Swordfishtrombones was a terrific album, but Waits tops it, seemingly effortlessly, with its sequel Rain Dogs. Rain Dogs inhabits the same Captain Beefheart inspired musical space, with the unusual instrumentation like marimbas and accordions, although there’s a more extensive cast of backing musicians, notably with Marc Ribot and Keith Richards contributing as guitarists. Lyrically Rain Dogs constructs a unique world of social outcasts; “the captain is a one-armed dwarf” is the second line of the album.”
There’s an embarrassment of riches among the nineteen tracks of Rain Dogs; there are simple acoustic-based pieces like ‘Time’, ‘Hang Down Your Head’, and ‘Downtown Train’, which would have fit onto Waits’ 1970s’ albums, and the latter of which became a hit for Rod Stewart. There are demented singalongs like ‘Singapore’ and the title track, and rough blues rockers like ‘Big Black Mariah’, and Rain Dogs it’s essentially a nineteen song album with no weak tracks.
Rain Dogs is the crowning achievement of Waits’ discography, and one of the finest albums of the 1980s.