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Swordfishtrombones

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Between the release of Heartattack and Vine in 1980 and Swordfishtrombones in 1983, Tom Waits got rid of his manager, his producer, and his record company. And he drastically altered a musical approach that had become as dependable as it was unexciting. Swordfishtrombones has none of the strings and much less of the piano work that Waits' previous albums had employed; instead, the dominant sounds on the record were low-pitched horns, bass instruments, and percussion, set in spare, close-miked arrangements most of them by Waits that sometimes were better described as "soundscapes." Lyrically, Waits' tales of the drunken and the lovelorn have been replaced by surreal ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Between the release of Heartattack and Vine in 1980 and Swordfishtrombones in 1983, Tom Waits got rid of his manager, his producer, and his record company. And he drastically altered a musical approach that had become as dependable as it was unexciting. Swordfishtrombones has none of the strings and much less of the piano work that Waits' previous albums had employed; instead, the dominant sounds on the record were low-pitched horns, bass instruments, and percussion, set in spare, close-miked arrangements most of them by Waits that sometimes were better described as "soundscapes." Lyrically, Waits' tales of the drunken and the lovelorn have been replaced by surreal accounts of people who burned down their homes and of Australian towns bypassed by the railroad -- a world not just a neighborhood of misfits now have his attention. The music can be primitive, moving to odd time signatures, while Waits alternately howls and wheezes in his gravelly bass voice. He seems to have moved on from Hoagy Carmichael and Louis Armstrong to Kurt Weill and Howlin' Wolf as impersonated by Captain Beefheart. Waits seems to have had trouble interesting a record label in the album, which was cut 13 months before it was released, but when it appeared, rock critics predictably raved: after all, it sounded weird and it didn't have a chance of selling. Actually, it did make the bottom of the best-seller charts, like most of Waits' albums, and now that he was with a label based in Europe, even charted there. Artistically, Swordfishtrombones marked an evolution of which Waits had not seemed capable though there were hints of this sound on his last two Asylum albums, and in career terms it reinvented him.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/23/2009
  • Label: Island
  • UPC: 042284246910
  • Catalog Number: 842469
  • Sales rank: 9,978

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Tom Waits Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Synthesizer, Fiddle, Guitar, Harmonium, Hammond Organ, Vocals, Multi Instruments
Crystal Gayle Vocals
Victor Feldman Percussion, Conga, Bass Drums, Marimbas, Tambourine, Multi Instruments, Snare Drums
Shelly Manne Drums
Pete Jolly Piano, Accordion
Lanny Morgan Wind
Ronnie Barron Keyboards, Hammond Organ
Eric Bikales Organ
Larry Taylor Bass, Acoustic Bass
Bob Alcivar Piano
Randall Aldcroft Trombone, Horn, Baritone Horn, Baritone Saxophone
Dennis Budimir Guitar
Larry Bunker Drums
Anthony Clark Bagpipes
Greg Cohen Bass, Acoustic Bass
Teddy Edwards Saxophone
Chuck Findley Trumpet
Richard Gibbs Glass Harmonica
Carlos Guitarlos Guitar, Electric Guitar
Stephen Hodges Harmonica, Drums
Richard Hyde Trombone
Jack Sheldon Trumpet
Gayle LaVant Horn
John Lowe Wind
Jeff Porcaro Percussion
Emil Richards Vibes
Joe Rimano Trombone, Trumpet
Joe Romano Trombone, Trumpet
Anthony Stewart Bagpipes
Fred Tackett Banjo, Guitar, Electric Guitar
Big John Thomassie Drums
Francis Thumm Harmonica, Glass Harmonica, Angklung
Dick Hyde Trombone
William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach Jr. Trombone
Les Thompson Harmonica
Donald Waldrop Tuba
Technical Credits
Tom Waits Arranger, Composer, Producer
Tim Boyle Engineer
Biff Dawes Engineer
Francis Thumm Arranger, Contributor
Clark Spangler Programming
Jeff Sanders Mastering
Frank Mulvey Art Direction
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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    Posted May 18, 2010

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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