In the middle of the 80’s jazz crooner Tom Waits reinvents himself and explores the darker side of things and, musically, creates music that is completely different from anything nobody ever heard before. The delirium started with “Swordfishtrombones” in 1983, and continued on with “Rain Dogs” two years later.

The angry drunk pianist persona is still very present on beautiful but dark songs like Tango Til They’re Soar. But the main difference is that Waits plays (and composes?) on the guitar, an instrument he barely used on previous albums. We can hear the steal strings on Claphands and the electric bluesy groove on Big Black Mariah. This changes completely the music of the 36 year-old musician from Pomona, California which gives him a unique place in the music universe. Nobody does strange and dark circus music, minimalist way ahead of its time, like Singapour and Diamonds and Gold.

 

Of course, the voice. What a voice. The incredible storyteller Waits is cuts two-thirds of his lengthy songs to focus on shorter punchier songs, compared to his earlier piano-bar material. Accordion, xylophones and circus instruments are often used on this rich album. The title-song is a great example of how to create powerful rock song without powerful amps. 30 years later, it will be “normal” to hear those types of arrangements: Patrick Watson or Moriarty use them all the time. But in 1985, when Duran Duran and Madonna reigned, there wasn’t such music as Tom Waits’. A true pioneer.

 

In studio, guitarist Marc Ribot remembers Waits getting sounds by hitting objects, like a chest of drawers with a two-by-four. Keith Richards was also invited to play on a couple of songs: the two musicians got along as they let them be guided by their animal instinct, rather than notes on a sheet of paper.

On “Rain Dogs”, there aren’t any weak songs. If it’s not the music, or the uniqueness, it’s the beautiful melodies. One of his most inspired songs, Time, is featured halfway through this 19-song opus. “Rain Dogs” is 54 minutes long, which is way more than the average 80s album.

TOM WAITS
Rain Dogs
(Island Records, 1985)

-Genre: underground blues
-Sounds like… nobody else!

Follow the artist via his Facebook page

Réagissez à cet article / Comment this article

commentaires / comments

About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier
Fondateur et rédacteur en chef
Google+

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 4 500 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Nicolas a publié "Les perles rares et les grands crus de la musique" en janvier 2013, un ouvrage de 1250 pages en deux tomes.