Tom Waits
Nighthawks At The Diner


4.0
excellent

Review

by ZiggyPop USER (10 Reviews)
October 16th, 2010 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tom Waits 'live' and so, so good.

In 1975 Tom Waits was still fairly unknown, and there was a mutual feeling that a live album would capture the personality of the beatnik stageman. This plan was executed in the best way – a concert was recorded in a New York studio. A large room in the back of Record Plant Studios was set up with a stage and tables, drinks on the house. The best of four performances are mixed together on Nighthawks at the Diner, and create a world of smoky nightclubs on late foggy nights.

This kind of control allows for fantastic sound. Engineers could manipulate the environment to their liking, and the natural balance of audience to band is perfect. Tom's voice permeates the mix just enough to ensure his words are heard clearly.

The band is spot-on, playing tight, dynamic, and smooth jazz. Tenor sax, piano, upright bass, and a kit create a combo well equipped for the job. These guys were on Heart of Saturday Night too, and their chops hold true on this live effort.

Tom greets the crowd,

Well, an inebriated good evening to you all.
Welcome to Rapheal's Silver Cloud Lounge.
Slip me a little crimson Jimson, give me the low down Brown,
I want some scoop Betty Boop. I'm on my way into town.


His off-the-cuff remarks and verses are really what make this record special. With an intro before almost every song, the band works out the tune while Tom says what's on his mind. The intro to Better off Without a Wife tells how Tom sometimes just want's to call himself up and have a romantic evening.

Emotional Weather Report is the first song on the record. Waits' mental health status is pondered over a walking bass and piano shots. This track brings out the theme of solitary late-night life he seems inclined to sing about, and continues with On a Foggy Night.

A highlight on this record is definitely Eggs and Sausage, dedicated to “all the gypsy hacks and insomniacs” in all-night diners. With piano flourishes and soulful sax lines this track moves at at a
deep blusey pace.

Big Joe and Phantom 309 is the last song on the album, and Tom brings the crowd into a tale about hitchhiking with a trucker hero. The story ends in a truckstop, yet another diner in Tom's late-night life.

The album finishes with “I gotta go see a man about a dog. See you later,” a simple goodbye from Tom. He thanks the crowd and the band while the jazz combo lays down some jive, and brings everything to a big finish.

The atmosphere maintained on this album is witty, dark, and a little absurd – really the best qualities of Tom Waits. At around seventy minutes it's a lengthy listen, especially since paying attention to Wait's words is half the point, but well worth it. Maybe not the best place to start for new listeners, but this record gives an intimate picture of one of the most unique American songwriters of the century's live personality.

Oh, and to make it more awesome, Edward Hopper's 1942 painting Nighthawks was inspiration for the album's mood, and a burlesque dancer warmed up for Tom Waits on all four performances.



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user ratings (136)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2010


7307 Comments


Review's decent. Not outstanding to be honest, but solid.

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

couldwinarabbit
October 16th 2010


6996 Comments


Tom Waits = best singer/songwriter ever.

thebhoy
Emeritus
October 16th 2010


4461 Comments


yep

TheBoss88
October 16th 2010


208 Comments


Such a phenomenal album. This isn't the masterpiece that say Rain Dogs or Bone Machine is, but it's just another great aspect of Tom Waits impressive catalog.

couldwinarabbit
October 16th 2010


6996 Comments


I like swordfishtrombone the most. But that and Rain dogs are both crazy good albums.

JubJub12
October 16th 2010


24 Comments


decent review, like irving said

420yeah666yeah69
October 16th 2010


35 Comments


good review. m/

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2011


6147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review, pos.

I got this today, can't wait to get home and dwell in it.



From the text, this is ideal for a swell nightly listen.

Digging: Raven Throne - ???????? ?????????

DoubtGin
May 12th 2011


6752 Comments


this motherfucker probably has the most consistent discography ever

julien
February 19th 2012


75 Comments


@DoubtGin completely agree, it's incredible how he's able to record so prolifically and never really falter

Sowilei
June 10th 2012


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sniff...Tom Waits has a so affecting voice. Older than Rain Dogs and Bone Machine, my favourite, before the turning point
of his career thanks to his wife and the great Swordfishtrombones, Nighthawks... is a marvelous album-concert, where
Tom Waits reveals all his theatrical talent. I cried during Better Off without a wife and Big Joe and Phantom 309, I exulted
during Nighthawk Postcards the two parts of Spare.

cb123
August 16th 2013


2021 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is so awesome

InbredJed
August 16th 2013


5917 Comments


Does it has breakdown?

Digging: JJ Cale - Okie

DominionMM1
August 16th 2013


9991 Comments


not one of my favorites from him

cb123
August 16th 2013


2021 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Tom breaks it down pretty hard



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