For his third album, Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits set up a nightclub in the studio, invited an audience, and cut a 70-minute, two-LP set of new songs. It's an appropriate format for compositions that deal even more graphically and, for the first time, humorously with Waits' late-night world of bars and diners. The love lyrics of his debut album had long since given way to a comic lonely-guy stance glimpsed in "Emotional Weather Report" and "Better Off Without a Wife." But what really matters is the elaborate scene-setting of songs like the six-and-a-half-minute "Spare Parts," the seven-and-a-half-minute "Putnam County," and especially the 11-and-a-half-minute "Nighthawk Postcards" that are essentially poetry recitations with jazz backing. Waits is a colorful tour guide of midnight L.A., raving over a swinging rhythm section of Jim Hughart (bass) and Bill Goodwin (drums), with Pete Christlieb wailing away on tenor sax between paragraphs and Mike Melvoin trading off with Waits on piano runs. You could call it overdone, but then, this kind of material made its impact through an accumulation of miscellaneous detail, and who's to say how much is too much?
In the 1970s, Tom Waits combined a lyrical focus on desperate, low-life characters with a persona that seemed to embody the same lifestyle, which he sang about in a raspy, gravelly voice.
Originally released in 1983, this album was recorded in between the 2 Toto albums "IV" and "Isolation", and includes most of the Toto band members, plus almost all the best studioperformers of L.A. at the time (Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg a.m.o). The songs are well written and powerfully recorded. The 2 best known songs are the title track "Taking A Cold Look" and "Alone". The last one was also released some years later by the band Heart, but I personally like this original version better. If you like the mid-80's AOR/Westcoast sound, this album is a MUST, and the sooner you buy it, the better - for you!
Mark Lewis, works as a focus puller in a British film studio. On his off hours, he supplies a local porno shop with cheesecake photos and also dabbles in filmmaking. A lonely, unfriendly, sexually repressed fellow, Mark is obsessed with the effects of fear and how they are registered on the face and behavior of the frightened. This obsession dates from the time when, as a child, he served as the subject of some cold-blooded experiments in the psychology of terror conducted by his own scientist father. As a grown man, Mark becomes a compulsive murderer who kills women and records their contorted features and dying gasps on film. His ongoing project is a documentary on fear.