Tom Waits / Island albums reissued

Classic ‘mid-period’ albums remastered for re-release

The five albums Tom Waits made for Island Records, released between 1983 and 1993, have been remastered and are being prepared for reissue in the autumn of this year.

Waits was on a new label and followed a new musical path for the albums Swordfishtrombones (1983), Rain Dogs (1985), Franks Wild Years (1987), Bone Machine (1992) and The Black Rider (1993). The first three formed a loose trilogy and were some of the most acclaimed records of Waits’ career and exhibited a more abstract, kaleidoscopic, experimental approach to writing and recording. In the early ’90s the material got darker, denser and before becoming an album of songs, 1993’s The Black Rider was actually a play where Waits collaborated with William S. Burroughs and director Robert Wilson (Waits would work with Wilson again on the Alice play of 1992 although it took a decade for the album to see the light of day).

‘Frank’s Wild Years’ is a song (somewhat confusingly) on 1983’s Swordfishtrombones

This was a fertile period, and as ever, Tom Waits’ excellent songs offered material to other performers. To that end, ‘Soldier’s Things’ from Swordfishtrombones was covered by Paul Young on his 1985 album The Secret of Association, Rod Stewart had success with ‘Downtown Train’ (from Rain Dogs) in 1989 and much later various interpretations of ‘Way Down in the Hole’ from Franks Wild Years (including a version by The Neville Brothers) was used as the theme tune to HBO’s acclaimed drama series The Wire.

These five studio albums have all been newly remastered for the first time from the original analogue master tapes and personally overseen by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. They are available on 180g black vinyl and CD. They have been mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering under the guidance of Waits’ longtime audio engineer, Karl Derfler. All the albums are available on 180g black vinyl and CD.

The original version of ‘Downtown Train’ from Rain Dogs

This isn’t quite everything from the Island Records era; there were other long-players issued, namely live album Big Time (1988) and the excellent soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch’s 1991 film Night On Earth (issued in 1992). Presumably we’ll get these at some point.

Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Franks Wild Years are all reissued on 8 September 2023 on CD and 22 September on vinyl via UMR/Island. Bone Machine and The Black Rider follow on 6 October.


swordfishtrombones Tom Waits /

      1. Underground
      2. Shore Leave
      3. Dave the Butcher
      4. Johnsburg, Illinois
      5. 16 Shells from a Thirty-ought Six
      6. Town With No Cheer
      7. In the Neighbourhood
      8. Just Another Sucker On the Vine
      9. Frank’s Wild Years
      10. Swordfishtrombone
      11. Down, Down, Down
      12. Soldier’s Things
      13. Gin Soaked Boy
      14. Trouble’s Braids
      15. Rainbirds


Rain Dogs Tom Waits /

      1. Singapore
      2. Clap Hands
      3. Cemetery Polka
      4. Jockey Full of Bourbon
      5. Tango Till They’re Sore
      6. Big Black Mariah
      7. Diamonds and Gold
      8. Hang Down Your Head
      9. Time
      10. Rain Dogs
      11. Midtown (Instrumental)
      12. 9th & Hennepin
      13. Gun Street Girl
      14. Union Square
      15. Blind Love
      16. Walking Spanish
      17. Downtown Train
      18. Bride of Rain Dogs (Instrumental)
      19. Anywhere I Lay Head


Franks Wild Years Tom Waits /

      1. Hang On St Christopher
      2. Straight to the Top (Rhumba)
      3. Blow Wind Blow
      4. Temptation
      5. Innocent When You Dream (Barroom)
      6. I’ll Be Gone
      7. Yesterday Is Here
      8. Please Wake Me Up
      9. Frank’s Theme
      10. More Than Rain
      11. Way Down in the Hole
      12. Straight to the Top (Vegas)
      13. I’ll Take New York
      14. Telephone Call from Istanbul
      15. Cold Call Ground
      16. Train Song
      17. Innocent When You Dream (78)


Bone Machine Tom Waits /

      1. Earth Died Screaming
      2. Dirt in the Ground
      3. Such a Scream
      4. All Stripped Down
      5. Who Are You?
      6. The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me
      7. Jesus Gonna Be Here
      8. A Little Rain
      9. In the Colosseum
      10. Goin’ Out West
      11. Murder in the Red Barn
      12. Black Wings
      13. Whistle Down the Wind
      14. I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
      15. Let Me Get Up On It
      16. That Feel


The Black Rider Tom Waits /

      1. Lucky Day Overture
      2. The Black Rider
      3. November
      4. Just the Right Bullets
      5. Black Box Theme
      6. ‘T’ Ain’t No Sin
      7. Flash Pan Hunter/Intro
      8. That’s the Way
      9. The Briar and the Rose
      10. Russian Dance
      11. Gospel Train/Orchestra
      12. I’ll Shoot the Moon
      13. Flash Pan Hunter
      14. Crossroads
      15. Gospel Train
      16. Interlude
      17. Oily Night
      18. Lucky Day
      19. The Last Rose of Summer
      20. Carnival

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