Swans

Real Love

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    4
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Compiled from a series of dates in Europe from February to April 1986 and originally released as a semi-official bootleg -- much like many of the other similar live recordings from 1985 to 1987 that have surfaced -- Real Love is comparatively shorter than the rest (only six songs long); while perhaps not as essential as either Public Castration or Feel Good Now, it still packs more punch than many another record by anyone else. The sound quality certainly isn't the best at many points, rendering what would be harrowing on a cleaner version more brusque and sometimes hollow sounding here as a result -- the opening track "Coward" might as well have been recorded through gauze. Song selection comes from the contemporaneous Greed and Holy Money releases, though one true rarity, "Sealed in Skin," the B-side for "Time is Money (Bastard)," surfaces here as well, with an even more dour feel to it than the studio take. "Stupid Child" comes off with a good sense of power thanks to a clear Gira vocal, which has a much sadder quaver than many of his other performances. "Money Is Flesh" stands out very well too; Gira sounds at his most brutish as the song relentlessly moves on. The band keeps up its now trademark stomp-and-death-rattle grind very well throughout -- the concluding drumming on "A Hanging" is noteworthy -- but sometimes things veer from mesmerizing to trudging, never the best of situations (sound quality fluctuations during the songs themselves certainly don't help matters any either). Ultimately, Real Love is of interest to Swans fanatics, but not to many others.

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