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Frank's Wild Years CD

74 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, June 1, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

All the voices in Tom Waits' head come out on this CD: the growler (of course), the crooner, the preacher, the screecher, and the Vegas cheese ball. The instrumentation is equally eclectic. (Yep, that's Waits himself playing the "rooster" on the album's best song, "I'll Be Gone.") More memorable moments: "Innocent When You Dream" (both times), the vocal howling at the end of "Blow Wind Blow," and the lovely coughing fit after "I'll Take New York." Frank's Wild Years is the musical remains of a theatrical collaboration between Waits and Kathleen Brennan, originally staged in 1986. It contains nuggets of important practical advice, sure--"never drive a car when you're dead" (from "Telephone Call from Istanbul")--but mostly these songs are fantasy freaks. Frank's is big-time dreamer. It's a dreamy album. Sweet dreams. --Dan Leone

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Hang On St. Christopher 2:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Straight To The Top (Rhumba) 2:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Blow Wind Blow 3:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Temptation 3:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Innocent When You Dream (Barroom) 4:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. I'll Be Gone 3:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Yesterday Is Here 2:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Please Wake Me Up 3:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Franks Theme 1:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. More Than Rain 3:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Way Down In The Hole 3:30$1.29  Buy MP3 
12. Straight To The Top (Vegas) 3:26$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. I'll Take New York 3:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. Telephone Call From Istanbul 3:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. Cold Cold Ground 4:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. Train Song 3:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
17. Innocent When You Dream (78) 3:10$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 1, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Island
  • ASIN: B000001FSR
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,832 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By K. H. Orton VINE VOICE on July 25, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I first heard this back in college. At the time, it blew away antything else I was hearing & I think it single handedly changed my tastes in music. 15 years later I never tire of it. Which is probably why I'm writing this review.

Critics would have you believe this is the third installment of a trilogy that started with SWORDFISHTROMBONES. If anything, it stands as a precursor to the work he later did with Robert Wilson. This album is the music from a performance piece Waits wrote with his wife & collaborator, Kathleen Brennan. It played to sold out performances at the Steppenwolf Theatre in the mid 80's & if I had known who the hell Tom Waits was then, I'd certainly be in the 1st row.

"Hang On St. Christopher" comes off as a reckless itinerary for a fugitive of justice. The sparse use of horns coupled with Mark Ribot's signature guitar aid & abet for a long day's journey into night.

"Temptation" has to be one of my favorite Waits'tunes featuring a demented falsetto & chorus as seductive as the subject matter. If Stephen Foster wrote a song based off William Kennedy's IRONWEED, it might have sounded like "Innocent When You Dream". An undeiable classic, right up there with the likes of "Time " & "Tom Traubert's Blues".

Without a doubt, there's a pervading sense of gloom overiding this album but every song is a gem if you take the time to dust it off. From the drunken "RAWHIDE" trappings of "Yesterday Is Here" to the delerious Film Noir of "Telephone Call From Instanbul" , this album is a virtual mugshot of Waits at his height of his powers. If anyone could write a musical of Eugene O'Neill's ICEMAN COMETH, it's Tom Waits. And I have to say, FRANK'S WILD YEARS is the sonic equivalent. Its certainly one of the most ambitious records of his career. A roadtrip movie for the damned.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By happydogpotatohead on June 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
One of the few five-stars in my book. This was the second Waits album I bought and it has remained with me lo these many years later.
Waits' songwriting has already been rightfully praised by other reviewers. What I want to talk about is the music and arrangements that create the atmosphere that sustains this album. The accordion on "Blow Wind Blow" that sounds like it was lifted straight from a 1930's era Popeye cartoon. The clanking, squawking, grinding guitars and the eerie wobble of the Optigan, a toy organ that Waits uses in ways its makers never intended. (The rooster on "I'll Be Gone" is actually from the Optigan.)
There's more I could mention. The Albert Ayleresque intro to "Temptation." The dark, spare resonance of "Yesterday is Here" which sounds like it's being played by a bum with a broken guitar at a deserted railroad crossing. "Please Wake Me Up," (a plea not to be awakened during a dream) drowned in waves of wobbling pump organ with Waits' vocal sounding as if it was recorded over the phone. The frightful apotheosis of "Straight To The Top (Vegas)" and "I'll Take New York," which sounds like the soundtrack to the crucifixion of a bad lounge singer.
Nothing is normal here, which fits in with the theme of dreams. And underlying everything is the same kind of sorrow that motivates the best American music; the blues, in short. It's about wandering, whether in your mind or in reality or both.
If you have to be lost, it might as well be with Tom Waits, who can tell a shaggy dog story better than anyone.
Tom Waits is an oddity, complete unto himself, and probably one of the greatest artists America has ever produced, although most Americans don't realize it. This is one of his best and most completely realized pieces of art.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By G P Padillo VINE VOICE on October 18, 2004
Format: Audio CD
One of the greatest - maybe the greatest - album Mr. Waits has given us. Scratch that, one of the best albums anyone has given us.

A harrowing, modern opera with a pathetic Everyman for a hero, Frank's Wild Years has been burnt into many of our musical memories for almost 20 years. From initial desperate disappearing act to the giddy leave taking of one's senses, helpless resignation and ultimately tragic denouement this album has haunted me from its first, nearly incomprehensible hearing to today. A remarkable achievement that has not lost a drop of its power or relevance. You're innocent when you dream . . .
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Book Lover on August 26, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I love this album. Tom Waits is a genius in my book. And this is one of my favorites of his. Every song shines with beauty, sadness, and the very essence of life. Each song is different yet they flow together and form a story for all time.

The story is about a man named Frank, and it's a rags to riches kind of story. It starts out this kid named Frank wants to go "Straight up to the Top" and he is very earnest and innocent, because you are "innocent when you dream," and he goes on to face some of life's sadness in songs like "cold cold ground." That is what I love about Tom Waits; that he can paint a story like this through music.

And what music it is! Each song has its own distinct personalty. From a calypso vibe in "Temptation" to a rooster crowing in " I'll be Gone," to even more experimental tracks. Other highlights include "Yesterday is Here," "Train Song," and gosh darnit, every song! So, really, if you are looking for quality music that makes you think and feel, this is it. And if you like this album, Tom Waits has many more that are just as good, and original. A fascinating musical voyage.
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