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Rain Dogs

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Album Review

With its jarring rhythms and unusual instrumentation — marimba, accordion, various percussion — as well as its frequently surreal lyrics, 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. Rain Dogs 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 Rain Dogs as one of Waits' better albums.

Customer Reviews

Open your ears, they lead to your brain

This is the sound of raw music. Anyone bored of their music collection, looking for something to satisfy a more simple, primal musical urge, should investigate. Loudly. Sing along, laugh, enjoy, clap hands.

Simply brilliant!!!

I simply don't know what the person who wrote the overall album review for Raindogs is talking about. They clearly don't like the album, which is a real shame. This is one of Tom Waits best. Along with Swordfishtrombones and Frank's Wild Years it goes to make up a trio of musical experiences that take the listener beyond a simple album and into the poetic realm of Wait's genius. This is a unique, stand-out production which surprises, alarms, inspires and down-right entertains to the very end. If only others could match Wait's originality; ability to make the everyday unique and create heroes from the dregs of humanity. A stand out album from a stand out artist, whatever the album reviewer thinks!

Nostalgie de la boue

I was first introduced to this when I was a struggling student, cleaning for a living, who'd only ever listened to pleasant singer-songwriters. Cheesy, but it was a revelation - growled tunes, evocative story-telling and a great stimulus to the imagination - I especially love Walking Spanish down any hall....


Born: 07 December 1949 in Pomona, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the 1970s, Tom Waits combined a lyrical focus on desperate, low-life characters with a persona that seemed to embody the same lifestyle, which he sang about in a raspy, gravelly voice. From the '80s on, his work became increasingly theatrical as he moved into acting and composing. Growing up in Southern California, Waits attracted the attention of manager Herb Cohen, who also handled Frank Zappa, and was signed by him at the beginning of the 1970s, resulting in the material later released as The...
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