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Japanese-only SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) paper sleeve pressing of this 1983 album. SHM-CDs can be played on any audio player and delivers unbelievably high-quality sound. You won't believe it's the same CD! Universal. 2008.
The first album of the loose trilogy that also includes Rain Dogs and Franks Wild Years, Swordfishtrombones marked a radical departure for Waits, whose avant-garde ambitions became plain not so much in his lyrics or subject matter--the songs here deal, as do his older albums, with hard life on the wrong side of the tracks and dreams of escape and transcendence--but in the music, a sound somewhere between German cabaret music from between the wars and contemporary Manhattan rush hour. Odd time signatures, unusual instrumentation (glass harmonicas and brake drums, among others), and Waits's barked vocals make this one of his most individualistic and challenging albums. --Daniel Durchholz
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Top Customer Reviews
Consequently, he re-invented himself in 1983 with Swordfishtrombones. Choosing to jettison his record label and produce the new album himself, he also left behind the combination of strings and piano that had backed so many of his previous songs, replacing them with scratchy electric guitars (often plucked), bizarre organs, glass harmonicas, and most of all, a huge variety of drums. The result is a CD full of arresting soundscapes in which his voice, always distinctive, becomes an instrument in its own right.
The lyrics are different also. Though he is still most certainly singing about life's unfortunates, the typical references to hookers, bars, and closing time are replaced with mystifying, often nightmareish story-lyrics in which the listener more often gets the gist, rather than the details, of the circumstances described. Though "Frank's Wild Years" is a spoken song and might at first seem similar to the spoken-word masterpieces of, say, Nighthawks at the Diner, this song is not about your typical drunkard but rather a psychopath who, unable to stand his suburban existance, burns down his house and drives away laughing.Read more ›
is jarring, discordant, grainy and addicting. There is more than a hint of Kurt Weill to the whole album, and the ensuing mixture strikes a chord that sets my own soul buzzing with sympathetic vibrations. I think you have to have a dark and twisted streak to appreciate this album. You have to know the taste of too many cigarettes, the pounding of Scotch induced hangovers, and the scent of cheap perfume on a cold, empty pillow. I love it..................
He sings on the boisterous Down Down Down with its jazzy texture and on atmospheric art songs like the lament Town With No Cheer, the short love song Johnsburg, Illinois and the moving Soldier's Things, tender moments that interrupt the rough pieces and jazz raps. Of the instrumentals, the gentle Rainbirds brings to mind Leonard Cohen's Tacoma Trailer on The Future. For those who prefer their Waits in more traditional style there's the magnificent ballad In The Neighborhood, reminiscent of his early 1970s masterpieces like Ole 55 and I Hope that I Don't Fall in Love with You.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Every time I get to in a stop in music ( When I think there is nothing left to discover except for overatted artists like Dylan), I find someone else. Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2004 by Anapanasati
For someone who prefers Waits' singing voice on those big tuneful ballads, this album is a bit of a shock. Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2004 by Peter Uys
This is the album that really marked Tom Waits' transformation from boozy bar crooner to inspired composer of twisted arrangements. Read morePublished on July 9 2003 by David Bonesteel
i may be a die-hard metalhead who gets his kicks out of bands like Bloodbath and Cryptopsy, but there is no way i can deny the genious of tom waits. Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2003
After spending the first decade of his career partially in the realm of normalcy, 1983's Swordfishtrombones, features think-throated singer/songwriter, Tom Waits, engineering a... Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2002 by P. Nicholas Keppler
Tom Waits output from the seventies was very good. His Beat influenced barfly personna playing a blues/jazz/Tin Pan Alley hybrid made him a unique artist. Read morePublished on Sept. 12 2002 by S. Finefrock
To say that the music of Tom Waits is an acquired taste is an understatement. His combination of spacey jazz, blues, spoken word poetry and down-and-out lyrics are combined with... Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2002 by Brian D. Rubendall
This is where the sonic carnival really started. It's true that Blue Valentine hints that something funny was in the air but on Swordfishtrombones, Waits really decided to take... Read morePublished on April 24 2002