Rain Dogs review by Tom Waits

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1985
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.4 (20 votes)
Tom Waits: Rain Dogs

Sound — 10
Tom Waits' Rain Dogs is a unique and innovative masterpiece. A marvellous mixture of blues, jazz, county, rock, and stuff that's impossible to catagorise, all served up with bags of gravel, guts and soul. If you're used to mainstream rock/pop then this album will sound like nothing you've ever heard before. There are songs on this album that make you wonder how anyone could make something so strange, sound so sweet. Songs like "Cemetery Polka", which has some of the nuttiest melodies you could ever hope to hear outside of a Frank Zappa album, and yet it works so wonderfully. "Tango Till They're Sore" begins with piano chords that sound slightly drunken, but you keep listening, and you're rewarded with a wonderfully honest and soulful song. There are some incredible rhythms, featuring unusual percussive instruments. You won't find any cliched drum patterns here.

Lyrics — 10
The lyrics throughout the entire album are full of dark poetry and dusty, gritty, broken glass imagery. "Let narrow bone and cleaver chose while making feet for children's shoes", "Uncle Phil can't live without his pills, he has emphysema and he's almost blind, and we must find out where the money is, get it now before he loses his mind", "She has that razor sadness that only gets worse with the clang and the thunder of the southern pacific going by. And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet, till you're full of rag water, bitters and blue ruin, and you spill out over the side to anyone who'll listen". This, together with Tom's magnificently scratchy gutbucket vocals, makes for a ball-grabbing musical experience, and if music doesn't grab you by the balls, it ain't doing it's job right?

Overall Impression — 10
This is a most extraordinary album. It's musically challenging, and yet you can sing along to it in the shower, which was a new one on me. Normally if I like an album straight away, I get bored with it after a couple of months, and never want to hear it again, instantly likable, soon forgotten. Rain Dogs is the exception that proves the rule. I loved it when I first heard it, and I'm still enjoying it years later. "A taxi? We'd rather walk, huddle a doorway with the Rain Dogs, for I am a Rain Dog too."

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