Rainbirds - (Instrumental)
Label: Island Records
Waits' debut LP on Island was a self-produced effort, making the imaginative Swordfishtrombones more akin to a lost Beefheart session than the piano-based howling of yore. The monologues, like "Frank's Wild Years," shed the barfly persona for Dada flair, though when the songs get a touch more cogent -- as with the hammering "16 Shells from a 30-6," or with swampy jives like "Down, Down, Down" or "Gin Soaked Boy" -- they remain as bizarre as all get-out. Introductions to Waits' late-career surrealism abound, so buckle up: it's a truly wild ride.