Wednesday, October 15, 2008

shore leave

The album on which Tom Waits first began to weave his poetic tales of dissolution around properly improvised avant-garde jazz motifs, and paid a fond farewell to the "Porgy & Bess" melodrama which had served him so long and so well.

Paving the way between the cinema bistro of 1980's "Heartattack and Vine" - his last for Asylum - and the lime lit sulfur contrasts of "Rain Dogs", "Swordfishtrombones" is a major artistic departure. The first Tom Waits long-player I recall purchasing which didn't sound suspiciously like it might have been composed for architects on a wine-tasting vacation. If his soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola's "One From The Heart" smells a little too much of pinot gris or California red, this one is more about cold gin and gut-rot.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I had enjoyed Tom Waits for some years prior to this release, but the oft touted Kerouac affair was beginning to wear as thin as fast as the average waistline of his listeners was expanding; this album leaves one in no doubt that genuine menace lurks in the shallows where your last mouthful meets the dregs.

Recorded during August 1982, Sunset Sound, Hollywood.

Sour breath and the fetid stink of perpspiration. And goodbye, Ernest Hemmingway, at last.

"I never could stand that dog."

TOM WAITS: SHORE LEAVE from "Swordfishtrombones" LP (Island) 1983 (US)

TOM WAITS: FRANK'S WILD YEARS from "Swordfishtrombones" LP (Island) 1983 (US)


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