One of Waits’ most celebrated albums, Swordfishtrombones, was released in 1983. It marked a move for Waits from piano and strings toward more obscure and eclectic instrumentation, introducing the old-fashioned circus vibe for which he is now well-known.
Here’s my first Tom Waits song since February of 2013, when another track from Rain Dogs popped up as a Random iTunes Weekend selection. As usual, this is the first time I’ve heard a song from that album since that earlier post.
I’ve never paid much attention to Waits, though he’s clearly worthy of it. He’s particularly effective as a poet of the streets, a role Bruce Springsteen rode to much greater heights.
Season One introduced on a special crime task force utilizing the titular wire to build a case against the city’s major drug runners. That group of cops and lawyers form the spine of the whole series. But the smaller universe of characters in that season were a group of “corner boys” caught between their criminal bosses and the police.
I haven’t actually listened to the whole thing through yet so today’s random selection is new to me. I like it well enough.
So my goal this week was to single out some artists I’ve heard about but never really heard. I went with two bona fide legends (Tom Waits and Patti Smith), two lesser-known but well-regarded 70s bands (Buzzoccks and Faces) and one contemporary artist who enjoys great critical acclaim (Bjork).
Overall, my takeaway is that I wasn’t missing much. I’m most intrigued by Tom Waits, though his voice remains a stumbling block, and I like the idea of Patti Smith even if her song didn’t completely sell me. Faces seems like a generic 70s rock band. Buzzcocks wrote a great song but their style isn’t up my alley. And Bjork is intriguing but too much of an art-school show-off to really grab me.