Tom Waits – Rain Dogs

Tom Waits – Rain Dogs The middle album of the trilogy that includes Swordfishtrombones and Franks Wild Years, Rain Dogs is Waits’s best overall effort. The songs are first-rate, and there are a lot of them–19 in all, ranging from grim nightlife memoirs (« 9th and Hennepin, » « Singapore ») to portraits of small-time hustlers (« Gun Street Girl, » « Union Square ») to bursts of street-corner philosophy (« Blind Love, » « Time »). Tom Waits – Rain Dogs also contains the original version of « Downtown Train, » which Rod Stewart turned into a smash hit. The image of « rain dogs »–animals who’ve lost their way home because the rain has washed away their scent–is an appropriate symbol for the entire cast of characters Waits has brought to life over the years, and this album has thus far proved to be his most enduring effort. –Daniel Durchholz

AMG review: With its jarring rhythms and unusual instrumentation — marimba, accordion, various percussion — as well as its frequently surreal lyrics, Tom Waits – Rain Dogs is very much a follow-up to Swordfishtrombones, which is to say that it sounds for the most part like The Threepenny Opera being sung by Howlin’ Wolf. The chief musical difference is the introduction of guitarist Marc Ribot, who adds his noisy leads to the general cacophony. But Rain Dogs is sprawling where its predecessor had been focused: Tom Waits’ lyrics here sometimes are imaginative to the point of obscurity, seemingly chosen to fit the rhythms rather than for sense. In the course of 19 tracks and 54 minutes, Waits sometimes goes back to the more conventional music of his earlier records, which seems like a retreat, though such tracks as the catchy « Hang Down Your Head, » « Time, » and especially « Downtown Train » (frequently covered and finally turned into a Top Ten hit by Rod Stewart five years later) provide some relief as well as variety. The album can’t surprise as Swordfishtrombones had, and in his attempt to continue in the direction suggested by that album, Waits occasionally borders on the chaotic (which may only be to say that, like most of his records, this one is uneven). But much of the music matches the earlier album, and there is so much of it that that is enough to qualify it as one of Waits’ better albums. –by William Ruhlmann


Tom Waits – Rain Dogs Tracklist

  1.  Singapore 00:00
  2.  Clap Hands 02:45
  3.  Cemetery Polka 06:34
  4.  Jockey Full of Bourbon 08:21
  5.  Tango till They’re Sore 11:08
  6.  Big Black Mariah 14:00
  7.  Diamonds & Gold 16:44
  8.  Hang Down Your Head 19:17
  9.  Time 21:52
  10.  Rain Dogs 25:49
  11.  Midtown [instr.] 28:46
  12.  9th & Hennepin 29:51
  13.  Gun Street Girl 31:47
  14.  Union Square 36:25
  15.  Blind Love 38:51
  16.  Walking Spanish 43:12
  17.  Downtown Train 46:19
  18.  Bride of Rain Dog [instr.] 50:13
  19.  Anywhere I Lay My Head 51:23 

Tom Waits - Rain Dogs

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