1978 saw the release of the Tom Waits album Blue Valentine. Wrapped in a sleeve containing scenes at a late night filling station, the cover depicts a downcast Tom, whilst elsewhere he’s cavorting with Rickie Lee Jones. One image also sees Chuck E Weiss of Jones’ own tune ‘Chuck E’s in Love‘.
The album contains some prime Tom Waits material and sees him moving further away from the bar-room drawl of ‘Closing Time‘ and ‘Heart of Saturday Night‘ to that famous 2am growl.
Opening with a brilliant take on ‘Somewhere‘ from West Side Story, the lavish orchestration provides the perfect backdrop for Tom’s optimistic yet broken vocal.
The album moves though the jazzy tinged blues tracks like ‘Romeo is Bleeding‘, ‘A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun‘ and ‘Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard‘. The album contains the sublime ‘Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis‘, someone stole my record player, well how do you like that?
It also contains my favourite Tom Waits song, ‘Kentucky Avenue‘. First heard as a teen on a crappy mono tape player, initially thinking some of the words were some kind of joke, a few years later, and after properly reading the lyrics (pre-internet here, kids) it broke my heart.