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Swordfishtrombones (album) by Tom Waits 

This album At A Glance
Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits (1983)
Overall rank: 371st   Overall chart history
Average Rating: 
82/100 (from 551 votes)
  Ratings distribution
Accolades: Top 10 albums of 1983 (6th)
Top 50 albums of the 1980s (47th)
Top 500 albums of all time (371st)

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Tom Waits bestography

Swordfishtrombones is ranked 2nd best out of 28 albums by Tom Waits on BestEverAlbums.com.

The best album by Tom Waits is Rain Dogs which is ranked number 109 in the list of all-time albums with a total rank score of 22,756.

Tom Waits album bestography « Higher ranked (109th) This album (371st) Lower ranked (552nd) »
Rain DogsSwordfishtrombonesClosing Time

Members who like this album also like: Rain Dogs by Tom Waits, Remain In Light by Talking Heads and Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth.

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Swordfishtrombones rankings

Swordfishtrombones ratings

Average Rating: 
82/100 (from 551 votes)
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From Sandrof1969 02/12/2018 16:44
Tom Waits agli inizi degli anni ottanta impazzisce artisticamente, cambia città, trova moglie e smette di essere il cantore della notte, ubriaco di whiskey e di jazz e diventa un poeta, un regista, un narratore oltre che un cantante, dei bassifondi e delle fogne della città. Lo fa cambiando modelli musicali che diventano Howlin' Wolf, Captain Beefheart e gli Stones di "Exile…" ed anche strumentazione, raccattando oggetti qua e là e trasformandoli in strumenti da affiancare alla chitarra di Marc Ribot, valore aggiunto alla sua musica. Risultato: spettacolo puro.
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From poppmusic 03/20/2017 06:22
Now here's an interesting one- one magazine named this the second greatest album of all time, while others find it forgettable even within Waits' own catalog.

Waits brings out his literary side, taking interest, like in Rain Dogs, in musical's "thief" characters, but with this album you have more of a countryside influence than the urbane Rain Dogs- many songs, like "Town with No Cheer", "In the Neighborhood", and "Swordfishtrombone" sound to me like you're in a strange, storybook French village. I also hear some influence from the trompe l'oeil art movement (or perhaps 17th century Dutch painting), especially in "Soldier's Things", a song that along with "Shore Leave" captures postwar loneliness. The same may be Waits's best spoken word track, with every line infinitely evocative.

With all these incredibly unique influences you'd think that'd make an absolute classic. Well, I'm not sure the album is well ordered- it never gets into a groove of songs that you can take together rather than on their own merits. I also really do not understand what people see in "16 Shells from a 30.6"- I think this is definitely one of Waits's weaker tunes (great instrumentation but repetitive track), and it takes up a lot of space on a short album. The urbane songs ("Down Down Down", "Gin Soaked Boy") do in a way sound like Rain Dogs equivalents but not as good. "Frank's Wild Years" is a bit overdone, and the instrumental "Rainbirds" really should have found itself on one of Waits's 70s albums as a closer instead.
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From F1Aaron 01/05/2017 04:29
Being new to Tom Waits' stuff I can say he's starting to grow on me. Though I heard Rain Dogs a few times before this (even though I like it), this one just clicked with me almost immediately on first listen. I can't explain why but all I know is that I'm in for an interesting ride into his work
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From Onater 12/29/2016 01:50
Listening to this is like entering one of those weird antique shops that smells of incense and it's full of religious imagery and wooden statues and there's some creepy old hippy woman at the counter.
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From TheSmiths82-87 06/15/2016 10:13
Out of all my record collection, I think this album took the longest for me to realise how great it actually was, I had it roughly 13 years before I truly loved it.

Swordfishtrombones was the beginning of Tom Waits more experimental period which then went on to include Rain Dogs and Frank’s Wild Years to complete his 1980’s trilogy of classic albums.

After a number of plays it becomes hard to imagine this was ever considered a difficult listen really, and even then there are a number of what could be considered ‘normal’ tracks like Soldier’s Things, Johnsburg Illinois and the delightful In The Neighbourhood to name but three.
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From garycottier 04/17/2016 17:59
Swordfishtrombones, must be one of the prime examples of one of the most leftfield turns a pop/rock artist has made in popular music. Only Scott Walker springs to mind in as such as a songwriter making such a drastic departure to what has gone before. Off course, there had been hints in tunes such as, red shoes by the drugstore, and you can't unring a bell, but nothing could have really prepared anyone for this. It must have sounded absolutely bizarre and baffling on first listen in 1983, it was Captain Beefheart, Harry Partch, and a whole host of other twisted Americana. On, Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits conjours up a rich tapestry of off beat quirkiness and, Underground, gets things up and running nicely, and, shore leave, follows, a brilliantly vivid portrayal of a soldier looking for things to do on his time off. There's great stuff everywhere, from the excellent, town with no cheer, the bluesy howl of, 16 shells from a thirty-ought-six, and the wonderfully shambolic, in the neighborhood. Elsewhere, there's, Johnsburg, Illinois, about girlfriend Kathleen Brennan, and along with, a soldier's things, the nearest the album gets to Waits' past sounds. There's the funky title track, and, Frank's wild years, which would be the basis of a musical Waits would later write, and the heartattack and vine sound crops up in, gin soaked boy. In truth, the record starts to run out of steam towards the end, but it's all good. So, all in all, a stunningly imaginative and magical record. Genius.
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From CanadianGuy 12/03/2015 21:21
What a strange/great record, one of my favourite album!
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From pantoffeljoscha 08/17/2015 17:45
Like zonrod says: It's a prelude to Rain Dogs, nothing more, but also nothing less. It feels not completely developed, the songs don't stay in the head. But it's Tom Waits, so better than 90% of all other music
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From junodog4 12/14/2014 22:27
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From BOURKEY 10/10/2014 22:40
No Elvis Beatles or Rolling Stones]
I like small change but prefer
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Best Albums of 1983
1. Murmur by R.E.M.
2. Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes
3. Synchronicity by The Police
4. Power, Corruption And Lies by New Order
5. War by U2
6. Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits
7. Kill 'Em All by Metallica
8. Speaking In Tongues by Talking Heads
9. The Final Cut by Pink Floyd
10. Pyromania by Def Leppard
11. Let's Dance by David Bowie
12. Script Of The Bridge by The Chameleons
13. Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble
14. Holy Diver by Dio
15. Script For A Jester's Tear by Marillion
16. The Hurting by Tears For Fears
17. Piece Of Mind by Iron Maiden
18. Soul Mining by The The
19. Madonna by Madonna
20. Eliminator by ZZ Top

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