Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Friday 80s Flashback for September 1, 2023

[SWORDFISHTROMBONES] -- Recorded during the previous month, Swordfishtrombones was released on September 1, 1983. This was the eighth studio album by singer/songwriter – and all around lyrical raconteur – Tom Waits. Now, some might find it generous to call Waits a singer, but that's just because his style of performance can be a bit tough to take. I will admit that he is more miss than hit for me, but when he hits, he makes an undeniable connection. This is due to his prowess not only as a songwriter, but also as a storyteller. 

And all of Waits' talents are on display here. 

Swordfishtrombones saw Waits move to embrace more abstract instrumentation and experimental rock touches. This was a marked departure from his prior, piano-based songwriting. On this album, Waits employs something more akin to soundscapes than arrangements, and those soundscapes featured low-pitched horns, bass instruments, and percussion. William Ruhlmann of AllMusic writes that this album's " can be primitive, moving to odd time signatures" with Waits alternately howling and wheezing "in his gravelly bass voice." Critics raved, and NME even ranked the album as the second best of 1983 []. 

The album's lone single, the dirglike but not not necessarily dour "In The Neighborhood," did not chart, but it did receive some retroactive accolades. And it did rate an official music video. And while Swordfishtrombones wasn't exactly a hit album – it peaked at #62 on the UK Albums Chart and a lowly #167 on the US Billboard 200 – it is the official album for driving down dark roads en route to the swankiest of dive bars. OK, I made that up, but it seems like it could be a real thing. 

Take a trip through Swordfishtrombones and let me know where it takes you.

FlashbackSwordfishtrombones (September 1, 1983)

Well, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

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