Original Release - 1983
Tom Waits is one of those artists I have always been aware of, but have never listened to before now. This is the type of music you have to discover on your own, when you are ready, because if forced into it, I'm certain it would be easy to disregard almost instantly.
Tom Waits has been writing and recording music in his own unique style for many decades now. You will know its him instantly, his voice rough and abrasive, yet my ears long for his stories anyway. In "SWORDFISHTROMBONES" Waits is a storyteller, singing of interesting characters and situations, much like the undesirables in the lyrics of Craig Finn. Though some of Waits songs are love songs, the themes are that of the underworld, the counter-culture, the unseen and forgotten. This classic 1983 albums begins with "Underground", featuring Waits smoky gruff voice and a heavy beat, a track like many of Waits where you can actually "hear" the room.
I love the way Waits tells a story, I always long to hear more. "Shore Leave" displays some great Waits writing and presentation, in sort of a rambling, wayward way. "Dave The Butcher" is an instrumental on Side A that sounds like a creepy, evil carnival. One of my favorite songs on the entire album is "16 Shells From A .30 Aught-Six", just listen to it, it has a sweet beat, and totally rocks. The way Waits describes detail on this album is simple and effective, like on "Frank's Wild Years" where he describes a burning house as "Halloween Orange, and chimney red".
The experimental and abstract aspect of Wait's songs really jump out at you after repeated listens. These elements, along with excellent production, make this re-issue an interesting experience on vinyl. It has a full and warm sound, and Wait's voice is so fun to listen to with all the detail and range vinyl has to offer. This Island re-issue is standard weight, with a anti-static sleeve and an outer plastic sleeve. The vinyl is pretty nice, black, and clean.
Album - B+
Vinyl - B+