Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cover Art History: Swordfishtrombones

We love when we get the background info to some of our favorite records especially when delving into the Cover Art History behind some iconic albums. Today we learn about Tom Waits 1983 album Swordfishtrombones
Upon finding this fantastic site we learned that Waits commissioned Michael A. Russ to photograph him and the actors Lee Kolima and Angelo Rossitto for his cover. The album was big for Waits being his first self produced effort and Tom, being a very visual artist, needed the cover to represent the music within correctly. The picture shows off an aloof, almost defiant, Waits but in a setting that seems natural to the characters who populate his songs.
The cover shot is a TinTone photo taken by Russ, but that is not where Russ's input ended, you can see more from the photo shoot here and he was also the associate director and choreographer for the music video of "In The Neighborhood" off the disk:

Swordfishtrombones was a clear breakthrough for Waits, noted by Robert Christgau, but we have never considered it one of his best in retrospect. That is the interesting thing about not growing up with an artist, going back and checking out his catalog gives a completely different view.

Our favorites are Rain Dogs and Small Change (as well as Orphans or our Album of the Year for 2011 Bad As Me). In fact we almost focused on Small Change's cover, after all it has one of our all time favorites on that one, Elvira:

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