Noted as Tom Waits’ most critically acclaimed album, Rain Dogs follows the new musical path Waits had taken with Swordfishtrombones. Considered the middle of a de facto trilogy with Swordfishtrombones and Franks Wild Years, Rain Dogs is the first of Waits’ albums to be written in New York, in a Lower Manhattan basement. A 53-minute, 19-track monster, Rain Dogs is a kind of mutant, late 20th-century musical “Canterbury Tales” with a shape-shifting band. There are banjos and marimbas and bowed saw and parade drum and howling horns (and Keith Richards and Marc Ribot) on this rollicking, rough-hewn opus—and Waits, using his voice in increasingly weird-and-wild ways. The songs are stories, sagas, laments, breakdowns, character studies, comedies and cabaret numbers. There’s the aching “Hang Down Your Head,” and the moving anthem, “Downtown Train,” which was covered by Patti Smith and Rod Stewart.
Waits coined the term, “rain dog,” a reference to dogs who lose their way when touchstone scents are washed away in storms. Among the lost dogs on the album: gruff, wandering merchant marines (“Singapore”), an accordion player in a slaughterhouse (“Cemetery Polka”), a “jockey full of bourbon” (also the song title), an abandoned, withdrawn woman (“Time”), a “gun street girl,” the old drunks and hustlers of Union Square, and even Waits, himself: Aboard a shipwreck train / Give my umbrella to the Rain Dogs / For I am a Rain Dog, too. . .
Originally released in 1985 on Island Records, the album is newly remastered for the first time ever from the original ½” flat master tape and personally overseen by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. Mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering under the guidance of Waits’ longtime audio engineer, Karl Derfler. The album packaging has also been restored. Rain Dogs includes tracks such as “Downtown Train,” “Clap Hands” and “Jockey Full Of Bourbon.” Available on 180g black vinyl.