As the uncrowned king of American lowlife culture, Tom Waits has had a rocky journey through his tortured world, producing an incredible array of music from down at heel bar blues to an experimental Ukrainian folk opera. He spent much of his life in poverty, taking odd jobs (such as being a bouncer) to supplement his booze riddled years in the 70's until in the early 80's Levi’s jeans imitated his voice on an advert after he refused them permission to use his songs. The resulting court case payout enabled Tom Waits to experiment with his music, no longer having to worry about selling enough records to eat.

The result was a trilogy of unsettling albums, 'Swordfish Trombones' (1983), 'Rain Dogs' (1985) and 'Frank’s Wild Years' (1987), all of which moved slowly but surely away from drowsy bar stool blues towards revealing the terrifying inner psyche of Waits. 'Rain Dogs' is a pivotal album often overlooked due to its unorthodox sounds and instruments. For example Waits replaced conventional percussion with junkyard metal to create a kind of creeping, watery church bell clanging. This is none more so than on the menacing ‘Clap Hands,’ where Waits turns his cigarette choked rasp into a sneering whisper. The listener can actually feel the gutter’s current dragging him slowly towards the rain soaked docks.

'Rain Dogs' is a dirty, grimy record that’s drenched to the bone from the relentless seedy drizzle that patters above the dark urban dystopia waiting just beneath the surface. Whilst the 80's was being consumed by testosterone pumped synth rock, Waits was busy working his way through the sewers discovering what it really meant to be born in the USA.











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