Swordfishtrombones (studio album) by Tom Waits

Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits
Year: 1983
Overall rank: 380th   Overall chart historyOverall chart history
Average Rating: 
82/100 (from 721 votes)
  Ratings distributionRatings distribution   Average rating historyAverage rating history
Award Top 10 albums of 1983 (7th)
Award Top 100 albums of the 1980s (51st)
Award Top 500 albums of all time (380th)
Product Details

Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones Vinyl LP 1984 SP Reissue - VG/VG
Condition: Used

Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones NEW Sealed Vinyl LP Album
Condition: New

Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones Cassette Tape 1983 Island Records – 7 90095-4
Condition: Very Good

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Tom Waits bestography

Swordfishtrombones is ranked 2nd best out of 26 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 13,305.

Tom Waits album bestography « Higher ranked (109th) This album (380th) Lower ranked (522nd) »
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 721 votes)
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n = number of ratings an item has currently received.
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11/16/2023 15:25 rafaelcalazans  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 1,56653/100
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11/14/2023 16:30 Cyrax  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 1,34560/100
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11/08/2023 07:10 elchoppe  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 19880/100
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11/05/2023 22:20 moose44bob  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 26282/100
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10/13/2023 14:59 yes340  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 63676/100

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 80.6/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 81.8/100. The standard deviation for this album is 15.2.

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Swordfishtrombones comments

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From 04/28/2023 03:32
This is the first I've heard of Tom Waits, and I'm wondering where this has been my entire life. This is daring music, and Waits attacks it with such infectious confidence, as if he's been singing these songs his whole life. There is so much variety in these 15 tracks--every new song feels like a curveball, and the album somehow seems to get better the longer it goes on. Among other things, Swordfishtrombones deftly explores humor, beauty, loneliness, and small-town nostalgia. As others have mentioned, I feel like I'm at a smoke-filled bar listening to various characters animatedly telling stories about their lives. This album sparkles with genius, straddling traditionalism and the avant-garde simultaneously. Americana at its finest.
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From 03/05/2023 07:15
A loose concept album of sorts around titular main protagonist Frank, ‘swordfishtrombones’ is the perfect entry point for anyone looking to explore the Waits catalogue.
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From 10/16/2022 09:34
This album is so unique and good at the same time. It has a vibe of a drunken guy telling you stories in a bar over some jazz and blues instrumentals. I prefer his weird singing than spoken word, but I don't mind it very much. My favorite tracks are Underground and Swordfishtrombone, they are just magnificent. I would also like to highlight 16 Shells From A 30.6, In The Neighborhood (which sounds like weird Springsteen) and Down, Down, Down. Some instrumentals like Dave The Butcher are eerie, but it only adds to the atmosphere of a record.
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From 09/07/2022 01:08
Its alright but not his best
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From 07/05/2022 19:31
The best way to describe this record is that it is Rain Dogs just without the final polish that would put it right near the top but it is still amongst the greatest. You can tell the exact direction Waits is going with this release with its art/experimental rock style and it makes it clear he was onto something great with this album. Lyrically, it is just as strong as any Waits album with him depicting scenes and events in graphic detail that suck us into the world he creates. He then uses his rough, gritty voice to weave these tales to conjure up sorrow, pain and any other emotion he possibly can. He is so effective with the way he uses his voice and it fits this dark style of music perfectly. Then we go onto the music itself which is just brilliant. It is creative, experimental and a whole lot of fun to try and decipher. All the performances are very strong and we are treated to a vast array of instrumentation that are all used very effectively. The percussion, trombone, trumpet, organ and bass all stand out to me the most. There are lots more to find though and some very strange instruments on here also. However, what keeps this record away from being in the truly elite is the couple of filler songs we get. They are mainly the shorter songs that don't hold up as well and as Waits demonstrated, with songs like 9th And Hennepin, on Rain Dogs these songs can be phenomenal. Some songs just don't hit as well and fall quite short of the mark which I think is mainly due to the lack of experience in this field which is mastered later. Overall, this is a great album and well worth exploring for its experimentation and quality.
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From 01/27/2022 09:36
Tom Waits knows how to walk a different path musically. This album does not sound like anything that I know before. A very intimate album with New Orleans tones with that avantgarde spice makes this a challenging album to grab. Recommended warmly for those who are not afraid.
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From 01/03/2022 16:47
images of a smoke-filled room. cadenced messages America at night
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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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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. Speaking In Tongues by Talking Heads
7. Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits
8. Kill 'Em All by Metallica
9. Let's Dance by David Bowie
10. The Final Cut by Pink Floyd
11. Script Of The Bridge by The Chameleons
12. Clics Modernos by Charly García
13. Soul Mining by The The
14. Pyromania by Def Leppard
15. Script For A Jester's Tear by Marillion
16. Piece Of Mind by Iron Maiden
17. Holy Diver by Dio
18. The Hurting by Tears For Fears
19. Eliminator by ZZ Top
20. Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
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