SMALL CHANGE - Tom Waits
TRACK LISTING: Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen), Step Right Up, Jitterbug Boy, I Wish I Was in New Orleans (In the Ninth Ward), The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me), Invitation to the Blues, Pasties and a G-String (At the Two O'Clock Club), Bad Liver and a Broken Heart (In Lowell), The One That Got Away, Small Change (Got Rained On With His Own .38), I Can't Wait To Get Off Work (And See My Baby On Montgomery Avenue)
IMPRESSIONS: Life on the road was taking its heavy toll and Tom Waits was drinking heavily during this time period and that sure comes through on this album. In his own words, Waits "...tried to resolve a few things as far as this cocktail-lounge, maudlin, crying-in-your-beer image that I have. There ain't nothin' funny about a drunk [...] I was really starting to believe that there was something amusing and wonderfully American about being a drunk. I ended up telling myself to cut that shit out." This is an album which goes a long way toward cementing Waits' image as a sad sack drunken piano player in a cigarette-smoke-filled dive with a voice that sounds like Louis Armstrong and subject matter that sounds like Raymond Chandler. However, no matter how sick Waits was at the time owing to his alcoholism, he still manages to inject quite a lot of humour in the proceedings preventing the album from being a total downer. The classic hilarity of "The Piano Has Been Drinking" and the deft wordplay of "Step Right Up" are prime examples. The sound is pure skid row with piano, stand-up bass, saxophone and drums accompanying Waits' patented "unreliable narrator"; there is also an occasional appearance by strings which anacronistically counterpoint with Waits' growl.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen), Step Right Up, Jitterbug Boy, I Wish I Was In New Orleans (In the Ninth Ward), The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me), Invitation to the Blues, The One That Got Away, Small Change (Got Rained On With His Own .38), I Can't Wait To Get Off Work (And See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue)
FACT SHEET: SMALL CHANGE is Tom Waits' fourth album. It was surprisingly successful making it to #89 on the Billboard Top 100: the highest ranking until 1999's "MULE VARIATIONS". The superb cover photo features Waits in the dressing room of a topless go-go dancer thought to be professional showgirl Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) but I'm practically certain it ain't her. It looks nothing like her and she would've had bright red hair so it's most certainly another of those bogus internet rumours. "Tom Traubert's Blues" utilizes "Waltzing Matilda" although it slightly changes the melody; Waits has said that Tom Traubert was "a friend of a friend" who died in prison.