I’ve been listening to a lot of Swans since naming them the champeen of the Secret Bands Project. I’m enjoying the new luxury of having enough memory on a computer to be able to load songs into the machine to make play lists for easy entertainment while I’m typing. Going through my entire Swans collection, here’s what I picked for my Definitive Master Mix (including some key solo and side project works), in case you’re thinking about exploring them yourself. The list is roughly in chronological order. There are a few albums and EPs that aren’t represented at all here: Swans EP, Cop, Young God EP, The Burning World (from the studio) plus several live albums (Omniscience, Kill the Child, Public Castration is a Good Idea, Real Love, Feel Good Now, Anonymous Bodies in an Empty Room). It’s not that there aren’t good songs on those records, it’s just that the depth of quality in the Swans canon is such that to pick one song from each of those records just for completeness’ sake, while knocking off a better song from a better album, seems like a wrong-minded way to make a recommendation. But if you want to know the best tracks on those records, I have ’em all, so I can steer you right.

“Thank You” (from Filth, 1983)

“Fool” (from Greed, 1986)

“Stupid Child” (from Greed, 1986)

“Time is Money (Bastard)” (single, 1986)

“A Screw” (single, 1986)

“A Hanging” (from Holy Money, 1986)

“New Mind” (from Children of God, 1987)

“Like A Drug” (from Children of God, 1987)

“Trust Me” (from Children of God, 1987)

“Love Will Tear Us Apart (Jarboe Version)” (single, 1987)

“Blood on Your Hands” (from the Skin album Blood, Women, Roses, 1987)

“Black Eyed Dog” (from the World of Skin album, Ten Songs for Another World, 1990)

“Better Than You” (from White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, 1991)

“Failure” (from White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, 1991)

“Red” (from Jarboe’s solo album, 13 Masks, 1992)

“Love of Life” (from Love of Life, 1992)

“The Other Side of the World” (from Love of Life, 1992)

“Blind” (from Michael Gira’s solo album, Drainland, 1995)

“I Am The Sun” (from The Great Annihilator, 1995)

“Celebrity Lifestyle” (from The Great Annihilator, 1995)

“Mother/Father” (from The Great Annihilator, 1995)

“Mind/Body/Light/Sound” (from The Great Annihilator, 1995)

“The Great Annihilator” (from The Great Annihilator, 1995)

“Volcano” (from Soundtracks for the Blind, 1996)

Swans did a great job with a CD reissue series a few years back, so many of these things are readily available from either Swans own official website or the Young God Records web site or The Living Jarboe site, along with plenty of excellent post-Swans work from the principals. Go! Shop! Listen! Learn!

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