Swordfishtrombones – Tom Waits

I thought today I would try to recreate my Tennessee Christmas holiday, I decided to listen to this album tonight drinking Jack Daniels, a Tennessee whisky. When we were younger, we read that Keith Richards’ current drink of choice was the very Rock ‘n’ Roll Wild Turkey. So we decided to follow our mentor, Keith, down this particular path, however there was a problem. As we had drunk nothing but Post-punk Snakebite (lager and cider mix) Wild Turkey was quite a blow to our sensitive young palettes and it turned out that none of us really liked whisky that much. So I am sitting here, nursing a whisky for 90 minutes (I never did develop a taste for it) and it couldn’t really be Tennessee, as there are no squirrels, to quote Werner Herzog, please describe an encounter with a squirrel.
This is the absolute perfect album to pretend to drink whisky to, especially In the Neighbourhood, which is not only one of his best songs, it must rate as one of my favourite songs ever, behind Joni Mitchell’s Blue of course (the most perfect song in the world).
Micro review; A trailer park Captain Beefheart, but must we always refer to him as rum-soaked.
Hidden gem; 16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought-Six (I stood about 5 feet from him when he played this on the music TV show, the Tube in the mid 1980s, I was never the same again)

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Rain Dogs – Tom Waits

This album sounded great tonight, although the post-urban, street-blues noir was a bit lost in semi-rural Durham. I love the track Tango Till They’re Sore, and I thought it was inspired to get Les Dawson to play piano (sorry, couldn’t resist that). It is a ‘pop song’ constructed from the leftovers of a New Orleans funeral band.
One of the best songs on the album, for me, is Gun Street Girl. Acoustic blues noir of a mythic Midwestern American landscape of gas station bathrooms, buying second-hand Novas and then leaving for Indiana. I could only imagine as an English teen how exotic and exciting these places seemed, that was until I went there. I asked my wife to give me a Tom Wait’s experience of the Midwest. I wanted to see greasy gas stations with blues banjo players sitting outside, playing and singing like their lives depended on it. However, the Midwest wasn’t exactly how I had imagined. Tom should have really highlighted the area as moderately prosperous farming states, obsessed by basketball and having a tendency towards tornadoes in early Summer. I also never saw anyone who I would have considered Cuban-chinese.
Most albums released in the 1980s seem to smell of the decade, and the instrumental and lyrical tropes of the time litter them. Rain Dogs has none of these tropes, it sounds like the anti-80s, he even made the accordion sound sexy and dangerous.
Four word review; Kurt Weill on food stamps