Swordfishtrombones (studio album) by Tom Waits

Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits
Year: 1983
Overall rank: 373rd   Overall chart historyOverall chart history
Average Rating: 
82/100 (from 634 votes)
  Ratings distributionRatings distribution
Award Top 10 albums of 1983 (6th)
Award Top 50 albums of the 1980s (48th)
Award Top 500 albums of all time (373rd)

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 102 in the list of all-time albums with a total rank score of 15,968.

Tom Waits album bestography « Higher ranked (102nd) This album (373rd) Lower ranked (514th) »
Rain DogsSwordfishtrombonesClosing Time

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Swordfishtrombones track list

Track ratingsTrack ratings The tracks on this album have an average rating of 82 out of 100 (all tracks have been rated).

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Swordfishtrombones ratings

Average Rating: 
82/100 (from 634 votes)
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07/28/2020 07:40 maxjelbart  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 1,31972/100
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07/26/2020 14:03 Voropaev  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 28769/100
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07/25/2020 15:36 Richeyre  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 23282/100
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07/21/2020 21:17 Fritz  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 78977/100
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07/19/2020 01:43 BozoTyrannus  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 33571/100

Rating metrics: Outliers can be removed when calculating a mean average to dampen the effects of ratings outside the normal distribution. This figure is provided as the trimmed mean. A high standard deviation can be legitimate, but can sometimes indicate 'gaming' is occurring. Consider a simplified example* of an item receiving ratings of 100, 50, & 0. The mean average rating would be 50. However, ratings of 55, 50 & 45 could also result in the same average. The second average might be more trusted because there is more consensus around a particular rating (a lower deviation).
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This album is rated in the top 1% of all albums on BestEverAlbums.com. This album has a Bayesian average rating of 81.7/100, a mean average of 80.8/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 81.9/100. The standard deviation for this album is 15.1.

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Swordfishtrombones comments

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From 05/04/2020 13:39
Swordfishtrombones is one of those albums that makes me think "I wish I'd made that". Fantastic album.
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From 04/14/2020 04:59
I thought this album was gonna be a bit more experimental than it ended up being after hearing the first track, which, if I'm gonna be honest, disappointed me to some degree. But I was not disappointed by the excellent songwriting. Tom Waits deserves more credit for his ability to craft an interesting collection of songs that are just experimental enough to make you think about how it was written and how it makes you feel. Swordfishtrombones is excellent.
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From 12/31/2019 16:46
Very cool.
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From 07/22/2019 15:26
Favorite Tracks:Dave The Butcher, Johnsburg Illinois, In The Neighborhood, Swordfishtrombone, Gin Soaked Boy, Trouble's Braids, Rainbirds
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From 02/20/2019 03:00
Weird starter but the double bass sound on this record is truly amazing!
Overall quality of sound is great. Also, the music is well crafted but not particularly brilliant.
It has a lot of interesting improvs that end with fadeout. Guess it wasn't designed as a total piece but as a good collection of tracks, jams, timbres, sounds, textures, etc :)
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | -1 votes (0 helpful | 1 unhelpful)
From 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 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.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From 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
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +3 votes (3 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From 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.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +5 votes (5 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From 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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Best Albums of 1983
1. Murmur by R.E.M.
2. Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes
3. Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order
4. War by U2
5. Synchronicity by The Police
6. Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits
7. Speaking In Tongues by Talking Heads
8. Kill 'Em All by Metallica
9. The Final Cut by Pink Floyd
10. Let's Dance by David Bowie
11. Script Of The Bridge by The Chameleons
12. Pyromania by Def Leppard
13. Soul Mining by The The
14. Script For A Jester's Tear by Marillion
15. Piece Of Mind by Iron Maiden
16. The Hurting by Tears For Fears
17. Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
18. Eliminator by ZZ Top
19. Clics Modernos by Charly García
20. Holy Diver by Dio
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