Saturday, 23 August 2014

Tom Waits - 'Jockey Full Of Bourbon'

Repeat Prescriptions....The Top 100 Classic Albums Of All Time that you keep coming back to!



Like doing a university course as a mature student, I am returning to my musical education and filling in the gaps. I intend to revisit The 100 Best Albums Of All Time (see them all here) as recommended by Q Magazine back when the poll was last done in 2006. Some I will know and love, some I will have skimmed and some I will not even have given time of day. This will all change when I listen to every album in full as it was intended, from 100 to 1, and choose my favourite song from each.



Album Number 99: Tom Waits - Rain Dogs - Jockey Full Of Bourbon (1985)

I have to admit I was dubious about listening to Tom Waits. It's all Old Pa's fault really, I was traumatised at a young age with the wailing and painful to listen to, Waltzing Matilda. Basically it is because of those memories that I wrote off Tom Waits completely. This is where I really appreciate this project. Having to play something I would never otherwise bother with, already happy with the opinion I set at probably aged 10, means I have to listen to it objectively and make an educated opinion. I compare it to saying you don't like mushrooms when you are a kid and find out you actually love them as an adult. Okay, maybe its going a bit too far to say I love Tom Waits, but I will certainly listen to more. What I do love about him is his talent for imagery and story telling. If he sticks to his raspy, whispery prose and leaves the wailing slow ballads behind, he has a fan in Shell Hunter for sure.

When I first put on Rain Dogs, I laughed out loud. Was this guy for real? Who bought this sort of weird music? I warmed to it quickly though as it took me far away to the back streets of New Orleans, into smokey dimly lit bars with sordid characters at every turn. The track 9th & Hennepin is the perfect example and I would have chosen this as my favourite but didn't fully consider it an actual song. Its like film noir or even like one of my favourite films Sin City with its narration and descriptions.

Jockey Full Of Bourbon was a clear highlight early on as it ticked lots of boxes for me. It showcases Tom in the way I think he is best, no wailing here! It may not sound like a circus like some of the random songs on the album but it's got a great gritty feel to it. Add to that a Calexico sounding guitar riff and I could be in the streets of Havana or Mexico City!

Shell Hunter's Seal Of Approval


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Tom Waits - 'Jockey Full Of Bourbon'
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Oleh

8 comments

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23 August 2014 at 20:20

I looked over that list and I am dubious...but, I'm looking forward to your assessment.

I am not at all dubious of Tom Waits or this particular song.

An absolute favorite and I'm gonna pull it up on my phone right now.

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23 August 2014 at 21:15

If push came to shove, I'd probably plump for 'Rain Dogs' as my favourite Tom Waits LP - it's a tough call though. Everything post 'Swordfishtrombones' is pretty impeccable in my book. If you liked '9th & Hennepin' you'll be pleased to know that many of his subsequent albums feature at least one similar, atmospheric, spoken word oddity, my pick being 'What's He Building?' from 'Mule Variations.
Around the time of 'Rain Dogs' Tom Waits starred in one of my favourite films, 'Down By Law' and 'Jockey Full Of Bourbon' is used to great effect in the opening sequence.

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24 August 2014 at 09:27

I am not convinced anymore with these top 100 type charts.People vote normally for the current vogue and your older fan probably can't be arsed. However in theory it is a great idea and you can only play what is in front of you (come on Andy).
It is great that you finally can listen to TW after the abuse I gave you all these years ago...it's great you can get into these classic albums at your own pace, without being forced to listen to them by an over enthusiastic fan. You are on a fabulous journey!

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24 August 2014 at 12:44

Nice descriptive write up, I too think that I've been scarred by Old Pa trumpeting (was gonna say tromboning but that's not appropriate) Tom Waits' weirdness. But then I heard Shore Leave and the imagery that brought to my imagination of a sailor in some far flung bar in deepest darkest Phillipines or somewhere. I recently heard Picture in a Frame from Mule Variations which was one of Guy Garvey's Desert Island Discs and thought it was amazing. I want to get into Tom Waits but he's so prolific with a very fruitful career I just don't know where to start.

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28 August 2014 at 11:48

Thanks all for your comments! I have to agree with you all being dubious with these lists, 2006 was a long time so now but there are some undeniable classics in there. It's a fair base to start with. TS, thanks for the recommendations, I will definitely check out the track and another film to watch, great stuff!

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28 August 2014 at 13:48

I agree with Old Pa that these 'Best of' lists are rarely what they're cracked up to be and are usually shoved into an issue of a music mag to pad out a slow news month. They're always a great source of conversation among fellow obsessives though aren't they? That's the reason I didn't click on the link to see what's coming - I want to be delighted or outraged with every album you unveil in the coming weeks and months and then enjoy the debate in the comments section thereafter. In retrospect, this seems such an obvious idea for a series, but some of the very best ideas are the seemingly obvious ones. Thanks again for coming up with it Shell Hunter. It's gonna be fun.
As for 2006 being a long time ago....for some of us of a certain vintage, it seems like only yesterday. I recently came across my own handwritten list of favourite LPs and singles for 1984, which I'm going to feature in a future post. Now that was a long time ago!

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sfw
29 August 2014 at 12:38

Tom waits is an artist that does not excite me. It's probably an age thing but I do like your food analogy, I never used to like black pudding....

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30 August 2014 at 20:48

'Rain Dogs' is simply superb and definitely one of Tom's all time best. I like early boho hobo Tom, too but he really took off with 'Rain Dogs' (well, with 'Swordfishtrombones' as well). Once tried to do a folk-rock version of 'Clao Hands' - it was shit. All hail Tom Waits.

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