Tom Waits

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Tom Waits

Between the release of Heartattack and Vine in 1980 and Swordfishtrombones in 1983, Tom Waits got rid of his manager, his producer, and his record company. And he drastically altered a musical approach that had become as dependable as it was unexciting.

Swordfishtrombones had none of the strings and much less of the piano work that Waits' previous albums had employed; instead, the dominant sounds on the record were low-pitched horns, bass instruments, and percussion, set in spare, close-miked arrangements (most of them by Waits) that sometimes were better described as “soundscapes.” Lyrically, Waits' tales of the drunken and the lovelorn had been replaced by surreal accounts of people who burned down their homes and of Australian towns bypassed by the railroad - a world (not just a neighborhood) of misfits now had his attention.

The music could be primitive, moving to odd time signatures, while Waits alternately howled and wheezed in his gravelly bass voice. He seemed to have moved on from Hoagy Carmichael and Louis Armstrong to Kurt Weill and Howlin' Wolf (as impersonated by Captain Beefheart).

Artistically, Swordfishtrombones marked an evolution of which Waits had not seemed capable (though there were hints of this sound on his last two Asylum albums), and in career terms it reinvented him.

Track Listing:
  1. Underground
  2. Shore Leave
  3. Dave The Butcher
  4. Johnsburg, Illinois
  5. 16 Shells From A 30.6
  6. Town With No Cheer
  7. In The Neighbourhood
  8. Just Another Sucker On The Vine
  9. Frank’s Wild Years
  10. Swordfishtrombone
  11. Down, Down, Down
  12. Soldier’s Things
  13. Gin Soaked Boy
  14. Trouble’s Braids
  15. Rainbirds

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