Picks and Pans Review: Heart Attack and Vine
updated 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
Intermittently, Tom Waits belches up a dispatch from his down-and-out life. On the jacket of this latest report the 31-year-old Californian wears a grimy tuxedo. Locks of frowsy brown hair hang over a face that looks as if it spent the evening dancing cheek to cheek with a hamburger grill. Waits bobs and weaves through eight song-raps (and one instrumental, In Shades). His lyrics mine familiar subjects: whores, drunks, lowlifes, God, thieves and street urchins. His poetry, as usual, outclasses his singing ("Boney's high on china white/Shorty found a punk/Don't you know there ain't no devil/There's just God when He's drunk"). The exception is Jersey Girl, which is more than listenable. But most of his bluesy, boozy, not-so-choosy tunes are best enjoyed in small doses.