Waits, Tom: Swordfishtrombones LP

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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 art song, 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 were it not accompanied by equally striking, arc 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 album blazed a trail that Waits and countless imitators would follow fruitfully for years to come, and remains one of the most impressive recordings of his storied career. Premium 180g heavyweight audiophile vinyl featuring the original packaging.

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