Review Summary: Rain Dogs may not be Waits’ First trek in to Experimental it is however his strongest showing. Many lump this albums with Swordfish Trombones, and Franks Wild years, but this is the highlight of Wait’s in the 80’s. The listener is also introduced
Rain Dogs' is a very peculiar experience. This is especially true if this is the first time you have listened to Mr. Waits. Wait’s voice and singing style in the beginning is very abrasive, yet as the album develops the listener is memorized by his gruff vocals. Rain Dogs is a pit stop on his journey in to the experimental realm. His previous works were heavily influenced by Jazz, and many times eccentrically opposed to mainstream music. Many point to his previous album Swordfish Trombones as his first full fledged foray into the genre, and Rain Dogs exemplifies his progression.
The album starts off very bold the fast paced “Singapore” that really highlights waits vocal prowess. The album then progresses in to ‘Clap hands’, which introduces the audience to some of the unusual instrumentation. ‘Cemetery Polka’ continues this trend with a hardened example of Wait’s voice. “Jockey Full of Bourbon” shows that Waits hasn’t completely left the lounge singer act, Yet even in very familiar setting he still adds New Orleans style brass to set it apart. ‘Big Black Mariah’ continues the trend of ‘Singapore’ in that it’s fast and boisterous. The album slows down a bit for ‘Diamonds and Gold’, ‘Hang down you Head’, and the Ballad ‘Time’. Waits voices is very easy and calm in these three songs, and is a perfect complement to the beautiful composition that accompanies his singing. The song structures of the second half of the album change up with a spoken track ‘9th and Hennepin’. The highlight of this side is ‘Rain Dogs’ which will surely excite any fans of the accordion. ‘Walking Spanish’ provides a bluesy feel with wait’s voices bleeding out from it. ‘Downtown Train’ is slow and easy and gives you a taste of why Wait’s songs are frequently covered. The album ends with Wait’s howling melodically in “Anywhere I Lay My Head” and closes the album perfectly.
Rain Dogs may not be Waits’ First trek in to Experimental it is however his strongest showing. Many lump this albums with Swordfish Trombones, and Franks Wild Years, but this is the highlight of Wait’s in the 80’s. The listener is also introduced to a sound that Wait’s will build upon later in his Career. This album is definitely the entry point for anyone interested in Tom Waits, because you hear Wait’s roots in Jazz, and also enjoy his experimentation. This album is a prime example of what complete artistic control in the music industry can produce. I recommend listening to the album a in its entirety a couple of times through to really get the full experience and appreciate what Mr. Waits has accomplices in this album