6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
One of Wait's finest...,
This review is from: Small Change (Audio CD)
Small Change is where Tom Waits' sound changed for the first major time - but not musically, as it would drastically in the 80s. No, the big change here is VOCALLY - Waits' voice now a deep, drunken, often slurring croak. This not-so-small change takes some getting used to, but if you do you will enjoy one of Tom's best works, intelligent, emotional and beautiful.
1. Tom Traubert's Blues - Paraphrasing Waltzing Matilda, Waits' voice ( low, slow, and croaking ) is completely different to his first 3 albums. However, if this piano-led ballad is slightly overlong it's moving and defining, and went on to be covered by Rod Stewart.
2. Step Right Up - A jazzier, upbeat number, with a repetitive riff and a giddy Waits rapping over the top. Fun and a good example of the album's clever sequencing, stopping the mood from becoming monotone which was the only real flaw of Nighthawks At The Diner.
3. Jitterbug Boy. Slurring more than ever, Waits tells tall stories over his piano again. More lyrical genius, and worth sticking with.
4. I Wish I Was In New Orleans. Showing perhaps the biggest debt to Satchmo, this really is reminiscent of Louis Armstrong and again more ballad-like.
5. The Piano Has Been Drinking ( Not Me ). More cleverness here from Tom, check out the line about not being able to find the waitress with a geiger-counter. Like speaking to the piano player in the bar on Closing Time only to find he's inebriated, it's a highlight here, with much typical sly Tom humour.
6. Invitation To The Blues. One of the more accessible songs here, this is another story-song but not as eccentric as it would be on, say, Blue Valentine. More downbeat than the preceding number.
7. Pasties & a G-String. Tom's extremely risque lyrics ( harder than Chinese Algebra? Make a dead man come? ) fit over his deliberately goofy percussion and almost Jungle Book-style vocalisation. It's one of his first rhythm based songs & points to the future.
8. Bad Liver & A Broken Heart. Another high point, with the utterly desperate narrator's confusion spelt out over a beautiful piano melody ( with snippets of "As Time Goes By" to enhance the track.
9. The One That Got Away. A bluesier number pointing toward Blue Valentine, with Waits' merciless descriptions of urban crime and the selfishness of the people caught up in this.
10. Small Change. Only a lone wailing sax and Tom's sing-speak voice drive another lyrical song. Listen to the tale and be anything but bored.
11. I Can't Wait To Get Off Work. A more humorous and upbeat piano-led number again. A sweetening closer after the drama of the 2 previous, darker numbers.