1973 Elektra Entertainment
Closing Time is the debut album for the highly influential master of the dirty blues Tom Waits. Like most debut albums, however, Waits hasn’t really yet found his sound (or sounds if we think about his extensive discography). He hasn’t developed his distinctive Howlin’ Wolf growl, or his abrasive raw blues sound, or his world worn, street –roaming character, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
We can hear the beginnings of the artist to come in his boozy, heartbroken delivery and his drunkenly roaming piano (Ice Cream Man in particular is a good nod to the later stuff), but somehow it hasn’t really come together yet. There are some stand out songs on the album (Ol’ 55, Grapefruit Moon, Martha), but overall the album can get a bit dull.
It also begins off somewhat confusingly with two straight up folk tunes jumping into an urban blues piece, then back into folk, then right into a slow, jazzy dirge. This gets cleaned up on the second side, but it’s all a bit disconcerting to begin with.
One thing I must say is that the folk songs on this album really are out and out folk, something that he doesn’t really continue with, but which is really nice to hear. Songs like I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You and Rosie are great fun to listen to and refreshingly different from the wailing piano laments.
All in all this is a very good album. It has some problems, but it’s good. You can put it on for a romantic dinner, or just to sit and drink scotch and smoke (probably not the best idea this second one) and it will provide some lovely background music, but when it’s the foreground of your evening it doesn’t quite cut it.
While it doesn’t get the highest rating going, this album is really a must for more than casual fans of Tom Waits. It is a good debut album, and really sets the path on which the man was about to stagger down, but be warned it might not really be what you expect.
One of the stand-out tracks from Tom Waits’ debut album ‘Closing Time’.