ALBUM REVIEW: Rain Dogs (Tom Waits), Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

26 Jul

  Rain Dogs
  Sprawling experimental album from growling

1984 saw Tom Waits shifting away from the piano-ballad sound of his ‘70s output and in Rain Dogs, Waits’ thorny voice grew between the melodies to create his own twisted version of previously unexplored genres – “Anywhere I Lay My Head” is a compelling contrast of distorted gospel sounds whereas “Blind Love” sounds like country music soaked in gin. While Rain Dogs was an escape from the traditional, “Downtown Train” seems like a disappointing departure to earlier conventional tones but didn’t prevent Waits painting his own startling view of the melancholy and shadowy New York inhabitants – perhaps strongest emphasized in the impassioned spoken word piece “9th and Hennepin”.

  Maggot Brain
  Psychedelic guitar based rock from the innovators of funk.

Unlike anything heard before at the time, Maggot Brain effortlessly combines psychedelic rock, R&B and electronic music, building over tight guitar based funk. George Clinton, undoubtedly the mastermind of the band, uses the album as a showcase for the wide and varying range of influences with a nod to everyone from Cream to Jimi Hendrix. While the songs switch easily from a convincingly bizarre mix of special effects (“Wars of Armageddon”) to a more traditional acoustic guitar song (“Can You Get To That”), the real highlight is Eddie Hazel’s extended ten-minute guitar solo on the title track – a wide-reaching and intense climax of sound.


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