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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Rain Dogs

Tom Waits

1985

Rain Dogs

Album Summary

Rain Dogs is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Tom Waits, released in September 1985 on Island Records. A loose concept album about "the urban dispossessed" of New York City, Rain Dogs is generally considered the middle album of a trilogy that includes Swordfishtrombones and Franks Wild Years.The album, which includes appearances by guitarists Keith Richards and Marc Ribot, is noted for its broad spectrum of musical styles and genres, described by Arion Berger in a 2002 review in Rolling Stone as merging "outsider influences – socialist decadence by way of Kurt Weill, pre-rock integrity from old dirty blues, the elegiac melancholy of New Orleans funeral – into a singularly idiosyncratic American style."The album peaked at number 29 on the UK charts and number 188 on the US Billboard Top 200. In 1989, it was ranked number 21 on the Rolling Stone list of the "100 greatest albums of the 1980s." In 2012, the album was ranked number 399 on the magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", and at number 357 in 2020.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.19

Votes

5778

Genres

  • Folk
  • Rock
  • Singer Songwriter
Reviews
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Wed Aug 04 2021
5

I'm one of those tiresome people who would probably give TW five stars for 45 minutes of farting in a bathtub. Nonetheless, this is a hell of a listening experience. Insanely good!

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Sat Jan 23 2021
1

wtf. weird, like halloween music

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Sat Jul 24 2021
5

Tom Waits is a maniac. He’s playing this old school, traditional style of music but almost nothing about it sounds old or traditional. I’m way into how weird this is and I really wanna dig hard into his catalog.

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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

4.7 - Vignettes of New York life from the perspective of the burnouts, vagabonds and losers sung by Waits' gravelly voice over the clangy, moaning and squeaky acoustic instruments. A wonderfully broad swath of genres that envelope a grimy and expansive soundscape. It channels the dirtbag spirit of Bukowski with the unflinching eye of Steinbeck, performed in the trashcan of Oscar the Grouch.

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Wed Aug 18 2021
5

An album from 1985 that sounds over 100 years old. Amazing

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Wed Feb 03 2021
5

Deep and wide and scary and charming.

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Fri Jan 29 2021
5

"Rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy" - Tom Waits. Enuff Said.

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Sun Oct 24 2021
5

The first "weird-period" Waits album I listened to. Still mostly unskippable, it's like being read Chandler in translation by a gypsy leprechaun. Remarkable work. (Man, I wish I could play guitar like Marc Ribot. What an absolute GUN.)

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Fri Apr 01 2022
5

Tim Burton wrote this album about a immortal pirate who moves to New Orleans

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Fri Jul 22 2022
5

I want this man to be my Psychopomp, shoutout to Wristcutters!

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Fri Jul 22 2022
5

I never guessed Alice’s Wonderland had such a fiery dive bar.

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Thu Jun 10 2021
5

Amazing. I don't know what to call it, except marvelous and artistic. A defined yet diverse style which is very spoken for.

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Mon Feb 22 2021
5

Didn't realize he was in seven psychopaths.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
5

SIMPLE THE BEST

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Mon Mar 01 2021
5

Sounds like nothing else, wonderful and complicated

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

This is Bone Machine but written by a (slightly) younger man in his prime. Fantastic. When I first heard this in approx 1985, (my Dad played it to me) I didn't understand it at all, it was completely unintelligible to me and I hated it. 10 years later it was one of my favourite albums. Clap Hands - yep, a big round of applause from me.

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Mon Oct 18 2021
5

Incredible. This album is gritty and unique. The subject matter and the very style of the music itself match perfectly. Even without the lyrics, this album would still sound like the dejected of New York.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
5

Tom Waits: Patron saint of misfits, weirdos and lost souls everywhere. I can't think of another album that has more character, or one that's much better at evoking atmosphere and mood. I suspect this album confuses some people. That's a selling point as far as I'm concerned. If you want to stop reading here, I have one thing to say: This album is a masterpiece. It’s just a deeply, deeply cool album. Rain Dogs is the second in a trilogy of albums (along with Swordfishtrombones and Franks Wild Years) Waits created in the 1980s which represented a sharp shift in his musical style. It’s maybe a challenging listen for some, but it’s really not that hard. You see, Waits is an excellent songwriter. He knows how to make melodic, affecting music. But he also likes to keep it interesting, and a central principle of his style is to take the familiar and make it ugly (“fuck it up” as I believe Robert Christgau put it). Waits created a style of music all his own, a bricolage of sounds and eras that takes you to another place. It’s like a detour through a dark, gritty world that has a thousand stories of hard luck cases and scoundrels. Waits also has some remarkable musicians working him, including the brilliant Mark Ribot on guitar. The use of percussion here is also second to none, with Waits incorporating multiple drummers and percussionists. I mean how many albums have you heard that make effective use of a marimba, parade drum, congas and a bowed saw? I haven’t even mentioned half the instruments that appear on this album. On paper it’s a kitchen sink approach, but Waits really makes it work, he brings it alive. The bruised cherry on top is of course Waits himself, with that famous raspy, theatrical vocal style. In the 80s this album was a thrilling antidote to the overly produced music of the time. Now it’s simply timeless. Fave Songs: Downtown Train, Jockey Full of Bourbon, Hang Down Your Head, Time, Diamonds and Gold, Clap Hands, Tango Till They're Sore, Big Black Mariah

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Fri May 21 2021
4

I saw the word "experimental" on the Wikipedia page and got a bit of a preconceived notion about the album, but you know what? I really really enjoyed this. The melodies, the delivery, the instrumental arrangements. SO CLOSE to a 5 for me, but I'll definitely re-visit and check out more of Tom Waits!

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Tue Jul 06 2021
4

Local man possessed by the spirit of creole jazz, more at 11. The more I reflect on this record, the more I really like it. Tom Waits is an insane man, and it translates heavily into his music. Love the marimba and the unusual... everything about this album. Favorite tracks: "Jockey Full of Bourbon", "Big Black Mariah", "Union Square"

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Fri Jan 15 2021
3

I don't like his voice. the music is kinds jarring as well. It is very dark. Base licks and guitar riffs are nice. Big Black Mariah is good-Very blues rock. Rain Dogs (the song) might have won me over. Over all a tough album to listen to, I did enjoy a couple of songs. Singapore is probably the most interesting song, not saying I like it, just am compelled by the playfulness in the music, and the darkness in the lyrics/vocals.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
1

This album was weird and jarring! If I can give 0 stars, I would!

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Fri Oct 14 2022
1

WTF is this? Terrible... It sounds like drunk Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean trying to make a concept album...

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Tue Feb 09 2021
5

That voice!

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Mon Feb 01 2021
5

Gloriously weird. No-one does it like Waits. My fave Waits album is The Mule Variations, and Rain Dogs kinda prefigures that, so I'll definitely be revisiting. Fave track - well, I love that "Jockey Full of Bourbon" sounds like the Black Books intro theme (or rather, the other way around) but was really grabbed by "Singapore" this time around...

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Wed Mar 31 2021
5

A Waits classic!

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Wed May 05 2021
5

Still top dogger

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Tue Apr 13 2021
5

great album, thank you

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Wed May 12 2021
5

Love it!

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Wed May 26 2021
5

Tom Waits is een held

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Wed Jul 14 2021
5

What an enticing album! Lives up to its ratings for sure.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

Never listened to this album before. Maybe heard one song on it (Downtown Train) prior to this. Wasn’t sure how I would fare staring at 19 of these tracks ahead… “Singapore” was a great surprise! Had no idea I would like it so much. Then “Clap Hands” proved to be surprisingly enjoyable. Great percussion. “Cemetery Polka” has incredible imagery and music. Really like “Hang Down Your Head” and “Rain Dogs.” “Midtown” feels like an amazing intermission. “Downtown Train” ls so much more meaningful than Rod Stewart’s remake. This album has surprises, twists and turns and is a real journey I’m glad to have made.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

Tom Waits is one of those artists that I always felt I was just expected to like. So I resisted liking him for a long time. And then one day...I guess I finally heard the right song(s) or something and now I love him. It feels to me like he channels music from somewhere not of this world. Good variety of styles on this record. Not every song speaks to me personally (sorry Downtown Train) but there are a few that I love a lot (Jockey Full of Bourbon, Big Black Mariah, Gun Street Girl). I've heard the comparison to Cookie Monster before but this is the first time I've noticed that sometimes Tom Waits sounds like Christopher Lloyd (specifically on the title track here).

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Fri Dec 03 2021
5

I first heard Tom Waits almost 30 years ago - and I filed away as weird and not for me. Revisiting it, I found it to be amazing. Really enjoyed this.

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Fri Dec 17 2021
5

Discazo que me hace preguntarme por qué no le entré antes a Tom Waits y solo ubico covers que le han hecho. Me encanta el feeling de dirge de NOLA que tienen muchas de las canciones, que pese a ser basicamente oscuras y de temáticas fuertes provocan ganas de bailar. Y al final resulta que el disco no es ni siquiera muy largo, aunque tiene 19 canciones apenas llega a la hora; sin embargo esa hora con la voz de Waits sí llega a ser mucho y es mi único punto relativamente en contra, porque su voz cuadra perfecto con la estética.

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Fri Dec 17 2021
5

Tom Waits es sin chistar de mis artistas favoritos. Y sí, es artista en toda la expresión de la palabra; hay pocos que pueden tener su versatilidad de medios, profundidad y peso de mensaje junto con calidad musical. Probablemente mi disco favorito de él, aunque hay por ahí otro posible que le pelea el puesto. Cabaret oscuro realmente exquisito y a quien no le guste su voz pues... que aburrido.

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Thu Dec 30 2021
5

singapore stimmt ein. nicht bluesig - herzerweichende außenseiterballaden, sondern morbide, bisweilen dämonische stories gibts hier. geräusche, perkussion glocken geil eingesetzt (Marimba voll oft, zb auf rain dogs) voll abwechslungsreich, stilistisch, soundmäßig, aber auch von der gesangsfarbe (von springsteen und tom petty, über country bis zu alter seemann alles dabei) jockey full of burbon macht lust auf totentanz Mega

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Sat Jan 08 2022
5

One of his many great albums.

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Tue Jan 25 2022
5

Poslusala sam prvih 10 sekundi albuma prije nego su mi slušalice crkle i mislila sam si ma de dobro buraz kae ovo kaj si lud. ALI! Došo Tom i opalio mi samarčinu i reko kae kaj si TI luda. Svaka pjesma mi je jebena bila i imam osjecaj da svaka može biti singl. Topcina. Bravo Tomislave.

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Wed Jan 26 2022
5

Love it

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Mon Feb 14 2022
5

Great album - great songs - especially Side A in its entirety - but it’s a tiny tiny bit too long - even though the quality is high throughout

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Thu Mar 10 2022
5

Não conhecia. Amei. As músicas são bem curtas.

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Sat Mar 19 2022
5

The sound of a truck load of instruments getting shoved down the stairs and the aborted fetus of Wait's songs spilling out on the floor while some dogs lick up the afterbirth as the stranger in the basement bangs about with a broomstick on pots and pans and the heat pipes cough. Best Tracks: Jockey Full of Bourbon; Gun Street Girl; Anywhere I Lay My Head

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Tue Apr 05 2022
5

Y'know I actually really like Tom Waits. I used to not get his style. I still don't, too. But I like it!

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Mon Apr 18 2022
5

J’adore, je comprend le style et le cult following. C’est vraiment special et unique en son genre. Un super album que tous doivent ecouter, 5

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Tue May 03 2022
5

this album is a treasure

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Fri Jun 10 2022
5

LP

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Tue Jun 21 2022
5

'Singapore' as the opening track sets this album off on the right foot straight away. Classic Tom Waits genius of eclectic musings set to a soundtrack that sends your mind into a world of basement jazz bars and lonely streets.

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Sat Jul 30 2022
5

Deadly

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Mon Aug 01 2022
5

Ruw, maar mooi. Gevarieerd & album blijft leuk

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Wed Aug 10 2022
5

Classic - hold on

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Thu Aug 11 2022
5

Where do I start here?? Obviously, one does not listen to Tom Waits for his voice, just as one does not listen to Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen for the same reason. Waits is a wonderful and unique poet, His lyrics on this album paint a picture of a down and dirty city life. One of my favorites is the sad but beautiful "Time." Waits is also a musical craftsman, putting sounds together unlike any other artist. The song titles Rain Dogs and Bride of Rain Dogs made me think of Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein. I see the similarity in that Waits takes parts from different bodies (of work), sews them together, and brings the result back to life in strange and unnatural ways.

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Thu Aug 11 2022
5

Rain Dogs makes me nostalgic for a time and place that feel long ago and far away and that in reality only exist in Tom Waits' mind. Tom is a masterful lyricist, resulting in songs that paint pictures with their words. Tom's raspy voice, whimsical arrangements, and eclectic instrumentation all make this an unmistakable Tom Waits album and unlike anything else. If you can get past how freakin' weird it is, you'll be rewarded with a 54 minute vacation from reality well worth taking. "Singapore," "Hang Down Your Head," "Time," "Rain Dogs," and "Downtown Train" are the standouts for me.

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Wed Sep 07 2022
5

This one's already very fun! Strange guy, never listened to Tom Waits before. It really gives the guy from Over the Garden Wall, the Highwayman. I like it! Old soulful dark barstool crooning, bluesy.

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Wed Sep 21 2022
5

Oh shit guess we are in it now with Singapore. Clap Hands sounds really familiar. This one is more snappy and to the point than Swordfishtrombones, which was a good one. Gun Street Girl is killer. Walking Spanish is so evocative.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
5

Five stars. One of the absolute best albums on the list.

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Mon Oct 03 2022
5

Solid 5.

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Tue Oct 04 2022
5

Un album que je possède et ai écouté souvent. Impossible de ne pas avoir de frissons quand on entend Anywhere I Lay My Head... J'aime la voix et j'aime que ce soit unique.

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Thu Oct 06 2022
5

Everyone deserves to hear Tom Waits' cigarettes and sandpaper voice sing them this gutter opera.

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Fri Oct 07 2022
5

Fantastic collection different sounds and moods for each song all tied together by the uniquely beautiful voice of Tom Waits

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Tue Oct 11 2022
5

This was a bit of a treat. With Tom Waits it kind of depends on whether or not you like his shtick, and I generally do. But I don't think I'd ever heard this record, though I know some of the songs. It's great, musicically adventurous and lyrically interesting. Best song for me is Hang Down Your Head just pipping the more obvious Downton Train.

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Tue Oct 18 2022
5

Magnificent album, the best of the 'Franks' wild years' trilogy and my favourite Tom Waits album. It's a kaleidoscope of styles, sounds and stories all rooted in a downtown world of dives, old world funerals, and hard-bitten women for whom 'nothing that a $100 wouldn't cure'

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Thu Oct 20 2022
5

This is the second album of the trilogy (along with Swordfish Trombones and Franks Wild Years) that mark the start of the second phase of his career. It's when the influence of his wife Kathleen Brennan starts to be felt. He switches from his old blues/jazzbo style to incorporate influences from everywhere in a much more experimental sound. Tom has been my favorite artist since I first heard Heart of Saturday Night back in the early 70s. This album is quite possibly my favorite (although that varies from day to day). There isn't a bad song on it. I really believe that when the history of 20th century music is written years from now that Tom will be recognized as one of the seminal figures. So many artists are indebted to him for the way he opened the doors to try new things.

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Fri Oct 21 2022
5

ideal long walk home in the rain slicked streets album

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Thu Oct 27 2022
5

Tom's got the magic marimba blues and it's beautiful.

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Sat Oct 29 2022
5

A fucking brilliant Tom Waits album, one of his very best no doubt. Getting this on Halloween weekend also really works for me so cheers for that. Just so much fun. Jockey Full of Bourbon is something else. As is the title track. Marc Ribot is tremendous. All of it is something else. The stories! I feel sad for anyone who just can't enjoy this. But they almost certainly hated Devo too. Phil Collins...

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Wed Nov 09 2022
5

Very unpredictable track to track but still very good

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Thu Nov 10 2022
5

This album is a party. I can't say I was ever much of a Tom Waits fan other than moderately admiring his off-beat persona, but this album changed everything. I love this whole thing from start to finish. I like the instrumentals, Waits's unique voice, the poetic lyrics, and the variations in terms of the musicality. There are songs like Singapore and Clap Hands that are wacky, theatrical pieces, there are songs like 9th and Hennepin that are full-on beat poetry recitations, and then there are songs like Downtown Train that feel like an attempt at a Top 40 single in the style of Dire Straits, the Cars, or Springsteen. Love this album. Will definitely re-listen to it!

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Mon Nov 14 2022
5

Superb album with a great and intense interpretation of all the lyrics and also an outstanding composition: masterpiece!

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Tue Nov 15 2022
5

Late in the evening, in the land of one-armed dwarves, broken promises, women with wooden legs and dive-bars, Tom Waits is King. "I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things"

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Wed Nov 16 2022
5

Classic

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Sat Dec 03 2022
5

A scary drunk (ghost?) pirate wanders into a haunted house, sits down at the piano, and orders another whiskey

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Tue Dec 06 2022
5

While it might be his most commercial album, there is a certain charm to this album that made me a life-long fan.

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

Waits, discussing his mistrust of then fashionable studio techniques, said, "If I want a sound, I usually feel better if I've chased it and killed it, skinned it and cooked it. Most things you can get with a button nowadays. So if I was trying for a certain drum sound, my engineer would say, 'Oh, for Christ's sake, why are we wasting our time? Let's just hit this little cup with a stick here, sample something (take a drum sound from another record) and make it bigger in the mix, don't worry about it.' I'd say, 'No, I would rather go in the bathroom and hit the door with a piece of two-by-four very hard.' Hell ya. Also the inclusion of guitarists Keith Richards and Marc Ribot add a very nice chaotic-playing style. Although quite abrasive, there is a mix of some quieter songs like "Time". Classic Waits.

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

Easily my second favorite Tom Waits album and probably his best. I don't want to live in the world he depicts but goddamn do I love imagining it as he describes it one story at a time. He is the king of texture, especially with his signature outside the box percussion. "Anywhere I Lay My Head" is a fantastic closer, like a New Orleans funeral that tears you up, but also feels triumphant and joyful. Bonus: he mentions both Cincinnati and Minneapolis in the lyrics.

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

His best album in my opinion, which I don't say lightly as a superfan. It sounds like he was so in-stride. In some ways it's a great distillation of his career, because he uses so many styles, dabbles in different genres, uses various voices and characters. Lots of great songs, not a dud on the album. I could go on and on, if I could give this one an extra star I would. My favorites on the album are probably the first and the last song, "Singapore" and "Anywhere I Lay My Head."

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Thu Dec 15 2022
5

My mate, Peter, said he couldn't understand why Tom Waits stopped doing actual songs, and just devolved into "crashing rubbish bins around while screaming", not entirely unfair assessment. Swordfishtrombones was the beginning of that 'devolution', which continues, on Rain Dogs, which is my favourite Tom Waits record. It hits a kind of mid-point between the bar-room balladry of his early albums, with elements of the creepy circus, rubbish-bin-crashing production of his 90s albums. There are some absolute crackers songs on this record (Time, Downtown Train, Hang Down Your Head) that deserve their status as modern standards, along with more atmospheric grooves (Jockey Full of Bourbon, Tango Til Their' Sore), and occasional rocker (Big Black Mariah). It doesn't surprise time that Jockey and Tango ended up on the soundtrack of Down By Law; they fit the dissolute atmosphere of that film (also starring our hero, Mr Waits, as a dissolute loser).. I love Waits quote about production style "If I want a sound, I usually feel better if I've chased it and killed it, skinned it and cooked it." The wrongness of the sounds, the deliberately bad recording quality is, to my ears, charming, but I know not everyone thinks so. MVP on the album is Marc Robot, who is a guitar player who very distinctly plays 'wrong' a lot, but in a way that always catches my ear. In my youth, when friends had a particularly bad break up or some other life set-back, we would buy a bottle of Jamesons, and sit up to 4am commiserating. And this is the record I would play.

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Sat Dec 17 2022
5

Superb album. Great tracks with some super standout numbers, Hang Down Your Head & Jockey Full of Bourbon. Revitalised Rod Stewart’s career as well.

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Tue Dec 20 2022
5

Love it. I could listen to this all the time. Never was there a greater combination than Tom Wait's voice and the quirky folk music he sings over.

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Sun Jan 01 2023
5

I'm quite familiar with this. It's Tom Waits. You probably love it or hate it. This is a no Brainerd 5 for me. Tom is just a phenomenal dude.

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Sat Jan 14 2023
5

Tom Waits at his finest.

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Mon Jan 16 2023
5

I love this album! Tom Waits is definitely an acquired taste though, not everyone's cup of tea.

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Sat Jan 21 2023
5

Genial.

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Sat Jan 21 2023
5

Escuché el primer tema y se me vino a la cabeza instantáneamente la parte de Robots que están en el deshuesadero. Y claro, es un tema del mismo chabón (busquen Underground de Tom Waits). Alto disco, flashero y experimental.

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Fri Jan 27 2023
5

Oui! Un vrai choc. C'est bizarre mais merde c'est beau. Au moins je ne me serai pas lancé dans ce bazar pour rien : j'aurai au moins découvert cet album

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Mon Nov 16 2020
4

Very odd, might come back to it

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Fri Sep 25 2020
4

Fun to listen to all the way through, don’t know that I could add any of these songs to a playlist

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Tue Nov 24 2020
4

First few seconds are very promising. One of my kind of music. Interesting music, interesting rhythm. It is relaxing music, not listening music. 4

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Tue Nov 17 2020
4

9.2/10

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Tue Nov 17 2020
4

This album has some amazing highs but some really bad lows if they would have cut of some of the bad tracks this could easily be a 8-9. for me this album is a 7.3/10

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Thu Jan 14 2021
4

Chill for programming too

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

Took a couple of listens to get into, but I kind of like it now. The first listen was very rough, but subsequent ones were slightly better every time.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Groovy, unforgettable voice. Likes experimental noise a bit too much for my taste

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Thu Jul 15 2021
4

Ewig nicht mehr gehört. Warum eigentlich nicht? Hang Down Your Head ist einfach nur schön. Und Downtown Train! Tom Waits ist ein ganz Großer. I‘ll tell you all my secrets but I lie about my past.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

super interesting

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

I never got what the fuss was with Tom Waits, now I do. That was great, can see how he's so influential.

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

There seems to be something in this gentleman's voice.. probably rocks in a garbage disposal, but i like it

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Wed May 26 2021
4

Some rate this below Swordfishtrombone but I think it ranks with his greatest.

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Sun Feb 14 2021
4

This morning, I'm listening to Rain Dogs by Tom Waits. I like Clap Hands it's got a nice flow and rhythm to it. Like a carnival this is. It makes me think of Charles Bukowski and fun house mirrors. Like a kaleidoscopic, jerky dance along some mirror world of my own. Most Tom Waits listening I do is focused on Mule Variations. Could I become more of a fan of Tom Waits? Listening to one of his albums is challenging and sometimes not very pleasant. Other times I get swept up in melodies that come out of nowhere and make me think this could be the greatest song ever. Maybe this is just what I needed.

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Thu Mar 25 2021
4

This is my kind of weird. Such a cool record. So glad I finally took the time to listen to some Tom Waits.

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