Has to be one of pop music's most underrated albums
Pablo | Nashville, TN United States | 05/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I used to love this album in the late 80s and early 90s, but recently started listening to it again after a long hiatus (my wife hates TW, it ended up). Let me say this album is something of a minor miracle. It's hard to describe how evocative it is, but there is something about the coupling of the musical production and the lyrical imagination that is pure magic. When Waits creates the character of the American soldier on shore leave, who talked baseball with a lieutenant and shot billiards with a midget until the rain stopped, who bought a razor and some gum and knife and a t-shirt with horses on the front, the ambiance is enhanced by the clinging cowbells, thumping bass and other musical innovations that bring this scene to an almost theatrical life.
Unlike today's iPod culture which encouraged the consumption of "singles" and "favorite hits" without any kind of extended context, this album should be consumed and enjoyed in its entirety to get the full effect. "Frank's Wild Years", "Gin Soaked Boy", "In the Neighborhood" etc certainly hold up on their own, but as an ensemble they are tantamount to major artistic achievment."
Morton | Colorado | 04/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tom Waits-Swordfishtrombones *****
My relationship with Swordfishtrombones is as follows; there are days where I will feel that this album is Waits' best, then there are other days where I think it is just another one of Waits' great albums but certainly not is best. regardless of which day it is I do feel that it is among the elite in Waits' cannon. If it is not the best it is for sure one of the best he ever released, and is with out a doubt the second best he released during the 1980s, right behind the amazing Rain Dogs.
This was a departure for Waits away from his almost crooner style he had created for himself. During the 1970's he was very much the musical equivalent of Charlie Chaplin. A tramp if you will. The lyrics are still the same; that whole beat writer meats Bob Dylan in the town cafe, but it is the music, the junkyard flavor of instrumentation that is so different. Instead of the basic jazzy out fit he lobbied for break drums, and glass harmonicas to name just a few. But more then that is the strange time signatures he used that would make even the great Frank Zappa scratch his head in amusement.
Songs like the albums opener 'Underground' and 'In The Neighborhood' come like a complete culture shock almost to the fans of old Waits. The amazing title track sounds fresh and new yet it still holds on to the Waits material of the 1970's. 'Gin Soaked Blues' is a rough electric blues, while 'Soldiers Things' is downright melancholy. 'Franks Wild Years' was a sign of this and the next two albums, and 'Down, Down, Down' is pure bliss. But perhaps it is the genius of '16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six' that most makes the album. Eventually the great Bob Seger would cover this but not to the same accord. Waits' original version is cool, and chilling. The strongest track off the album easily.
Swordfishtrombones was Waits' tribute album to the great Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. He did a swell job I must say. This is truly for those looking for something a little different but still intelligent. Swordfishtrombones is a true classic."