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-   -   Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis; A Tom Waits review (https://www.musicbanter.com/album-reviews/48959-christmas-card-hooker-minneapolis-tom-waits-review.html)

TheBig3 05-05-2010 08:36 PM

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...urdayNight.jpg

Released October 1974
Recorded 1974
Wally Heider Studios,
(Hollywood, California)
Genre Folk, jazz, blues
Length 40:54
Label Asylum
Producer Bones Howe

The Heart of Saturday Night is, for all factual purposes, Tom Waits second album. This, and the informational pieces listed below the albums image above, are the only things anyone can really agree upon. Beyond these facts, the path of opinion will only lead you down the rabbit hole.

Saturday Night represents many many things in the world of Tom Waits. Its the first step toward a whiskey-soaked career, a move away from a James Taylor-clone; its the first glimmering sparks of the carnival jabberwocky that was a decade off. It a full on Jazz album, a well painted portrait of the happier side of the city life's scummy underbelly - a bastard love child of Coltrane and Sinatra. It also has the somewhat dubious honor of being his most well ranked album on one of America's most smoke-blowing rags: Rolling Stone.

Heart of Saturday Night starts off with "New Coat of Paint," a a rollicking, roiling pickup line that sounds like the 50's greasers at 30. People with little to lose, dressing up to paint the night red. They've given up on preconceived notions of how it ought to be, they threw caution to the wind and whiskey at their problems.

Its impossible to set a musical tone for an album as slippery as Heart of Saturday Night, but it does set a narrative theme. And while its often I.D.ed as a Jazz album, there are some of those early-tracked Folk themes still lurking here, but its clear from one listen through that those Taylor-esque songs are on the way out as their Jazz counterparts are not only the memorable ones here, but heavyweight classics that sit atop the Waits canon. Even San Diego Serenade, which is supposedly the best of folky-filler tracks, may as well have been on Closing Time, and is ultimately forgettable.

"Diamonds on my Windshield" is barely sung, beat-jazz with some high-hat and a walking baseline about roving the interstate highways that, while still jazz certainly, is nothing like the Big-band inspired "Paint" or "Drunk on the Moon," and both are nothing like "Fumblin' with the Blues" (both monster songs).

And while the album can seem like a dichotomy, Waits manages to marry both styles while progressing his lyrics beyond drunken caricatures and mass produced lonely love songs on the albums title track (and even better on "Ghosts of Saturday Night"). Unfortunately, his musical prowess was well ahead of his literary powers and the Jazz arrangements on this album are cake-taking, show stoppers.

There are certainly filler tracks on this album, and if you thought his best work came out in a post-1985 world, this may not be for you, or at least not what you're expecting. But for anyone who likes music, Saturday Night is a monster and if its not in your Top 5 Wait's albums I think you're lying to yourself, or to me. Either way, you're an idiot.

Must Hear:
1. Fumblin' with the Blues
2. New Coat of Paint
3. Drunk on the Moon
4. Diamonds on my Windshield
5. The Ghosts of Saturday Night

Alfred 05-05-2010 09:25 PM

I love San Diego Serenade, personally. I wouldn't call it filler at all.

Bulldog 05-06-2010 03:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheBig3KilledMyRainDog (Post 863247)
a well painted portrait of the happier side of the city life's scummy underbelly - a bastard love child of Coltrane and Sinatra.

Great way to nail what the album basically is that, and pretty much how I think of it too.

I see what you mean about San Diego Serenade too - I still think it's a neat little song, but it is a bit of a space-filler. Even the lyrics (from what I remember) just basically juggle the same idea in each line, each time using a different, clever-clever kinda wordplay; something that just doesn't really appeal to me.

Good picks for the highlight tracks too (although I'd have made room for Shiver Me Timbers and Please Call Me Baby myself - the melodies in those just get me every time). Anyway, very good review sir - looking forward to seeing whichever one you've got up your sleeve next.

TheBig3 05-06-2010 07:28 AM

Well suicide asked for "Heart Attack and Vine" so I suppose I'll do that one. I have no reason to go in any sort of order. I like the two songs you listed, but I'm limited to 5 and at least I didn't disparidge them in the review, no? As for "Serenade" let me say this...

Quote:

I never saw the morning till I stayed up all night
I never saw the sunshine till you turned out the light
I never saw my home town until I stayed away too long
I never heard the melody until I needed the song

I never saw the white line till I was leavin' you behind
I never knew I needed you until I was caught up in a bind
And I never spoke I love you till I cursed you in vain
I never felt my heart strings until I nearly went insane
If, if, IF the music was compelling I'd give it a pass...but anyone who's heard it knows it could have backed Luther Vandross and it wouldn't have been out of place. I should point out that for too many of us here, and its only getting worse, we're hearing Waits backwards. If you want what Waits does, you don't look for this stuff.

At the time it may have been a fine song, the 70's were something of a melting pot for music and I often get lost wondering how the sounds coming out from that decade ever got popular. But in 2010, Serenade shows its age, and its more automobile than wine.

Bulldog 05-07-2010 09:36 AM

Ah, Heart Attack and Vine eh. I've just looked and seen that it's one of the handful of Waits albums I don't yet have. I went through a little phase a month or two back where I decided to get every one of his albums I could, but ended up getting distracted and forgetting about it. Pretty sure the aforementioned was the next album of his I had on my to-do list, so I shall await the review with baited breath :D

And, yeah, totally agree that Serenade sounds a little dated these days. Not quite as drastically as a number of songs I can think of, but it definitely doesn't sound like it could've been recorded last Thursday or whatever. I do remember listening to Saturday Night for the first time, loving how it kicked itself into life with New Coat Of Paint and got a little turned off by what came next. As I say, I grew to appreciate it more with repeated listening, but it just didn't grab me at the first go like most of the rest of the album.

TheBig3 05-07-2010 10:24 AM

Heartattack & Vine is one of 4 albums that aren't really on many fans radar. With it are Foreign Affair, Black Rider, and Frank's Wild Years. They each have their reasons, but I'm a "response whore" and I'm going where the money is.

I wouldn't rush out and buy it if you don't hae everything else, but we'll see. I have a packed weekend so I likely won't get to the review until next week, but we'll see.

Bulldog 05-07-2010 11:04 AM

Yeah, I know that feeling. I've promised 3 or 4 reviews to varying threads around the boards and still haven't got round to doing any of them for some reason or other.

Foreign Affairs I have, and I remember thinking it was pretty decent (despite the rather lame I Never Talk To Strangers). I loved a Sight For Sore Eyes, but other than that I doubt it's an album I'll be listening to again anytime soon - it's a bit like Closing Time in that respect.

loveissucide 05-07-2010 11:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheBig3KilledMyRainDog (Post 863886)
Heartattack & Vine is one of 4 albums that aren't really on many fans radar. With it are Foreign Affair, Black Rider, and Frank's Wild Years. They each have their reasons, but I'm a "response whore" and I'm going where the money is.

I wouldn't rush out and buy it if you don't hae everything else, but we'll see. I have a packed weekend so I likely won't get to the review until next week, but we'll see.

It was always my personal favourite of them, and a key album in his creative evolution to the Swordfishtrombones era.

Unrelenting 06-10-2010 07:08 PM

Excited to see what you have to say about Blood Money.

21stCenturyAndroidMan 06-10-2010 09:59 PM

I wanna see Alice and Nighthawks at the diner


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