Big Time by Tom WaitsThomas Alan Waits is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by one critic as sounding like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months and then taken outside and run over with a car. With this trademark growl, his incorporation of pre-rock styles such as blues, jazz, and Vaudeville, and experimental tendencies verging on industrial music, Waits has built up a distinctive musical persona. Waits has also worked as a composer for movies and musical plays and as a supporting actor in films, including The Fisher King, Bram Stokers Dracula, and Short Cuts. He has been nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart.
Lyrically, Waits songs are known for atmospheric portrayals of bizarre, seedy characters and places, although he has also shown a penchant for more conventional ballads. He has a cult following and has influenced subsequent songwriters, despite having little radio or music video support. His songs are best known to the general public in the form of cover versions by more visible artists — for example Jersey Girl performed by Bruce Springsteen, Downtown Train performed by Rod Stewart, and Ol 55 performed by the Eagles. Although Waits albums have met with mixed commercial success in his native United States, they have occasionally achieved gold album sales status in other countries. He has been nominated for a number of major music awards, and has won Grammy Awards for two albums, Bone Machine and Mule Variations.
Big Time, 1988
Big Time is the first conventional live album by American musician Tom Waits , featuring performances from two shows on Waits' tour. The album was released less than a year later on Island Records. While Big Time was the first released recording of public concert performances by Waits, it was not strictly his first live release: his Nighthawks at the Diner was a live performance before an audience that was conducted entirely within a recording studio. The tour incorporated a theatrical aspect, as Franks Wild Years was recorded based on a play written by Waits himself about his then-alter-ego, Frank O'Brien. Waits described his alter ego, who was debuted on Swordfishtrombones as:.
Big Time is an track live album running nearly 68 minutes, its material drawn mostly from Tom Waits ' trio of recent studio albums, Swordfishtrombones , Rain Dogs , and Franks Wild Years. One track, "Falling Down," is a previously unissued studio recording. The performance of "Strange Weather" marks Waits ' first recording of a song he and his wife, Kathleen Brennan , wrote for Marianne Faithfull. It's challenging music, made somewhat more accessible in a live context. Waits ' performances tended to be somewhat over the top on the studio versions of these songs, but before a live audience his theatrics seem more appropriate, and he even includes a mini-set of piano ballads.
In it are words like boozy, gravelly, gruff, strange, and carnivalesque. Big Time was released as both an album and a film; an unusual piece of musical theatre made mostly from live concert footage. The closest Frank ever gets to fame, Big Time suggests, is a job selling tickets and popcorn in a movie theatre. When he dozes off, he dreams of taking the stage. None of this is particularly explicit, mind you.