you had to already be cool to listen to it. Maybe you could listen to it by invitation only. I don’t remember exactly what I thought. It was something along those lines.
Favorite Track: Big Black Mariah. Waits kicking ass. Reminds me of one of my other favorites 16 Shells. I could listen to him go “oooowwwaaaahhhoooowwwoooaaahhh” all day.
I made the mistake of talking to Chris about the album before I listened to it. I figured his Waits hate would have no effect on me. I was not entirely correct. He called the first track “the cookie monster song,” and when I listened to it all I could picture was the Cookie Monster singing. This didn’t totally ruin it, but I certainly experienced the song in a new way.
Downtown Train always seems out of place on this album. No doubt because I heard the Rod Stewart version so many times before hearing the original. Now it seems like Waits is the one covering it. It’s a good song, but it has this easy listening feel that I can’t seem to shake.
I like this album more than ever, especially after reading the wiki page about the recording of it and the idea behind it. It’s more interesting now that I know what it’s about. I wouldn’t call it a concept album as much as a theme album, and the theme is a common one with Waits, just downtrodden people and the grand tragedy of life.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from Chris Ryan’s seminal volume of Waits criticism entitled, Tom Waits: This Guy’s Actually Serious:
Now, we can all agree that the first half of the album is better, but Mr. Ryan’s colorful fleet of fancy about an artist battling his own album as it plays out shows the power Waits’ music has to ignite the imagination. It’s quite breathtaking.