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Nighthawks on the Radio
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  • In 1976, Tom Waits was promoting his fourth album, Small Change, when he popped into a New York recording studio with WNEW-FM radio host Vin Scelsa to do an interview and play a few songs. Waits was in a rare mood and delivered an intimate hourlong performance, in which he offered stripped-down but passionate versions of 11 of his songs, accompanied only by Ralph Elber on drums, as Waits added off-the-cuff lyrics on several songs and spun tall tales during the breaks. The performance became something of a collector's item among Waits fans lucky enough to record the radio broadcast of the session, and now the show has been released in full on the album Nighthawks on the Radio: Live. A fascinating document of Waits' early beatnik-influenced period, Nighthawks on the Radio is a spare but compelling performance that also finds him discussing his creative process and delivering plenty of his characteristic dry humor. ~ Mark Deming
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