I could pick any track off of Rain Dogs. It is one of my absolute favourite records of all history and time ever. It’s brilliantly bonkers from beginning to end. It paints it’s scenes so vividly you don’t just feel like you’ve seen the movies it soundtracks, you feel like you’ve been to the places and lived through the things it describes. Which is even more amazing when you think about just how other worldly and strange the subjects of Rain Dogs are.
I’ll start at the beginning. Singapore is the albums opening track. Bottles glug, barrels thunk and strings plink as the rhythm finds it’s sea legs. ‘We sail tonight for Singapore, we’re all as mad as hatters here’ rasps Tom. You feel as if you’ve been pressganged onto a ship captained by Terry Gilliam and Hellboy here is first mate. He’s drunk, mad, lost and he’s ‘Fallen for a tawny moor’ so we take off for the land of Nod.
‘Drank with all the Chinamen, Walked the sewers of Paris, I danced along a coloured wind, Dangled from a rope of sand, You must say goodbye to me’ Plink Plonk Plunk. It’s disorientating. Your head spins as the band, the mood goes along with the lunacy being spoken at you, before you, around you (in spite of you).
Now you’re really away (boys) the advice comes thick and fast. ‘Don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore’, ‘Cross your heart and hope to die, when you hear the children cry’, ‘Let marrow bone and cleaver choose, while making feet for children’s shoes’ and most worryingly of all ‘You must say goodbye to me’. He’s a frikkin’ loon but this Captain Jack of a narrator is going to leave you among this madness on your own.
Thunks and guttural empty bottle percussions carry the tune as you head further from the civilised world. ‘From now on Boys this Iron boat’s your home’.
Everything is unbelievable now ‘Eye witnesses turn to steam, they all become Italian dreams’ and ‘the whole town’s made of iron ore’. Here you are. You’re in the centre of the chaos.
Captain’s orders become more bizarre. ‘Fill your pockets up with Earth, get yourself a dollars worth’ This is how they get you. By the time you’re back at the port the boat looks like the best place in a storm. ‘So heave away boys, heave away’.
This particular Sea of madness will dock at Clap Hands next then visit Uncle Vernon, A Jockey Full Of Bourbon and The Big Black Mariah. By the time Tom steers you to Anywhere I Lay My Head you’re a journeyman. Rain Dogs is an odyssey.
In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.