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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 22 April 2017
fast - good value, great!
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on 10 November 2007
The thing I like about Tom Waits is his songs are little movies. So it is impossible to hear Innocent When You Dream (a particularly good song on this album) without seeing barroom grotesques, squeezing tears from their faces as they howl out the tune. And of course the irony of a beautiful, delicate lyric being throttled by these Tom Waits reprobates is just perfect.

One other thing I like about Mr T is that he 'acts' his songs. Therefore no matter how heartfelt, angry or etc the song, there is always a bit of tongue in the cheek, a bit of burlesque, a little twinkle in the eye. Therefore none of the rock star posturing of his peers, because there's just a touch of silliness and absurdity to it all, no matter how genuinely heartfelt.

By the way, this is one of his finest records. When you first here it, it sounds so diverse it's like flicking channels when you're drunk in a hotel room someplace far away. Vegas, devil, german barroom, operetta, spaghetti western, the Muppets (fozzy bear missed his train).

Then you realise, after about the fourth listen, that life is indeed a vegas devil german barroom cast as an operatic spaghetti western and that fozzy really has missed his train.

Don't worry about buying an easy Mr T album first. Just get on that plane fool and fly.
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on 17 December 2009
This is one Tom Waits album I come back to time-and-time again, usually on a cold dark winter's night. It takes a long time to grow on you and I don't recommend it to those new to Tom Waits (stick with "Rain Dogs"). This is the kind of music I imagine the dwarf from Twin Peaks getting down to in the Black Lodge. It is like stumbling through the dark streets of an empty town or riding a creepy fairground ride. The songs roll into eachother really well and create a dark yet fun atmosphere. Several tracks have a strong Ennio Morricone influence to them as well (check the closing of "Blow Wind Blow" & the whole of "Yesterday is Here"). Check out some of Tom's live performances of these songs over on YouTube to get more of a flavour for them. This is one of those records you have to listen to from start to finish. Just what is needed in today's plastic pop world of X-Factor and Pop Idol.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2006
I have reviewed Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombones before on Amazon and find myself modelling this review very much on those; FWY is a very similar, if even more extreme extension of those two previous albums. It's arguably slightly less accessible to my ear than those two, but has not yet quite stumbled drunkenly off into even the more esoteric, jarring landscape of Bone Machine or The Black Rider.

As with all later Waits albums, I have learnt not to judge until I have listened to nothing else in my car CD player for at least a full week. It takes that long to really start to pick up on and get into the rhythms and theme of his albums, to get beyond what seems at first jumbled, distorted noises, interferance and background sounds and actually start to recognise the evocative and complex but strangely soothing and even charming music and poetry that awaits the listener. You basically need time to catch up to the genius of Tom.

Also as with previous albums, Frank's Wild Years comes across as a very specific soundtrack to an imaginery movie. Each track sets a scene so vividly, with odd dialogues, strange characters and incidental sounds that you could close your eyes and imagine you were listening to a movie rather than an album. In this case the general image I get of the movie is that it is set in Berlin, in a long abandoned art neuveau style theatre - all cobwebs and mouldering curtains. Then, one night every year at the stroke of midnight, a ghostly Weimar Kabarett is is performed on the rotting stage by a reanimated Marlene Dietrich to a ghostly audience of dinner jacketed ghouls from 20s Germany. I realise that that's a pretty fanciful and specific image to get from an album - but that's what Tom Waits does to you.
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on 20 August 2003
I bought "Frank's Wild Years" in 1985 when I was 16, because I'd heard Bruce Springsteens cover of 'Jersey Girl' and learned that it was written by Tom Waits. I had no idea what to expect. I distinctly remember bringing it home and putting it on the recordplayer when a friend of mine from school was around. When the needle hit the record and the first sounds came out, he burst out laughing and said 'too bad, huh?'. That's the way it is, all great things in life take time to get into: Whiskey, coffee, opera, I hated all of them the first time I tried them. Off course I kept playing "Frank's Wild Years", not quite understanding why, but it won me over. It won my friend over too and soon we realised that this was big, way bigger than one album. Then next album I bought was "Closing Time". When I put it on, I thought "what's this?" a completely different artist... after 3 plays the same thing happened. And the same thing happened with every new Tom Waits album, something different, difficult, something that you needed to listen to and decide whether it worked or not. It inevitably did. The sound, in time has become more distinct, more experimental and the lyrics has gone from traditional lovesongs with a twist, to compelling poetry where just a few words can spark images and emotions. Since that summer evening in a Copenhagen suburb, Tom Waits has played the soundtrack to the key moments in my life. When I think of the times of the greatest happines, sorrow or moments of feeling 'alive' (in only the way teenagers can), Tom is right there in the background. His early piano ballads, his avantgarde trilogy Raindogs/Swordfish Trombones/Frank's Wild Years or his later wild, weird and wonderful stuff, all is great, all is worth devoting months, years, a lifetime to. The list of truly great songs is endless, many of them has been covered by other artist and gone to the hitlists, in a more commercial version than the original. Of course one of his greatest songs, Tom Trauberts Blues, was written after an evening in Copenhagen with danish folksinger Mathilde (shirt stained with blood and whiskey...what did happen?) Possibly, out of such an outstanding and unparralelled body of work "Frank's Wild Years" is the best album. If you have never listened to Tom Waits, you may buy "Frank's Wild Years" and hate it. But if you give it a chance, and listen to it a couple of times, it will probably be the beginning of a wonderful, sentimental, romantic, beautiful, challenging, but never dissapointing journey... So, if you have ever held on to a lamppost for support, dreamt about the one that got away, longed for a love that was far away or felt like burning down your house and hitting the highway for a new start. Start the journey with "Frank's Wild Years".
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on 11 March 2016
FWY is something of an anomaly in the Waits' canon. Composed as a soundtrack to a stage show of the same title, it does not hang together as well as Tom's other show scores, like Blood Money or Alice, and in truth it always felt like the successor to Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombones. Inspired by a spoken-word monologue from that latter-mentioned album, it comes across very vague as a concept, if you haven't seen the show (which i haven't), unlike, say One From The Heart or The Black Rider. What it does have, however, is quality songs in abundance, from the barnstorming opener, Hang On St. Christopher, through such classics as Temptation, Blow Wind Blow, I'll Be Gone, and perennial stage staples such as Way Down In The Hole, Train Song, and best of all, the ever-lovely and haunting Cold Cold Ground. What it lacks is the seamless continuity of Swordfish and the almost-mainstream appeal of Dogs. Please Wake Me Up, followed by Frank's Theme and More Than Rain, i.e., are all great little songs in themselves, but they make hard work for the listener, the first two mentioned being quite unashamedly dirges, and no bad thing for that. But, what can you say? It's a Tom Waits album, and I cannot envisage giving less than five stars to anything that bears his name. Like Bowie, he truly is a one-off: a blend of composer and performer who really cares about music and is not afraid to go out on a limb. FWY is not the equal of Swordfish or Rain Dogs, but it is only a whisker away.
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on 7 April 2014
What's to say? I could have downloaded mp3s of this album but I'm old school enough to like something to hold - plus it was cheaper to buy the CD. Not SO old school to hunt down vinyl though. The prompt was a boxed set of The Wire and Waitse's "Down in the Hole" theme. Downhill from there. If you like the rumbunctious cat's meowing, a dragged chain and a hammer on a brake disk standing in for percussion, you'll love this record as much as I do.
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on 20 November 2016
This 3rd album in the 80s trilogy of swordfishtrombones, Raindogs and then this is my favourite. Realy tho all 3 are equaly great for different reasons. This tho is wierd and not as instantly likeable but give it a chance and then you see just how beautiful it is. Innocent when you dream, Train Song etc. All strange lonely and in its own wierd little world. Tom waits i always go back to more than any other artist. hes unique and special
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 November 2015
In a world inhabited by bar room drunks, seedy lounge crooners and circus sideshow grotesques Tom Waits presides as the ringmaster. Don't expect an easy ride from the third in the Frank's Wild Years trilogy but do expect songs that work their way into your consciousness after the several plays it will take to get what the hell is going on. Waits trademark eccentricity as usual takes no prisoners but hardly a word is wasted, with masterful lyrics painting a vibrant picture of the run-down lifestyles depicted. Pump organ, glockenspiel, melotron, accordian and a variety of badly-tuned pianos dominate the music, often with what sounds like a hungover Dixieland band accompanying matters. All this adds a huge amount of atmosphere to Wait's broken vocal chords which drip sincerity albeit with a twinkle of mischief in the corner of one eye. Standout tracks for me are Way Down In The Hole, I'll Be Gone and both versions of Innocent When You Dream. This isn't quite as direct as Raindogs or Swordfishtrombones but really repays further, concentrated listening.
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on 11 October 2011
but possibly the most rewarding. i wouldn't necessarily say this is a "starting point" for waits (although who's to say what works), but if you like his stuff, or you're prepared to listen to something a couple of times before making a judgement, rest in the knowledge this is inspired stuff. so much style, immense songs, perfect musicianship, and lyrics to make you laugh and cry. one of his best ever album-opening songs kicks it off with a great groove and a real driving (arf!) urgency. other highlights include "temptation", "i'll be gone", "more than rain", "telephone call from istanbul" and the tragic "train song". the album seems to loosely follow the career progression of a wannabe-frank-sinatra. suffice to say the career doesn't quite go the way intended. it's based on a play, but i've never seen the play (god, i wish i'd seen it), and so can only guess. the sheer desperation by the end is incredible. a warning against building your life on baseless dreams, maybe? this is a difficult album, but the rewards are magnificent
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