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

26 Jul

  TOM WAITS
  Rain Dogs
ISLAND
  Sprawling experimental album from growling
singer-songwriter

  ****
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”.


  FUNKADELIC
  Maggot Brain
  WESTBOUND
  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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