Franks Wild Years
Performer: Tom Waits
Artist: Marc Ribot; David Hidalgo; Ralph Carney
Engineer: Danny Leake; Bill Highley; David Glover; David Knight; Lorita DeLaCerna; Mike Kloster; Stephen Shelton; Tchad Blake; Biff Dawes...
Producer: Tom Waits...
Distributor: Universal Distribution
Notes: Personnel: Tom Waits (vocals, guitar, Mellotron, pump organ, Farfisa, drums, tambourine, congas); Morris Tepper (guitar); Marc Ribot (guitar, banjo); Ralph Carney (violin, tenor saxophone, baritone horn); David Hidalgo (accordion); William Schimmel (accordion, piano, pump organ, Leslie bass pedals); Greg Cohen (alto horn, bass, Leslie bass pedals); Francis Thumm (piano, pump organ); Michael Blair (glockenspiel, marimba, drums, percussion); Larry Taylor (acoustic bass); Jay Anderson (bass); Angela Brown, Lynne Jordan (background vocals). Recorded at Sunset Sound and Sunset Sound Factory, Los Angeles, California, and Universal Recording Corp., Chicago, Illinois. FRANKS WILD YEARS by Kathleen Brennan and Tom Waits had its theatrical debut with the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago, Illinois on June 22, 1986. Personnel: Tom Waits (vocals, guitar, organ, Farfisa, pump organ, Mellotron, drums, congas, tambourine); Marc Ribot (guitar, banjo); Moris Tepper (guitar); Ralph Carney (violin, saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone horn); William Schimmel (accordion, piano, organ, pump organ); David Hidalgo (accordion); Greg Cohen (alto horn); Francis Thumm (piano, organ, pump organ); Michael Blair (marimba, glockenspiel, drums, congas, maracas, percussion, bells); Larry Taylor (upright bass); Angela Brown, Leslie Holland, Lynne Jordan (background vocals). Audio Mixer: Biff Dawes. Recording information: Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Universal Recording Corp., Chicago, IL. Unknown Contributor Role: Tom Waits. Ostensibly a "concept" piece about the strange adventures of a ne'er-do-well named Frank, FRANK'S WILD YEARS is an album full of masterfully written songs and brilliant arrangements, whether one follows the conceptual thread or not. This final album in the loose trilogy that began with SWORDFISHTROMBONES expands upon the advances of its predecessors both in terms of hazy, dreamlike imagery and eclectic, exotic instrumentation. Waits is nothing if not theatrical, and he plays a wide range of characters here. On the uproarious "Straight to the Top" he's a gonzo lounge singer. On "Innocent When You Dream" he's an old-world balladeer after too many whiskeys. He dons the preacher's cloak for "Down in the Hole," warning of the devil's powers, and he braves the top of his range for an unearthly shriek on "Temptation." Buoyed by the angular, eccentric accompaniment of Mark Ribot, Michael Blair and others, he rides an oddly wrought, multicolored train to musical glory.
Q (10/92, p.101) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...Sad, delirious, soused and bedraggled by turns...tapped into a timeless wellspring of emotion, illuminating situations you never realized you'd experienced..." Alternative Press (7/95, p.91) - Ranked #57 in AP's list of the `Top 99 Of '85-'95' - "...Tom Waits at his rosiest....The best part about FRANKS is that it [is] no rock record. It's truly a musical with Waits' avant, freakish touch, including the hitting of some off-color notes and Victrola-like warbles to add a touch of dementia to the mix..." Mojo (Publisher) (p.77) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t has genius flashes of dustbowl sadness and swaying valediction..."
Tom Waits started out in the early 1970s as a piano-based barroom balladeer with a penchant for beat poetry and West Coast jazz. By the late '80s he had mutated into a brilliantly adventurous artist whose style suggested an amalgam of Howlin' Wolf, Kurt Weill, and Captain Beefheart. Ever the theatrical figure, Waits also found success as an actor in several films. He's also worked on numerous theatrical/musical projects with avant-garde theater king Robert Wilson. Though generally regarded as a cult artist, he's widely respected, and everyone from Rod Stewart to the Eagles to the Ramones has covered his songs.
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