Concept Albums Explained: Frank’s Wild Years

by Paul-Newell Reaves

You think you know weird?  You don’t know weird till you’ve heard the albums from Tom Waits’ Island Records period.

Famous for his raspy vocal delivery, Waits was mostly a piano-based lounge act before the 1980s.  His lyrics have always been exceptional– on par with Bob Dylan and Patti Smith– and his 1974 concept album “the Heart of Saturday Night” will be covered in another article of this column.

When he signed a recording deal with Island Records, however, he took his music in a very, very different direction.   “Frank’s Wild Years” is the third of five albums recently remastered and re-released by that company, and it  features obscure instruments– a Mellotron, for example– intense rhythmic patterns, and bizarre harmonies and chords that put the most experimental prog bands to shame.

How weird?  We’re about to find out.
(read more)

Winners of the 2024 FLASH SUITE Contest are announced

More Concept Albums Explained,
including The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,
and Bob Dylan’s Highway 61, Revisited

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