Tom Waits, Franks Wild Years

Sam Adams

By Sam Adams

on 10.24.11 in Reviews

Franks Wild Years

Tom Waits

Soundtracking a theatrical production authored with wife Kathleen Brennan, Franks Wild Years (subtitled “un operachi romantic in two acts”) is a travelogue shadowing the titular figure — presumably the fugitive furniture salesman of Swordfishtrombones‘ “Frank’s Wild Years” — on a shambling journey round the world. In the context of a bona-fide stage show, Waits’s Brecht-Weill fixation is in full bloom, with eccentric keyboard instruments like pump organ and Optigan echoing the hurdy-gurdy of The Threepenny Opera‘s “Mack the Knife.” Although there’s substantial stylistic overlap with its predecessors, Franks truly stands on its own, or at least it did until The Black Rider came along six years later.