2023 Marks forty years since Tom Waits released Swordfishtrombones, ushering in a new and critically acclaimed musical era for Waits and his longtime songwriting and production partner, Brennan. Waits went from ‘70’s-era “bluesy, boozy” wordsmith and melodist with seven albums behind him to sound sculptor, miner of the subconscious, abstract orchestrator, sonic cubist—while retaining his innate lyricism, melodic invention, humanity. As he put it in a 1983 interview: “I tried to listen to the noise in my head and invent some junkyard orchestral deviation—a mutant apparatus to drive this noise into a wreck collection.” It’s a Waits-arranged pastiche, a variety of atmospheres from different sound planets. There is the warped, marching-army-ants music of “Underground,” an impressionist chant about people living below cities, but there was also the poignancy of the spare piano ballad, “Soldier’s Things,” the good bar yarn, “Frank’s Wild Years”, the tender, minimalist paean to Waits’ wife and muse, Kathleen, “Johnsburg, Illinois,” and the raggedy anthem to neighborhood chaos, “In the Neighborhood.”
“On Swordfishtrombones, Waits has made a breakthrough – he’s found music as evocative as his words. Waits’s grumble of a voice now bounces off a peculiar assortment of horns and percussion and organ and keyboards, as if he’d led a Salvation Army band into a broken-down Hong Kong disco. It’s as if he’s shifted from monologues to screenplays…” - Jon Parales January 1984 - GQ Magazine
The album is newly remastered for the first time ever from the original EQ’ed ½” production 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. Available on 180g black vinyl.