Swans

Swans Are Dead (Live '95-'97)

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Perhaps fittingly, given the huge amount of live CDs and recordings put out by Swans during their lifetime and even after, this, the band's final statement, captures performances from the last two touring lineups of the band, from 1995's Great Annihilator tour (the Mullins/Vudi/Goldring lineup also featured on Die Tür ist Zu) and the last tour from 1997, featuring recent Swans stalwart guitarist Steele, Bill Bronson on bass, and ex-Cop Shoot Cop drummer Phil Puleo on skins. The two-disc set is, unsurprisingly, split between the two lineups. The 1995 disc is taken wholly from a show in Norway, mixing a variety of then-unreleased tunes (including the two lengthy stunners surfacing on Soundtracks, "Helpless Child" and "The Sound," both played fantastically here) with both solo and Swans material. The thoroughly re-worked, Jarboe-sung version of "Your Property," aka "Yrp," gets another excellent airing, while her own track "Lavender Girl" also gets quite a lovely yet disturbing run-through. The 1997 disc, collects tracks from a variety of performances during the tour. Similarly, it mixes newer songs, including Gira's lengthy, style-shifting musical retrospective on Swans, "Feel Happiness," and "New Mother," which would eventually feature in much simpler form as the title track for Gira's Angels of Light project, although here it builds into a roaring, free-form explosion, with solo selections and at times drastically reworked takes on older Swans/Skin material. Most notable are two of the final tracks: a fantastic, utterly horrifying Jarboe-sung version of "I Crawled" from the untitled 1984 EP, and "Blood Promise," originally from The Great Annihilator. Throughout both discs the audiences are loudly and happily appreciative, and understandably so -- they were watching one of the greatest bands wrap up their astonishing career with fire.

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