Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tom Waits - Never Talk To Strangers

I just came across this bootleg on You Tube and would certainly like to get a hard copy if it exists, as
I love this period of Tom Waits. This was recorded on BBC in July of 1979, with him performing tunes up through Heart Attack and Vine.

As is usual with Waits, he starts on the piano with a several minute monologue before segueing into a solo version of the title track, originally done as a duet with Bette Midler on the Foreign Affairs album. Interesting to hear him have the conversation with himself. The fun, energetic and swingin' "Step Right Up" (Small Change) follows (pretty exceptional version with the full band) and then the quiet piano ballad, "On the Nickel" (Heart Attack and Vine). Closing side one of the vinyl bootleg is the terrific film noir song "Red Shoes by the Drugstore" (Blue Valentine), done pretty damn close to the studio take, but with enough differences to make it kinda amazing. BV is probably my all time fave Waits album, so I really love this one.

Side two slides in with the cool jazz/blues sax'n'guitar workout "Burma Shave" (Foreign Affairs), again keeping the feel of the original but throwing in hep, new licks and Tom rappin'n'riffin' on the concept (and a nice hat-tip to "Summertime", as well). Blue Valentine's "Kentucky Avenue" is another sweet piano serenade with a bit of an autobiographical added intro (always joking, he uses the old line "I was born very young") before moving into this sad and lovely number. Another incredible noir-story-song is "Small Change" (from the album of the same name, of course), mostly a duet between Waits and the sax, with some light piano accompaniment - superb horn blowin' here. Appropriately, "Closing Time" (title track of his debut) ends the record with a fade-out.

As I've said, this is my fave period of Waits' ever-changing career, so of course I'm gonna dig this one, but this is a pretty special boot - and the sound is high-quality, as well. Now to search it out!