Frank's Wild Years
Originally released in 1987 on Island Records, Franks Wild Years is Tom Waits’ 10th studio album. Titled for a play of the same name and authored by Waits and his wife, Kathleen Brennan, Franks Wild Years was performed by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1986. Franks Wild Years is an iteration of the track “Frank’s Wild Years” from Waits’ 1983 album Swordfishtrombones.
The album divides the story neatly into two acts and although titled “un operachi romantic”, there is no opera in Franks. There is a hilarious touch of operatic styling by Waits himself in the song “Temptation.” His vocal character varies wildly throughout the work’s 17 songs, and is no more impressive than when the gruff, growly singer turns to impeccable Sinatra-esque phrasing on the Vegas number, “Straight To The Top.” While Franks featured a 14-member cast on stage, the album is all-Waits—yet suggests a multitude of characters by virtue of his chameleon vocals. The album is a startling group of lost dreams, bad dreams, dreams that might not even be dreams. The music is nightmarish, ethereal, beautiful. Think broken calliopes played by genius children, horns played at dawn in a graveyard, banjos leaking through practice room walls. Titles evoke Frank’s dime-store Odyssey: “Straight To The Top,” “Blow Wind Blow,” “Temptation,” “I’ll Be Gone.” NME ranked the work the number five album of 1987.
Newly remastered for the first time ever from the original ½” flat master tape and personally overseen by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. Mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering under the guidance of Waits’ longtime audio engineer, Karl Derfler. The album packaging has also been restored. Franks Wild Years includes tracks such as “Cold Cold Ground,” “Way Down In The Hole” – versions of which were used as the theme music of HBO’s series The Wire – and “Temptation.” Available on 180g black vinyl.
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