Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Bottom of The Box (aka the Discs of Shame)

Break out the party hats. I don't have a party hat so I'll just wear a baseball cap or something. Better yet break out the beer.

I have reached the end of liquor-booze-box-full-of-records # 1! Long live box number 1 (started in May 2004). But first I must don my hairshirt.

Here are four discs I "never got around to" digitizing... some were easy throw-outs, others took multiple listens until I finally thought "what was I thinking in [buying|keeping|not trashing] this disc long ago." These are even worse than Pillsbury Hardcore, Legendary Pink Dots or Jethro Tull's Christmas single.

So without further delay, I present the bottom four! And I move onto a new box today...


SWANS - "I Crawled" EP. Swans were probably best remembered as a great live group but often didn't click in the studio - perhaps M. Gira was a bit of a control freak and hampered the angry spirit that seemed to set this group on fire. I have read that Jarboe was present at this session but not yet a member of the group. Too bad, as her influence seemed to bring out the best in their studio recordings. Someone else wrote it best about "Raping a Slave" (and I would say the other cuts on this record): "I have no idea why this one is often called the quintessential, or the best, Swans song: probably exactly because of the fact that it's just a bunch of incoherent noise boasting even worse production than usual (on this version, anyway). My tolerance really doesn't amount to stuff like this, which essentially just bores me and certainly doesn't prove to be demonstrating the band's talent at all. The only good thing about it is that it really helps highlight the more "melodic" stuff."

Nice typography, though.




CHANNEL RATS / RAF GIER Split LP (distr by Ladd-Frith). Music that was apparently borne in a random German beerkellar as a tribute to American/British punk. It should have stayed in the cellar. Even if it is a nice cellar.






JOE WALSH But Seriously Folks, Warner Brothers (1978). I guess I liked Walsh because he wrote politically incorrect letters to Rolling Stone about bombing Iran at a time when Grandaddy Greil urged caution. I was kinda bummed when he joined the Eagles, my most hated hippy group and they have sort of turned him into the generic blob non-entity that he is today. I think I spent more time with this album not because I liked it so much but the drum parts were kind of interesting to learn. It was an interesting listen - Walsh's self-depreceating humorous take on being a California rock star (of sorts) wears well but the plodding, pre-Eagles music really doesn't. It doesn't help that many of the songs from this have been staples on "Classic Rock" radio - which during the '80s and early '90s was the bane of all of our existences, inescapable as it was in the Mall food courts, the Bennigans and other assorted Hippy Parent hangouts. Still, great cover concept that predates Nevermind.

METALLICA - Garage Days Re-Revisited - the $5.98 EP (no image provided pending copyright dispute with band). Here Metallica crucify - I'm sorry -- Metallicize a handful of otherwise harmless old British New Wave Metal (Budgie!) or American Punk (Misfits) turning them into, well, songs that sound like nearly every other Metallica song. They offer no apologies and broker no criticism for their heresies - saying in the liner notes that it is all in fun after all. If that's so, can I have my $5.98 back now? And Dave Mustaine seriously wanted to be part of this? I tried to say something nice about each record on the tail end of the paragraphs above but seriously, I can't think of one thing nice to say about this.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recall the first time I heard this record, probably in '86 or '87. It was painful to listen to, in spite of my tastes for the likes of Foetus and Big Black at the time. But I was fascinated by it nonetheless. I've used it to clear out parties that ran too long, and occasionally play it at work when I'm pissed at my assistant. As for Swans' complete works, I find it more interesting then the $ records, but not as powerfully bleak and hopeless as anything from Children Of God onward.

Seb said...

Seeing song titles like "Raping a Slave" makes me laugh now that we live in a world where Anal Cunt is harmless (albeit dirty) fun and some of the most cutting political satire comes bearing the banner headline, "I Just Wish I could Stop Shitting Blood."

It makes me wonder just how sensitive were people back in the '80s that Prince shocked the PMRC into existence, no one laughed when Axl Rose claimed "they're out to get me!", and Steve Albini was almost considered a terrorist. Honestly, I was too young at the time, so I'm damned curious!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the other three, but that Swans EP is damn cool. The drumming's just incredible (you try playing such odd beats so slowly w/o speeding up one iota). "This is Mine" has an amazingly cool lockstep waltz beat. In all fairness, Gira can be a little hard to take seriously, but he gets the job done and he's no cornier than Ozzy.

If you quit thinking of this stuff as "dark," "depressing," "industrial," "shocking" or "noise" and start thinking of it as "great hard rock" (i.e, a slowed-down, unfunky heir to Sabbath), you might begin to see it's appeal. It is, at very least, a useful aid for weightlifting.

For what it's worth, I think the EP is much less dated sounding and better produced than Children of God (the rockers like "New Mind" and "Sex, God, Sex" sound great, while the gothier "pretty" stuff has aged poorly).

Jim H said...

Swans were one of the most exciting live bands I ever saw so I suppose that's why I found this EP (which came out in the same year as when I saw them live) didn't do it for me and still doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Well, compared to the rest of Swans' studio output, I still think Filth, Cop and the EP hold up best.

But I guess I see your point about comparing it to live performance . . . I was too young to check Swans out in 1985. I did see them right before they became (in my opinion) totally useless at the end of the '80s, and even then, they were an outstanding live band. Next gig I saw was in 1992, supporting the not-so-hot Love of Life album. But the gig--at CBGB--was amazingly powerful, nothing like the LP. And those two final Swans tours in the late '90s were also incredible and better than the concurrent records (even though the last two studio albums are decent). So yeah, there's probably no comparison between the Raping a Slave EP and Swans' 1985 club dates. But it's still a decent record, I think.

And oh yeah, I also like the Killing Joke cover from that otherwise dreary Metallica EP. (Aside from a few tunes on the first album, time hasn't been all that kind to Killing Joke, either..)

Anonymous said...

congrats on reaching the end of "box 1" -- i enjoy checking in on this blog frequently. mitch

Anonymous said...

Honestly, you're absolutely right about the studio version of "Raping a Slave". The live, pre-EP version, however, is very cool and actually, at least vaguely, melodic. And it is true, live versions of stuff like "Children of God" (has both Jarboe and Gira vocals) definitely surpass their live work.

If you want truly amazing Swans, try these: "God Damn the Sun", "Blood Promise", "Telepathy", "Sex, God, Sex", "Fool", "Helpless Child", "I Crawled (Jarboe version)", "Miracle of Love", "Hiflos Kind", "Sensitive Skin", "Time is Money", "Killing for Company", "Love of Life".

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Meant "definitely surpass their studio work".

infernal doom fanatic said...

Swans "Raping a Slave" the worst?
You sir are truly a douchebag.....

Anonymous said...

You should reconsider and post that Channel Rats/Rafgier split. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey

I was the singer of the channel rats.