Franks Wild Years

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Franks Wild Years
Franks cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 17, 1987
RecordedUniversal Recording, Chicago, Illinois,
The Sound Factory and Sunset Sound, Hollywood, California
GenreRock, experimental
ProducerTom Waits
Tom Waits chronology
Rain Dogs
Franks Wild Years
Big Time
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[2]
Los Angeles Times2.5/4 stars[3]
Mojo3/5 stars[4]
Q4/5 stars[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[6]
Uncut4/5 stars[7]
The Village VoiceB[8]

Franks Wild Years is the ninth studio album by Tom Waits, released 1987 on Island Records. Subtitled "Un Operachi Romantico in Two Acts", the album contains songs written by Waits and collaborators (mainly his wife, Kathleen Brennan) for a play of the same name. The shared title of the album and the play is an iteration of "Frank's Wild Years", a song from Waits' 1983 album Swordfishtrombones.

The play had its world premiere at the Briar St. Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, on June 22, 1986, performed by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Various versions of "Way Down in the Hole" were used as the theme music for the HBO series The Wire, including Waits' original version for the second season. The songs "Temptation" and "Cold Cold Ground" were used in Jean-Claude Lauzon's film Léolo (1992). "Cold Cold Ground" was also used in the series Homicide: Life on the Street. "Temptation" and "Straight to the Top (Vegas)" featured in the film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005), and "Innocent When You Dream" featured in the film Smoke (1995).[9]

Chart information[edit]

Chart Peak position
Switzerland 14
Billboard 200 115[10]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Tom Waits, except where noted. Recorded by Danny Leake and Biff Dawes. Mixed by Biff Dawes at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, California.

Side one
1."Hang on St. Christopher" 2:46
2."Straight to the Top (Rhumba)"Waits, Greg Cohen2:30
3."Blow Wind Blow" 3:35
4."Temptation" 3:53
5."Innocent When You Dream (Barroom)" 4:15
6."I'll Be Gone"Waits, Kathleen Brennan3:12
7."Yesterday Is Here"Waits, Brennan2:29
8."Please Wake Me Up"Waits, Brennan3:36
9."Franks Theme" 1:49
Side two
1."More Than Rain" 3:52
2."Way Down in the Hole" 3:30
3."Straight to the Top (Vegas)"Waits, Cohen3:26
4."I'll Take New York" 3:58
5."Telephone Call from Istanbul" 3:12
6."Cold Cold Ground" 4:07
7."Train Song" 3:20
8."Innocent When You Dream (78)" 3:08


  • Jay Anderson – bass (#8)
  • Michael Blair – drums, conga, percussion, maracas, marimba, orchestra bells, glockenspiel (#1-4,6,10-14)
  • Kathleen Brennan – vocal arrangements (#4)
  • Angela Brown – background vocals (#11)
  • Ralph Carney – saxophone, baritone horn, violin, tenor saxophone (#1-2,4-6,8,10-13,17)
  • Greg Cohen- bass, alto horn, horn arrangements, Leslie bass pedals (#1-6,10-14,16-17)
  • David Hidalgo – accordion (#15-16)
  • Leslie Holland – background vocals (#11)
  • Lynne Jordan – background vocals (#11)
  • Marc Ribot – guitar, banjo (#1,4,11,14)
  • William Schimmel – piano, pump organ, accordion, Leslie bass pedals, cocktail piano (#1,2,5-6,10,12-13,17)
  • Larry Taylor – bass, upright bass (#2,7,8,15)
  • Moris Tepper – guitar (#4,6,10,14)
  • Francis Thumm – prepared piano, pump organ (#3,10)
  • Tom Waits – vocals, pump organ, Optigan, guitar, vocal stylings, rooster, piano, Farfisa, Mellotron, drums, conga, tambourine
  • Izzy Stradlin – unconfirmed appearance on rhythm guitar

Critical reception[edit]

The album ranked number 5 among "Albums of the Year" for 1987 in the annual NME critics' poll.[11]


  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Franks Wild Years – Tom Waits". AllMusic. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  3. ^ Cromelin, Richard (August 30, 1987). "Waits: Dreamlike, Distant". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  4. ^ "Tom Waits: Franks Wild Years". Mojo (200): 77. July 2010.
  5. ^ "Tom Waits: Franks Wild Years". Q (73): 101. October 1992.
  6. ^ Coleman, Mark; Scoppa, Bud (2004). "Tom Waits". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 854–55. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  7. ^ "What Is He Building In There..?". Uncut (175): 52–53. December 2011.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 26, 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year: 1987". NME. 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.

External links[edit]