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Swordfishtrombones CD


Price: £6.58 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Biography

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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Frequently Bought Together

Swordfishtrombones + Rain Dogs + Franks Wild Years
Price For All Three: £19.92

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Product details

  • Audio CD (24 May 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Virgin EMI
  • ASIN: B000001FTJ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,069 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Underground 1:59£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Shore Leave 4:17£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Dave The Butcher 2:20£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Johnsburg, Illinois 1:33£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. 16 Shells From A 30.6 4:33£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Town With No Cheer 4:28£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. In The Neighbourhood 3:07£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Just Another Sucker On The Vine 1:46£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Frank's Wild Years 1:52£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Swordfishtrombone 3:08£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Down, Down, Down 2:16£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Soldier's Things 3:23£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Gin Soaked Boy 2:24£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Trouble's Braids 1:18£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Rainbirds 3:14£0.79  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

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

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Palmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 May 2005
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 By King Zevon on 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 By A Customer on 16 April 2002
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 By A Customer on 26 Sept. 2003
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 By catbadger@hotmail.com on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Reynolds on 18 Dec. 2003
Format: Audio CD
The first Tom Waits album I ever heard, and one that hooked and reeled me in like a fish, and I'm still to fully work out why.
This album is a perfect showcase for the curious music of Tom. He *can't* sing, yet why does his voice move me in ways Whitney/Celine/Mariah never could? His tunes are far from complicated or original, yet why do they feel so fresh? He sings of worlds and characters so far from my own experiences - deadbeats, maniacs, war veterans - yet why do I feel so included in his storytelling?
He makes fully use of all his 'personas', Growly-shouty Tom, Whispery-Tom, Poetic Beatnik Tom, Croony Romantic Tom - but their no longer constrained by the barriers of Genre. Instead we have a mish-mash of styles, and 'quirky' (I hate that word) arrangements.
With hindsight it works in a similar way to 'The Dreaming' (Kate Bush) or '99.9F' (Suzanne Vega) as a bridge between the early and more tradiational career, and the latter more stlyistic career. It simply takes all the ellements that made his music work; unmistakeable voice, simple but affecting tunes, warm but realistic lyrics, deadbeat but loveable characters etc. but steps it up a gear, and lays it over a new and slightly less accessible canvas.
If I were to introduce anyone (and I have) to latter day Tom Waits, I would still use this Album, depsite it being 20 years old now!
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