- Personnel: Tom Waits (vocals, Hammond B-3 organ, vocal harmonium, synthesizer, harmonium, keyboards, percussion); Fred Tackett (guitar, banjo); Carlos Guitarlos (guitar); Anthony Clark Stewart (bag pipes); Francis Thumm, Richard Gibbs (glass harmonica); Joe Romano (trumpet, trombone); Randy Aldcroft, Joe Romano, Bill Reichenbach, Dick "Slyde" Hyde (trombones); Ronnie Barron (Hammond organ); Victor Feldman (Hammond B-3 organ, percussion); Larry Taylor (acoustic bass, bass); Greg Cohen (acoustic bass); Stephen Taylor, Arvizu Hodges (drums, percussions); Carl Spangler (programming).
- Recorded in August 1982.
- Though Tom Waits had spent most of the '70s establishing himself as one of America's most distinctive singer-songwriters, SWORDFISHTROMBONES found him reinventing himself and creating one of the most original sounds in popular music. Leaving behind his Kerouac-influenced lyrics and lounge-lizard piano-bar stylings for an unprecedented eclecticism that merged Brecht-Weill artsong, Captain Beefheart-style avant blues, Harry Partch-inspired junkyard percussion, along with a healthy dose of everything else but the kitchen sink.
- All this sonic exoticism would be for naught where it not accompanied by equally striking, arch songwriting. SWORDFISHTROMBONES moves from the Ken Nordine-style recitative of "Frank's Wild Years" and the demented Delta blues of "Gin Soaked Boy" to the marimba-laced shaggy-dog tale "Shore Leave" and the crazed, Loony Tunes instrumental "Dave the Butcher."
- The blazed a trail that Waits (and countless imitators) would follow fruitfully for years to come, and remains one of the most impressive recordings not just of Waits's career, but of anyone's.
Q (10/92, p.100) - 5 Stars - Indispensable - "...one of the pivotal albums of the '80s...an American melting-pot music such as had never been heard before..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.77) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n album that shifted gloriously in mood....SWORDFISHTROMBONES continues to amaze."
NME (Magazine) (9/25/93, p.19) - Ranked #16 among The 50 Greatest Albums Of The '80s.