Not to be confused with the later California death rock band of the same name, The Phantom Limbs were an indie-label rock combo from Tucson, AZ, influenced primarily by Bob Dylan and The Violent Femmes, plus touches of new wave and pre-British Invasion rock & roll. Formed in 1982, The Limbs' initial lineup featured guitarist/lead vocalist Jefferson Keenan (whose distinctively high, nasal warble was an important part of the group's signature), bassist Jim Parks, and drummer Andrea Curtis. They moved to San Francisco for a short time to test out the club scene, then returned to Tucson, where Curtis was replaced by Howie Salmon.

On their second trip to San Francisco, The Limbs recorded their debut album, Romance, released on the Modern Masters label in 1983. It received generally good reviews, and the song "Suicide" got a bit of airplay on college radio. During the mid-'80s, Salmon's place at live concerts was often taken by Cheryl Graham, but he returned to the studio with the rest of the band for their second album, 1986's Train of Thought (released by CD Presents and also recorded in San Francisco).

In support of the album, The Phantom Limbs undertook their first official tour, gigging through California, Texas, the East Coast, and even Canada. For the tour, they recruited second guitarist Gene Ruley and drummer Peter Catalanotte, both from fellow Tucson band The River Roses. Afterwards, The Limbs took a hiatus from recording, mostly playing locally with their four-piece touring lineup. A new album, Not in So Many Words, was recorded over 1994 to 1996; after it was completed, Catalanotte retired from the band, returning to play their farewell gig in 1998. Not in So Many Words remained in the can for a few years before finally finding release on San Jacinto in 2000. Jeff Keenan and Jim Parks continue to play in a country-rock outfit called The Fraidycats, in addition to their day jobs as a lawyer and botanist, respectively. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide