Frank’s Wild Years
Frank’s Wild Years is a soundtrack to a play that Tom Waits wrote with his wife Kathleen Brennan, based on the song of the same name from Swordfishtrombones. It doesn’t come across as a typical soundtrack, as it’s essentially a group of fully fledged songs, even if a couple are repeated in different iterations. It’s often regarded as part of a trilogy, along with Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs, but I don’t especially see the connection. Frank’s Wild Years has less rough edges than its predecessors, even if it does use similar textures like accordions, and Waits’ voice often has a processed feel that’s different than his usual lugubrious growl. With the smoother feel, I find Frank’s Wild Years less appealing than Waits’ previous Island records, even if it’s another excellent batch of songs.
The most striking track on Frank’s Wild Years is Waits’ Sinatra impression on ‘Straight To The Top (Vegas)’, while ‘Telephone Call From Istanbul’ sets Waits’ rough vocal against middle eastern textures. ‘Hang on St. Christopher’ is an effective opener with its twangy guitar, ‘Way Down In The Hole’ is a memorable piece of gospel, and ‘Innocent When You Dream’ is a pretty, heartfelt closer.
There’s a lot of great material on Frank’s Wild Years, I just don’t find the subdued feel as enticing as Tom Waits’ previous records.