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Swordfishtrombones [CASSETTE] [Import]

Tom Waits Audio Cassette
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Tom Waits, according to the esteemed American critic Robert Hilburn, is "clearly one of the most important figures of the modern pop era". It's been just over 30 years since Tom Waits made his recording debut. In that time his music has taken adventurous twists and turns, from confessional country-blues and jazz-flavored lounge to primal rock and avant-garde musical ... Read more in Amazon's Tom Waits Store

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette (17 Oct 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B000001FTK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 669,500 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unparalleled beauty meets carnival burlesque 4 May 2005
By Sebastian Palmer TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
You may think everything's already been said about this album... you're wrong!

Tom's change of direction, marked by this release, has left me gradually less and less inclined to put the later albums on. It's like he feared becoming a caricature barfly, so instead became a caricatured carnival freak. His relationship with Kathleen Brennan undoubtedly has some bearing on this (more on this later).

On this pivotal release however, you get the best of both worlds. Most albums since (and including) SFT start with a rumbling uptempo oddball number (uptempo by Tom's standards as opposed to Slayer's): here it's 'Underground' (Frank's Wild Years starts with 'Hang On St Christopher', and Rain Dogs with 'Singapore', etc.). The fact this has become a bit of a formula is, perhaps, a little sad, but all three tunes referenced are utterly brilliant. So, not too sad!

Enough's been said elsewhere about the Beefheart and classical modernist influences. What I want to focus on is the remaining strain of simple romanticism (what Brennan calls his "Grand Weepers"). Brennan's appearance in Wait's life seems, from his interviews, to signal a complete change (of personal perspective/heart), redemption, and rescue even. Testament to this wonderful and simple enduring love continues to be evident in his work: 'Take It With Me' from Mule Variations being a wonderful example: "ain't no good thing ever dies". I cry every time I listen to that song.

'Johnsburg, Illinois' is, so I've read, written as a love song to Brennan, and, fittingly, it transcends the theatricaltiy of other material here with its straightforward and honest confession of love. I've always like this side of Tom most. And it's in the very fabric of his best music.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars never could stand that dog 26 Mar 2004
Format:Audio CD
I first heard this album in 1987 and it was the first Waits album I ever owned. On the first few listens, it was one of the strangest albums I'd ever heard, and the only immediate song was "In the Neighbourhood". However, after a bit of work from me, I grew to appreciate it, and moved on to "Raindogs" and "Franks Wild Years" when it came out. I also had the pleasure of seeing Waits at the Hammersmith Odeon in '87 and it was a great show. Hard to believe this was the last time he played in the UK - come back Tom! A great album, and essential to an understanding of the new direction he took after his more jazzy balladry of the 70's.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creative genius at his creative best. 16 April 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Tom Waits' earlier albums can be pinned down like wild dogs and just about forced into their specific genres. 'The Heart of Saturday Night', 'Heartattack and Vine' and to an extent 'Franks Wild Years' can be defined loosely as jazz. But quite where to start with 'Swordfistrombones' is a hefty challenge for the most ardent of listener. Each song tells it's story of life at it's quirkiest and the intertwined variety achieved is facinating, humourous and strangely addictive.
From the romantic wheeze of 'Johnsberg, Illonois', which was written for Waits'partener Kathleen Brennan, to the jolting pound of '16 Shells From ..' and 'Dave The Butcher' this is one of few contempory albums that really does have the lot, even bagpipes! 'Swordfishtrombones' is simular in diversity to 'Raindogs' but if the gun was at my head I'd favour the former.
For what it's worth my favorite track on the album is 'Just Another Sucker On The Vine', a instrumental lament which conjures a fresh image with every engagement.
Nineteen years on and this album has lost none of it's vigour or the raw uniqueness that typifies this most gifted of artists. Frank's 'little Sedan' may be rotting in the knackers yard but Waits is still wringing his strands of creativity in the questionable modern music scene. If your looking to explore Tom Waits then make 'Swordfishtrombones' your first endeavour.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a Hong Kong drizzle on cuban heels... 26 Sep 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
...i rolled down the gutter to the blood bank... Tom serves you amazing stories that are raw and tender, cruel and melodramatic, one eyed and sorely romantic - and everything else you can think of. Swordfishtrombones was my first Tom Waits album about twenty years ago, and led me into a whole new world of essential music. From this fantastic album you will want to go both backward and forward in Tom Waits' discography, and discover an artist that is always changing. Like he says: Watch me skate across an acre of linoleum, i know i can do it...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another burst of eccentric musical genius. 15 Oct 2000
Format:Audio CD
Like all of his works (except perhaps The Heart Of Saturday Night, which i've always thought of as pure jazz), this is a little hard to define, shuttling between instrumentals such as Dave The Butcher, and the wryly comic monologue of Franks Wild Years, and touching upon jazz, blues, and the frankly odd on its journey. However, musical explorations such as this are what Tom Waits excels at, and this album has bursts of eccentric musical genius which demand repeat listening. Wonderful (again).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom at his best... 16 Jun 2001
Format:Vinyl
.. Although it is difficult to define exactly when he isn't at his best. Swordfishtrombones is a wonderful record from Tom Waits. Jazzy, sad, angry, soothing and funny as hell. Very much like a great film or a theatre play that can take thousands of replays and still deliver something new every time. And this one is available in vinyl as well and everybody knows vinyl is the way forward. Buy it, you will love it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought for a friend
This was bought for a friend. I had never heard of this recording but he was very impressed. Thank you for delivering on time.
Published 3 months ago by MR J B BRISCOE
5.0 out of 5 stars one of his best
There's not much point in me trying to say something new in praise of this album. All I will say that it is one of his best.
Published 4 months ago by pauljoe
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most inspirational albums!
I adore this album, this is Waits at his best for me. His pulp, urban lyrics are a huge inspiration to me; full of sardonic wit, imagery of desperation, urban inequality, true grit... Read more
Published 23 months ago by J. D. Chadwick
5.0 out of 5 stars the first of waits' defining trilogy
tom waits has a long and illustrious career, covering many different styles. his quality control has always been excellent too. Read more
Published on 11 Oct 2011 by Biffer Spice
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, if erratic
This was the album on which TW finally broke with his "old soak at a piano / in the gutter" persona of the 70s. It contains some truly magnificent songs, e.g. Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by oldhasbeen
5.0 out of 5 stars The musicians musician
How do you describe this album ? ballads, country, blues, folk & rock ,tales from the wrong side of town . Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2011 by D. S. Sample
4.0 out of 5 stars Cuff links & hub caps, trophies & paperbacks
"A tinker, a tailor
A soldier`s things
His rifle, a boot full of rocks,
Oh and this one is for bravery
And this one is for me
And everything`s a... Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2011 by GlynLuke
4.0 out of 5 stars First Jungle-jazz album.
Tom Waits is one of the few artists who've simply (and only mostly) grown in talent from album to album. He started out making good records, but not particularly revolutionary. Read more
Published on 28 Mar 2011 by Troels Stampe Johansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Waites makes other singer/songwriters seem average!
This album is an old favorite of mine,and is the second copy i`ve purchased from Amazon(my lap-top crashed,and I didn`t have a saved copy). Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2010 by M
4.0 out of 5 stars Change over
I like Tom Waits but I don't like his seventies stuff on vinyl as I find it covered in horrible seventies singer-songwriter major label arrangements, Never did like that dog! Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2010 by A. E. Purcell
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