Tom Waits - Nighthawks At The Diner - Review
← 338 album.png 340 →

critics' view

Amazingly, the voice of the 25-year-old has aged some 30 years overnight, and we’re to believe he’s now a seasoned old growler who’s sampled his fair share of wine, whiskey and women. I think it’s fair to say it’s an act – but it’s a convincing one, and he has the wit, nous and charm to pull it off splendidly. Exactly in character, this album was conceptualized as an early hours jazz café experience where the ribald atmosphere is perfectly set in the dimly lit venue which glows as red as the wine. Producer Bones Howe had the great idea to capture the flavour of Tom’s stage persona by inviting a small audience to the Record Plant Studio in Los Angeles:

I got Michael Melvoin on piano, and he was one of the greatest jazz arrangers ever; I had Jim Hughart on bass, Bill Goodwin on drums and Pete Christlieb on sax. It was a totally jazz rhythm section. Herb gave out tickets to all his friends, we set up a bar, put potato chips on the tables and we had a sell-out, two nights, two shows a night, July 30 and 31, 1975. I remember that the opening act was a stripper. Her name was Dewana and her husband was a taxi driver. So for her the band played bump-and-grind music – and there's no jazz player who has never played a strip joint, so they knew exactly what to do. But it put the room in exactly the right mood. Then Waits came out and sang “Emotional Weather Report”. Then he turned around to face the band and read the classified section of the paper while they played. It was like Allen Ginsberg with a really, really good band.

As entertaining as the songs themselves are, the extended introductions in which Tom reveals a talent for comedy, all delivered with this new croaky-voice of his, raise the bar considerably in terms of entertainment value. He plays some great characters within the confines of the set, most of whom seem to be mavericks of some sort; bums, dreamers and malcontents. His self-deprecating humour is a big hit with the studio audience and with me. 75 minutes of jazz has rarely sounded so tolerable.

The Jukebox Rebel external-link.png

the-jukebox-rebel.png
A one-man work-in-progress website, aiming for ~10,000 album reviews, ~200,000 track ratings and a whole lotta charts, all from my own collection.
thejukeboxrebel.com external-link.png
twitter.png





Care to share?

(if so, thanks!)

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2019. All rights reserved. Third-party trademarks and content are the property of their respective owners, and subject to their own copyright terms and conditions. See the website links provided in each case.