This is an absolute peach of a recording: Tom’s on top form, and the audience are clearly diggin’ on him big time. This was actually released at one point under the title Dime Store Novels (I got a copy from Amazon, but as it wasn't an official release it got stepped on pretty quickly), but I’m putting up a version I got from the archive of the very generous GG, which has a great little intro not included on the Dime Store CD.
In term of Waits’ delivery, nearly all the songs here are performed fairly close to the officially recorded versions, except that Tom’s performing solo ('Foggy Night' is less relaxed rhythmically, sounding somewhat clipped here). As well as Tom’s inimitable spiel, there’s a song you won’t find elsewhere in his catalogue (least-wise I haven’t heard it elsewhere): the Utah Phillips country tune ’Good Night Loving Trail’, which is excellent in itself, and also benefits from a nice intro: “ah, hush up now I’m trying to sing this damn thang now… I ain’t opening the show tonight!” Some of Herbie Cohen’s gigs for Tom had been hardcore ‘baptism under fire’ scenarios!
Tom sounds quite soused at times, tho’ whether this is stage-sottedness or genuine alcohol oblivion isn’t clear, as he sings and plays very well. This really is good enough to be enjoyed as a solo performance counterpoint to the fabulous Nighthawks at the Diner. All in all, a very relaxed night in with Tom, and highly recommended.
"Operator number please..."
Tracklisting: I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You / San Diego Serenade / Good Night Loving Trail / Diamonds On My Windshield / Ice Cream Man / Please Call Me, Baby / Better Off Without A Wife / The Ghost Of Saturday Night / Big Joe & Phantom 309 / Semi Suite / Ol' 55 / On A Foggy Night / Martha