“The Heart Of Saturday Night” by Tom Waits - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1974Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Second album from the 24-year-old piano-playing singer-songwriter, now with added singspeak skills on display, namely on the two best tracks; suffice to say, this development greatly improves his appeal to me. In his liner notes, he lists Jack Kerouac, Randy Newman and Frank Sinatra as being amongst his influences. The front-cover artwork evokes Sinatra's famous “In the Wee Small Hours”, albeit 5 or 6 hours earlier! The big majority of the songs are played in a laid-back jazz style, and the vocals complement, veering between a languid drawl and an expressive croon. The album's central theme comes directly from Kerouac's “Visions of Cody” (published '72), in which the protagonist is “hurrying for the big traffic - ever more exciting, all of it pouring into town - Saturday night.”

First half highlight “Diamonds On My Windshield” is delivered beatnik-rhythm-speak-style over a fast-paced walking bass. Tom used to regularly make the journey from San Diego to Los Angeles in his first car “usually with several pit stops on the way with engine trouble, no wipers”. Who knew driving in the rain with no wipers could inspire such poetry? The title-track is placed at the heart of the album, whilst the fag end of the night is brilliantly represented near the close in “The Ghosts Of Saturday Night (After Hours At Napoleone’s Pizza House)”. It seems our man hasn't pulled: “as he dreams of a waitress with Maxwell House eyes, marmalade thighs with scrambled yellow hair, her rhinestone-studded moniker says 'Irene', as she wipes the wisps of dishwater blonde from her eyes”. We've all been there. His skills as a wordsmith are all over this album, most definitely a plus point. More in the beat poet style would see his ratings rocket with me. Meantime, this LP represents a clear step-forward.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:23] 4.6.png Tom Waits - New Coat Of Paint (Tom Waits) Jazz
A2 [03:30] 4.8.png Tom Waits - San Diego Serenade (Tom Waits) Songwriter
A3 [03:29] 4.0.png Tom Waits - Semi Suite (Tom Waits) Jazz
A4 [04:26] 5.2.png Tom Waits - Shiver Me Timbers (Tom Waits) Songwriter
A5 [03:12] 6.8.png Tom Waits - Diamonds On My Windshield (Tom Waits) Jazz
A6 [03:53] 5.7.png Tom Waits - (Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night (Tom Waits) Jazz
B1 [03:02] 5.0.png Tom Waits - Fumblin’ With The Blues (Tom Waits) Jazz
B2 [04:25] 4.9.png Tom Waits - Please Call Me, Baby (Tom Waits) Jazz
B3 [03:46] 4.8.png Tom Waits - Depot, Depot (Tom Waits) Jazz
B4 [05:06] 4.3.png Tom Waits - Drunk On The Moon (Tom Waits) Jazz
B5 [03:16] 7.4.png Tom Waits - The Ghosts Of Saturday Night (After Hours At Napoleone’s Pizza House) (Tom Waits) Jazz

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