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Swordfishtrombones (album) by Tom Waits

This album At A Glance
Swordfishtrombones
Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits (1983)
Overall rank: 389th   Overall chart history
Average Rating: 
82/100 (from 570 votes)
  Ratings distribution
Accolades: Award Top 10 albums of 1983 (6th)
Award Top 100 albums of the 1980s (51st)
Award Top 500 albums of all time (389th)

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Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones - Tom Waits CD 5014474004827 EX/EX IMCD 48
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Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones Scandinavia LP + Innerbag /3*
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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 108 in the list of all-time albums with a total rank score of 23,350.

Tom Waits album bestography « Higher ranked (108th) This album (389th) Lower ranked (551st) »
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 570 votes)
  Ratings distribution  Average Rating = (n ÷ (n + m)) × av + (m ÷ (n + m)) × AV
where:
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Showing latest 5 ratings for this album. | Show all 570 ratings for this album.

Rating
Date logged
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No. album ratings
Avg. album rating
 
80/100
44 hours ago
83/100
 
70/100
3 days ago
75/100
 
90/100
4 days ago
87/100
 
85/100
03/18/2019 09:57
78/100
 
80/100
03/17/2019 05:51
88/100

Related links: top albums of the 1980s, top albums of 1983.

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Swordfishtrombones comments

Showing latest 10 comments | Show all 26 comments | Most Helpful First | Newest First
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Rating:  
70/100
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 :)
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Rating:  
90/100
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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Rating:  
90/100
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)
Rating:  
95/100
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) | +2 votes (2 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
100/100
From Onater
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) | +4 votes (4 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
95/100
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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Rating:  
95/100
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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Rating:  
100/100
What a strange/great record, one of my favourite album!
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Rating:  
70/100
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
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | -2 votes (0 helpful | 2 unhelpful)
Rating:  
80/100
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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. Script For A Jester's Tear by Marillion
15. Holy Diver by Dio
16. Piece Of Mind by Iron Maiden
17. The Hurting by Tears For Fears
18. Soul Mining by The The
19. Eliminator by ZZ Top
20. Madonna by Madonna



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