Tom Waits Hoot

Texas Platters

Tom Waits Hoot

(SlyEyes) The first rule of a Tom Waits song: Don't try to sing like you're drunk. You can be drunk and sing his songs, but that's different. Never fake it. The Tom Waits Hoot album recorded at the Hole in the Wall was in serious danger of being a for-the-fans-only recording, even if the profits benefit the lamented club. Flubs abound, as tracks are misordered ("Hang on St. Christopher" by the End of the West is the second track; "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" by Darktown Rounders is third), and even miscredited ("Ol' 55" is by the Voluptuous Horror of Rommelfanger, not My Education). Yet neither of those things diminish the disc's bottle-waving charm, which captures the Hole at its rollicking best -- live, supercharged, and occasionally off-key. Its shining moments are notable: "She's Such a Scream" by Chris Black & the Holy Ghost nails Waits' metal-spoon-and-bar-glass instrumentation as if ol' Gravel Throat had arranged it himself, as does Pearly Gates' on "9th and Hennepin." And Milton Mapes gets two shots at the man: "Hold On" and the wonderfully perverse "Little Drop of Poison." A few surprises are in store, as the Hole's Debbie Rombach fronts the Sleepwalkers for an uneven but appealing "Fumblin' With the Blues." Although the Damnations' "Gun Street Girl" is so lazy as to be sloppy, their equally loose "That Feel" is the album's perfect finale, a performance as alluring as a stranger's touch in a dark bar, lingering a bit too long to be accidental but not long enough to be improper. It's also a fitting send-off to the much-loved venue, one more place to say, "I remember when ...".

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