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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Swordfishtrombones

Tom Waits

1983

Buy At Rough Trade
Swordfishtrombones
Album Summary

Swordfishtrombones is the eighth studio album by singer and songwriter Tom Waits, released in 1983 on Island Records. It was the first album that Waits produced himself. Stylistically different from his previous albums, Swordfishtrombones moves away from conventional piano-based songwriting towards unusual instrumentation and a somewhat more abstract and experimental rock approach.The album peaked at No. 164 on the Billboard Pop Albums and 200 albums charts.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.98

Votes

10320
Genres
Folk
Rock
Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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Wed Jan 12 2022
5

1 and 5 are equally valid ratings. Personally I have a lot of patience for goofy, borderline-unlistenable shit as long as it doesn't take itself too seriously. I like this halloween music.

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

Day 26 of Albums You Must Hear... Swordfishtrombones is an album released by one of the most interesting and abstract artists of the list thus far, Tom Waits. I first learned of Tom Waits several years ago while going down a YouTube rabbit hole. Heath Ledger largely took inspiration from Tom Waits for his role of The Joker in The Dark Knight. I will link the video that I watched below, the likeness is incredible. I must preface with this first, Tom Waits is not for everyone. He is abstract, off beat and, frankly, different. For those reasons, I really enjoy Tom Waits and Swordfishtrombone is a genius record. Waits is bound by no restraints, and the pace is up to him completely. In this album you get many sides of this mad genius. If I was to make a recipe for Tom Waits style, I’d say it’s 1 part jazz, 1 part circus clown, foaming from the mouth, 2 parts piss & vinegar, and 2 parts witty, spoken word poet. While having one of the most gravely voices in music, he can go rough and tough to sentimental and soft at the drop of a dime. My favorite song on Swordfishtrombone is In The Neighborhood, an almost national anthem version of Hometown, Anywhere. It’s nostalgic and melodic. On 16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six, I felt like a Hell’s Angel riding down a deserted highway with my grip tight on the ape-hangers handlebars. Vroom Vroom! I also love the use of non-traditional sounds in the instrumentation, like creaking of hinges or the steely slam of a sledgehammer knocking in railroad spikes. On Frank’s Wild Years, a spoken word piece, Waits tells a short story with words that slide out of his mouth with such ease and coolness that I totally didn’t expect the twist ending. I really love this cut from the album. Soldiers Things is sad and ironic, yet beautifully written. Tom Waits is a terrific pianist and brilliant songwriter. I look forward to delving deeper into his huge catalog. Please share your thoughts, opinions and memories!!

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Thu Mar 25 2021
1

I really don’t like Tom Waits’ music and this album hasn’t changed my opinion.

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Fri Dec 18 2020
5

It's not true that Tom Waits' music before this album contained no musical invention or experimentation. But, it is true that this is the point where he really let rip. Underpinning the bizarre sounds and vocal affectations is the great melodies you can hear on his earlier records. For such a wierd and wonderful collection, it ends up sounding and feeling really cohesive. I don't think it is quite his best work (that's Mule Variations, I think) but it is still a classic.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
5

You're walking through the fairground with your date. They're miserable as you couldn't even win them a prize goldfish at 'Toss the Ring'. You tried to tell them it's all a fix and the rings aren't big enough to fit over the bowls, but they wouldn't listen. They looked at you like this date was as poor as your excuse. It begins to drizzle and your candy floss droops. Who cares? The idea of candy floss was better than the actual thing anyway. Over the sounds of others laughing, talking and screaming, you glance over the top of your date's head and see a man made of right angles standing next to the waltzers. You catch his one good eye and realise it's too late; he's seen you. He starts barking at you and your date and beckoning with a twig like finger. His one milky eye seems to be like some hazy frayed rope that's been knotted around your neck and he draws you in. Over your date's protestations, he somehow convinces you both to sit inside a waltzer. No one else is here. The lights are flickering and the smell of sawdust and vomit become oppressive. He laughs like man gargling kitty litter and slams the safety bar down and spins the cab round as the ride starts up. You're stuck here with this awful date spinning round and round and round and round. You have the fear that you'll be here forever in some kind of carny limbo. This is the music that is playing over the speakers. The louder you scream the faster the ride. Remember: fun is the key but keep seated at all times or you may die. Best Tracks: 16 Shells from a 30.6; In The Neighbourhood; Down, Down Down

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Fri May 14 2021
1

Critics are just making up shit to like this album. Nirvana’s Nevermind before there was a Nirvana? Bullshit. This album may be deep, but it is unlistenable.

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Sat May 08 2021
5

An excellent album and important transition in his career as he started collaborating with and being influenced by his wife Kathleen. She introduced him to Captain Beefheart who became a major influence, and you can hear that in this album. He started developing more voices and characters that continue to show up in later albums. I am reminded why I like his music so much listening to the first couple tracks - he creates such vivid scenes, you can imagine the loneliness, seediness and darkness of the places he inhabits. Sweet to hear a song about Kathleen (Johnsburg, Illinois). I think there are a number of masterpieces on the album - 16 Shells, Frank's Wild Years included. Other standouts for me are Swordfishtrombone, Down Down Down, and Gin Soaked Boy. Ultimately I find Rain Dogs to be a better album - certainly my favorite of the 80's trilogy and probably of all his albums - but for me it still deserves 5 stars.

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Tue Jul 13 2021
3

Heard through the blue funk which has descended on every blue blooded Englishman and, I expect, all in their charge across the waves patrolled by those in service to the glory of crown and country since the crippling disappointment of the Euros 2020 final, this was a tonic. Capturing the spirit of jug bands - assembling new achievements from the scraps of whatever is lying around - and celebrating the once-fallen as heroes, it offers glints of hope glimmering at the end of dark alleys. Perhaps there is a way out. Perhaps it isn't interminable. And not just for the rogues and waifs here. I am talking also, of course, about our fallen heroes Bukayo, Kalvin, Kyle, the Harrys, et al. As for Waits' hoarse bark - 'tis surely the noise issuing forth from every true Three Lions fan's throat this week, after hours - nay, days - nay, weeks - of singing Three Lions, Sweet Caroline, and bellowing their support for our freedom-fighting soldiers of the football field. A real touch of class from Waits to record this tribute to the England team merely a day after their defeat.

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Sun Mar 14 2021
2

Arty music I don't understand or enjoy. Tom Waits sounds like he's doing a sarcastic impression of himself.

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Sun Aug 29 2021
2

I really don't like Tom Waits.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
1

Now I know for sure I don't like Tom Waits at all.

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Sun Oct 03 2021
1

Tom waits is absolutely the worst. Nails on a chalkboard.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
1

Good grief... I've already commented that I don't like Tom Waits's voice, but this album is labeled as "experimental rock." If you have to put it in a genre, I suppose that's as good as any, but there's quite a lot of this album that sounds like "drunken instrumentation." Imagine going to a carnival and hearing the background music played badly -- that's what the first three tracks sound like. Then at some point mid album bagpipes come in for a second? I felt slightly detached from reality after listening to this album, and not in a good way. I'm giving it a solid 1 star.

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Fri Mar 12 2021
5

Tommy boy. Some would say his finest hour (depends on who you ask), but this is when he started to get really weird, which I dig. His voice is a point of contention for a lot of people but I really like it. This album has everything that Tom had done until that point: sultry ballads, driving blues, poetry, strange, world-influences and weirdo lyrics. I like this album a lot but I think Rain Dogs just edges it out for this era of Tom. Favorite track: 16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six Least favorite track: Trouble’s Braids

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Mon Mar 22 2021
4

Thought I was out but he pulled me back in

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Thu Apr 21 2022
2

The instrumentation on this album is so good. The groove, the melodies, the music is absolutely fantastic. Moments of pure enjoyment and appreciation for how well the band plays each song, only to get interrupted by Tom Waits. Tom Waits is the villain in this album.

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Wed Aug 04 2021
1

You know what? I hate Tom Waits.

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Fri Oct 15 2021
1

He sucks bad. Like anyone could do this shit

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Sun Nov 21 2021
1

Don't get it, not an enjoyable listen

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Fri May 05 2023
1

The amount of Tom Waits in this exercise is making me fucking hate Tom Waits

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Thu Sep 24 2020
5

Tom Waits’s voice in “The Neighborhood” is my new favorite thing.

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Sat May 08 2021
5

This is a pretty good album to encapsulate a lot of styles of Tom Waits. You got your bastards, your brawlers, and your bawlers. This is definitely an album that keeps you thinking "What could be next?". I had not listened to the entire album for probably at least 7 years, but I had fav'd at least half the tracks, but discovered some new ones that I really like to add. The only duds for me are "Town With No Cheer", I don't think it adds anything to the album nor the Tom Waits catalog. Frank's Wild Years in isolation is just a little dumb-fun story, but if I recall Frank is a character throughout Wait's career, so there might be something more interesting there chronologically. I was thinking this would be a 4, but I am thinking it's probably a 5 actually. Not something I want to always throw on, but I can't deny it's a great album.

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Sat Jun 26 2021
5

I thought for a long time that Tom Waits was not the artist for me and that I would not enjoy any of his works, but that was before I heard this album. Unlike the problems I had with Heartattack and Vine, this album I believe showcases where Waits' voice really shines. Abstract and weird in the best ways, this album was a colossal, strange, wondrous ride through Waits' mind. He doesn't let himself get shoehorned into that deep gravely voice that he is known for, and there are some quieter, smoother songs that showcase a range I didn't know he had. Sometimes you just get some quiet instrumentals or tracks where he just speaks, which is a nice palate cleanser between songs. Overall, an album that shocked me with how great it was.

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Thu May 20 2021
5

Tom Waits is Tom Waits! He's an aquired taste, but i really like this album. He masterfully blends multible genres.

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Sun Jan 23 2022
5

damn this was a really cool album the more I listen to Tom Waits the more I can appreciate his style and the way he grows in his discography can’t decide what my favorite song is, I’m just gonna give this a 10/10, awesome album, please listen to it

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Thu Apr 28 2022
5

A beautiful but dangerous circus run by ghosts of soldiers with broken hearts. Lovely lovely lovely.

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Sun Aug 21 2022
5

I love the man. He has a carny appeal that really strikes me as folksy, authentic, and fun while still being grounded and deep at points.

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Sun Aug 21 2022
5

Listening to Tom Waits is like a reverse date rape - he'll drug you just to take you back to the bar.

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Wed Dec 21 2022
5

the sound of a cookie crumbling

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Wed Dec 21 2022
5

Like a drunk grizzly bear in depression era New York trying to sing to you about its broken heart.

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Thu Jan 05 2023
5

This is where Tom Waits started to become a WEIRDO

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Thu Jan 27 2022
4

Круто. Чувак знает что делает.

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Sun Apr 03 2022
3

Charming and unusual journey into strange piano bars that still somehow existed in 1983 having presumably been transplanted from 1920s Vienna.

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Fri Aug 20 2021
2

Was intrigued with this one as I know how much Waits is revered by true music lovers. Underground was not a good start - not sure what the allure is of angry Slipknot-like growling with Big Top circus musical accompaniment. I'd say one or the other but tracks 3 and 8 were the latter and I hated it. So need the right music with his voice - I quite liked 16 Shells from a 30.6 and Gin Soaked Boy so its doable. Shore Leave wasn't bad - still eclectic music but vocals not so off-putting (even the end of song warbling). In the Neighbourhood had some cool lyrics, Rainbirds was pretty, and the title track was alright. But his voice is just awful (it's like listening to the Cookie Monster) and there's way too much weird stuff and not enough good stuff that I'd want to listen to more than once (if that) or listen hard for the lyrics.

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Sun Jul 04 2021
5

The incredible string of 5 star albums continues. What an INSANELY good album. I’ve heard some of Tom’s more stopped down outings before, but the instrumentation and production values on Swordfishtrombones is out of this world.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
5

Heerlijk, dit is voor mij toch het album van Tom Waits waar het voor mij mee begon. Ik ben helemaal niet van de toeters en bellen maar op dit album valt alles op zijn plek.

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Fri May 14 2021
5

I love Tom Waits A LOT. I'm also biased because I love trombone. But this album is genuinely fantastic.

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Sun Jun 27 2021
5

Wow. Strange album but what an experiment in songwriting and genre bending. Will be listening to again

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Fri Aug 20 2021
5

I'm a huge fan of Tom Waits. This is my favorite album by him. It's a crazy trip from the opening chaos of Underground to the final piano of Rainbirds. Lyrically it has some crazy moments (Frank's Wild Years) or just tells a great story (Shore leave) or has a warm and tender touch (Soldier's Things). The music and production are second to none as well and that's what gives each track its unique vibe.

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Sun Aug 22 2021
5

Very good, not an album I was familiar with but it sounds like it should be

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Thu Sep 02 2021
5

I have listened to quite a bit of tom waits. I don't believe that I ever listened to this album. But, I tell you what, I like it. I love his voice, sounds like gargling gravel and petrol. Just stoney, and rough. I think it creates such a neat sound. Plus he is a pretty interesting guy, and for sure reflects in his music. This one is a weird one for sure. But there are some songs I deem to be classics. The neighborhood is an absolute classic 16 Shells from a 30.6 absolutely slaps. This get recommended from me for sure now.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
5

5 Thoroughly entertaining and brilliant writing throughout.

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Mon Sep 20 2021
5

The only album we wanted to play again right after we finished it of the 80 so far.

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

I've heard a bit of Tom Waits before but now I'm hooked. I love the variety of his sound, from smokey lounge singer to ballads and much more.

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Fri Oct 15 2021
5

Love this. Sounds quite original, and definitely 'Tom Waits'.

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Fri Nov 05 2021
5

A genuine piece of art. It’s able to make some of the ugliest sounds known to man and meld them into something beautiful

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Sun Nov 21 2021
5

I love Waits and this one is a particular favourite.

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

Very funny, some real interesting Instrumentation

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

There's no one else like Tom Waits. I can understand why he wouldn't be enjoyable to a lot of people but if you get what he's putting out then you're probably going to love him. Its probably not my favorite from this legend but its among them

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Thu Jan 20 2022
5

This is a stellar album that showcases Waits vocal range and his songwriting ability.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
5

Swordfishtrombones is the eighth studio album by singer and songwriter Tom Waits, released in 1983 on Island Records. It was the first album that Waits produced himself. Stylistically different from his previous albums, Swordfishtrombones moves away from conventional piano-based songwriting towards unusual instrumentation and a somewhat more abstract and experimental rock approach.

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Sun Feb 20 2022
5

I had a group of friends who were listening to Tom Waits and John Prine when the rest of us had switched to Talking Heads & B52s. They liked Tom because he was “greasy”. It seems that as his career progressed into the 80s his songs about America’s underbelly went deeper underground, with more obscure vocals and lyrics in addition to Vaudeville influences, trombones, baritones, accordions, marimbas, plus a few non-instruments. I remember we (my co-judge?) owned this album and the only song I paid much attention to was Frank’s Wild Years because there was a Raymond Carver story that had a similar plot line. I have a greater appreciation of it now, especially when listening to it back-to-back with his earlier, less edgy material, much of which we will be listening to, courtesy of 1001 over the next couple of years. He’s an uncompromising artist with the perspective that the rest of the world will have to get on the same page as him, not the other way around.

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Thu Apr 21 2022
5

Glorious music beamed straight from some sort of mirror universe. I love this stuff. Fave track - tough one. "16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six" has that awesome bizarro sound that would go on to make up most of my favourite Waits album "The Mule Variations". "Frank's Wild Years" and "Swordfishtrombone" make an excellent one two punch, too...

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Thu Apr 28 2022
5

Tom Waits was one of the big surprises I had so far listening to the 1001 albums… I didn’t think I’d enjoy listening to him for a whole album. But when I listened to RAIN DOGS was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Now listening to this I love it too! My instinctive reaction to Tom Waits is changing… I love the instrumentation on the songs. It compliments perfectly Tom Waits’ distinctive vocals. The stories in the songs held me transfixed… “Frank’s Wild Years” opens with ‘Well Frank settled down out in the valley, and he hung his wild years on a nail he drove through his wife’s forehead.’ Who doesn’t want to hear the rest of that story?! (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well) I think I might have enjoyed SWORDFISHTROMBONES even more than RAIN DOGS. This is a wildly interesting, crazy quilts of songs. Some tell stories, some are inscrutable, and some are fun flights of musical fancy. Yet they cohere as an album - one I will be happy to listen to again! Immediate favorite tracks: 16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six, In the Neighborhood, Frank’s Wild Years, Soldier’s Things, Rainbirds

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Thu Apr 28 2022
5

This is amazing. My father was a huge fan, and while I thought Tom Waits was a bit challenging to listen to then, I really appreciate him now. Love.

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Mon May 09 2022
5

The best Tom Waits album. The point when he transitioned from smoky ballads which he was still very good at to weird stuff. The guitar line on the first song alone is incredible

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Wed Jun 08 2022
5

This is Tom Waits' 8th studio album and his first one away from conventional piano'-based music to more abstract and experimental. Yeah, a lot of these songs have horns, various percussions, weird sounds and, of course, Tom's gravelly voice. The album is worth it alone just for the unique stories he tells and then you add in the various instruments and noises. Never a dull moment. Most the songs have lyrics. There a few instrumentals, one which sounds has a vaudeville atmosphere. There are plenty of song highlights. "Shore Leave" tells a first-person account of a soldier leaving on a boat traveling through Asia and elsewhere accompanied by creepy percussions, bass and random noises and screams. In "16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought-Six," a farmer takes his frustration out shooting a crow or scarecrow sixteen times. The song has a unique time signature and noises sounding like a gun is getting reloaded. "Frank's Wild Years" is a story about Frank who eventually burns down his house and rides off on the Freeway. It has one of the great lines about his wife and dog "His wife was a spent piece of used jet trash,"Had a Chihuahua named Carlos that had some sort of skin disease and was totally blind." Tom went on to name an album by the same name a few years later. This is a fun and unique album. I know there are a few more Tom Waits' albums to come which should be just as enjoyable.

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Wed Jun 15 2022
5

This is regarded as the first album in the second part of Tom's career, also the first of what is considered a trilogy followed by Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years. It marks the beginning of his changeover from the Louis Armstrong-ish, bluesy, wild living phase into his much more eclectic sound pulling influences from wherever he could find them. I've been a major fan since I first heard Heart of Saturday Night in 1974. I sincerely believe that when music history is written years from now that he will be recognized as one of the most important musical figures of the 20th century. I just wish he had one more tour in him since he is one of the most electric acts ever live.

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Mon Sep 12 2022
5

This is one of the finest hours of music ever recorded. It's absolutely criminal that this isn't more notorious than it is, because Tom Waits really turned his entire career over with this, by tearing his own music down and rebuilding his songs as unconventionally as he felt like (or not). Stunningly brilliant and beautiful, tasteful musicianship throughout. Runs the gamut from heartbreaking to hilarious to seriously fucking frightening. Definitely top ten Greatest Albums of All Time. Top Twenty at worst.

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Fri Sep 30 2022
5

не сразу поняла тома уэйтса, но прониклась благодаря джармушу и фильму «вне закона» уэйтс крутой музыкант, но мне пока нужно очень особое настроение, чтобы его слушать (так, конечно, про всех можно сказать, но уэйтс один из тех, кто плохо вписывается в повседневность)

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Fri Sep 30 2022
5

оч крутой альбом! какой-то arthur shelby energy

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Fri Oct 14 2022
5

Tom Waits a le don de faire des albums incroyablement bizarre. Celui-ci n'en échappe pas.. Cependant, c'est un bijou a l'oreille car il y a cohésion dans tout cela et l'écoute est très bonne. 5

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Wed Nov 02 2022
5

Favourite album from a favourite artist. Like the Ramones, who I listened to a few albums ago, he polarises listeners, and that's OK. You either buy into the world he has created over the decades, or you don't.

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Thu Nov 03 2022
5

Classic Waits. And you won't find many better Side 1's than this. Amazing how Tom re-invented himself. A rare and very special talent.

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Wed Nov 16 2022
5

Waits' first "weird" record (and my first introduction to his work) remains my favorite for all of its diverse voices and wide ideas. Favorite track: 'Soldier's Things'

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Thu Nov 17 2022
5

Very cool album artwork! I get to listen to this on vinyl!! Exciting! Absolutely love the variety, experimentation with sound, unusual but warm yet gritty vocals. Gorgeous sounds and one of the greats in the singer song writer category.

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Fri Dec 02 2022
5

A fascinating and colourful album full of interesting instrumentation accompanying Waits' distinctive voice and compelling lyrics. 4.5/5

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Wed Jan 11 2023
5

Tom Waits is a one-of-a-kind artist and a favorite of mine who I don't listen to enough. I wasn't very familiar with this album but it's excellent. There's a lot of different blues, folk and jazz styles here, all played exceptionally well and infused with his unique style. The music is full of minor chords and off-kilter rhythms to match the odd, disturbed lyrics. And his vocal performance is always bold. He has an incredible range. All the songs are great but here's a handful of favorites: - "16 Shells from a 30.6" (Awesome stripped down blues rock) - "In the Neighborhood" (What kind of style is this? A march? I love his singing here. It's rough but also triumphant and beautiful.) - "Frank's Wild Years" (Hilarious and bizarre spoken word story) - "Swordfishtrombones" (So many interesting lyrics here) - "Trouble's Braids" (Whoa! What even is this? Amazing energy) - "Rainbirds" (A stunning, jazzy finale)

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Thu Apr 20 2023
5

Another personal favorite. Tom Waits was able to create something unique and entertaining with this album, and it marked a new direction for his music that went on into weirder and wilder years.

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Fri Apr 28 2023
5

This was a funny one for sure - hard to simplify my thoughts into a couple sentences. To start, it's pretty challenging. I wouldn't say I'm a complete stranger to experimental rock and roll, but that doesn't mean that things can't be surprising or grating. This album kind of has this strange pattern of whacking you over the head with a frying pan, then immediately laying you onto a bed of feathers. I'll be unsettled by one song, then charmed by the next. The instrumentation and production is pretty enjoyable regardless of anything else. Some of the heavy percussive/dirty guitar/melodic bass line combinations are impossible to not enjoy. And some of the slower piano ballads can be fairly moving. The beat poetry's content I sometimes found off-putting (and if I'm taking points off, it's here) but ultimately enjoyed its rhythm and griminess more than I condemned its shortcomings. Maybe this is one of those ones that comes down to when/where/how you listen to it. First casual listen I thought maybe I'd rate this pretty low down - a light three or even less. But the more I listen to it I see it more like an arthouse film, and it's pretty perfectly beated out. This might be crap, but I think it's probably genius. Four and a half. Fave track is Town With No Cheer

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Sun May 07 2023
5

Top three Tom Waits album. The best of his Sturm Und Klang era.

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Sun May 14 2023
5

A bizarre album that you simply can’t stop listening to.

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Mon Jun 19 2023
5

Il commento della nonna Fra: sta musica la ga da sentire solo chi che se ne intende😂 Io invece apprezzo molto

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Mon Jun 26 2023
5

I'm frequently blown away by Tom Waits. I didn't used to find his music that listenable, but was still amazed by his song writing skills and his ability to add depth and texture to his music. The more I hear it the more I find new details. He's a once in a generation talent.

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Fri Jul 21 2023
5

shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaooooooooooooooooooööööööööööööööööööööööre leave

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Sun Jul 23 2023
5

Underground // Shore Leave // Johnsburg, Illinois // 16 Shells From A 30.6 // Town With No Cheer // In The Neighbourhood // Just Another Sucker On The Vine // Pretty much every song… 5/5

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Mon Aug 07 2023
5

Weird and wonderful. Tom waits for no man.

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Thu Sep 14 2023
5

An absolutely seminal album. Waits' earlier offerings were fantastic, but were more standard singer-songwriter style with lots of blues, folk, and jazz influences. This album marks a deviation from that as Waits delves more into the experimental and proto-industrial. Echoing clangs of junkyards, haunting Vaudevillian melodies, and poetic musings all fill a rich and varied soundscape. Waits' ability to craft worlds and characters with his lyrics is second to none and ensures this album is truly memorable.

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Mon Sep 25 2023
5

Just outstanding. Best American lyricist. Love his gravel voice and that swing. Tom Waits is the king of his land.

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Thu Sep 28 2023
5

Nobody does it like Mr Waits

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Fri Sep 29 2023
5

Tom Waits is always good for something new. Soldier's Things is surprisingly heartfelt and straight down the middle. The instruments/sounds used throughout are interesting. Somehow the songs all hang together despite having the initial feeling of being tattered and threadbare.

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Sat Sep 30 2023
5

What a stunningly creative, immersive musical experience. So much of the music we hear on 1001 Albums is a piece of the time in which it was made. A lot of it is pretty forgettable, but this album is a creative masterpiece that manages to exist outside of time. I listen to a fair amount of Tom Waits, and no, it's not something most people would care to put on every day. But Waits is a truly unique artist in music, and this is just about as close to a perfect album as he ever made. Wildly entertaining front to back, this album feels cinematic in its scope, like an anthology of grimy tales about loneliness and desperation, with a stealth love story tucked in the middle. Lyrically vivid, with moments of both dark humor and surprise tenderness. Each of the seemingly unconnected vignettes is a carefully crafted universe on its own. Musically, the songs swing from percussively off-kilter to softly elegant, steeped in dusky blues, tin pan alley and jazz. Fave Songs (All songs, from most to least favorite): Swordfishtrombone; In the Neighborhood; Gin Soaked Boy; Just Another Sucker on the Vine; Rainbirds; Soldier's Things; 16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought-Six; Down, Down, Down; Underground; Town with No Cheer; Johnsburg, Illinois; Shore Leave; Frank's Wild Years; Dave the Butcher; Trouble's Braids

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Tue Oct 03 2023
5

TWO Tom Waits albums in one month? Wow. Not even enough time to let that other one simmer. Anyway, it's kinda shocking how if I am focused enough on a task, this music just blends right into the background. Tom Waits is an acquired taste for sure. I think his vocals work for spooky season. Not that he needs my approval or anything, but yeah I liked this one quite a bit.

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Tue Oct 17 2023
5

His lyrics hit me like few others. And if this is the start of his weird cave marimba percussion then it’s my favourite era.

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Thu Nov 09 2023
5

I forgot 16 shells from this album. In my imagination, apparently, it was much more recent like mule variations recent. Anyway, classic album. Real gems. Listening with headphones I heard lyrics I'd never noticed before. Tom is a genius still but he was definitely a genius then

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