Top Tens: Swans, The Angels Of Light, Michael Gira

After Friday’s post on the new album The Glowing Man by Swans it’s a good time to revisit all of Michael Gira‘s past work up to this point in time. It’s not just all Swans albums here too, I’ve just got to included The Angels Of Light albums and one of his solo/collaborations under his own name. This idea is just for me to name my fave albums of an artist in my own list of ten which I listen/enjoy the most, isn’t anyone else other than me and my opinion. I have done so far posts like this on Prince, Radiohead and Einstürzende Neubauten. Everyone has fave albums by this or that artist, these are my ones from all of the albums Gira has worked on over the years. Maybe it would be good for a new comer to the music to use as an intro guide but maybe not, I don’t know?

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1. Swans’ To Be Kind (2014) just has to be at the very top of my list, it’s most likely one of my faves from this decade so far too! Most reunions are just really bad and it’s for nostalgic reasons like playing the old songs but this Swans reunions, the new is such much better than old. Five tracks each over two disc is just some of the most unbelievable music ever made and not a bad song on it too. I could just write out the whole track listing because I couldn’t possibly pick any songs over any other ones. I really have to write alot more about To Be Kind album at a later date.

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2. Swans’ The Seer (2012) was made just before the last album above so that’s two epic, monster albums in a row. These two just have to make up my the top two, no questions asked. In between these album I got to see them live and I need to write more about that too but quickly here, the setlist was made up of mostly tracks from these two albums. Oh my god how totally amazing it is to see Swans live too. It’s one the main reasons to love The Seer/To Be Kind but so they both stand only as great albums. This is first double album of three in a row now. Once again it’s just to hard to name any songs over others really both albums should be listen to as one whole body of art.

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3. Swans’ Love Of Life (1992) is the early 90’s masterpiece and pretty much my intro to them too, I still remember seeing the video clip of that title track at something like 3AM in once morning back then. That as the pretty much the brilliant opening song on this album too would have one best ways to start any album of all-time, it’s such a classic now. The rest of the album is just totally classic Swans too so after those two above this is the one I throw on the most. I should really write more about this album at a later date too.

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4. The Angels Of Light’s How I Loved You (2001) really has to be in my top four. Some just skip all these album and go to the new or the old Swans but your really missing out on some of Gira’s best work. Coming a few year after the break-up of that band and Gira now playing acoustic guitar and the band labeled as a folk band, could he have gone soft? No because tracks like My Suicide, Public Embarrassment Blues, Song For Nico and New City In The Future plus the opening song Evangeline and closing Two Women it’s just to great to miss. Not to repeat myself but I could write so much more about this one too.

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5. Swans’ Filth (1983) is the insane debut album which make almost all others look lame and boring. Just has to be at number five in my list. Swans early days are just totally crazy intense so be warned if you’ve never heard them before but it’s some most amazingly harsh music you’re likely to ever listen too. The reissue last year turn it into a 3 CD’s which included everything for around the same time that was recorded which is amazing collection and beyond any words I can write here.

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6. Swans’ White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity (1991) came out the year before Love Of Love which is yet another great double in the back catalog but Filth and How I Loved You just have to be before this one in my top ten here. They kind-off goes together Love Of Love and this, both also was reissued together last year again and turn into 3 CD’s set now. I loved these early 90’s years of the Swans, really could have just gone with the Various Failures comp album because covers some what of the same ground but it’s got be the two albums here.

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7. The Angels Of Light’s Sing “Other People” (2005) is the fourth album by them and then two more albums came before the Swans rose from the dead. I totally love this and well, How I Loved You as two best albums for them, very under rated albums too. I guess all The Angels Of Light are under value but these are my picks of them of all. With the tracks My Friend Thor, My Sister Said, To Live Thorough Someone, Purple Creek plus once again the killer opening and closing songs Lena’s Song and Jackie’s Spine you really can’t miss it.

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8. Michael Gira/Dan Matz’ What We Did (2002) is yet another that’s passed over too offend and should been shown some more love really. It’s just these two as a duo playing and singing everything. His bands have had very large number of members over the years and this is just putting it back to just two. His solo recording are pretty good too but in almost just the demos for the bands, not all but alot. Here the songs are stripped back much simpler with just the duo but just stand up everything else he’s done. That’s Dan Matz on the cover but Gira is on the back with the track listing and bar code.

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9. Swans’ Cop/Young God + Greed/Holy Money (1986) is what follows after the Filth. It’s maybe not as totally full-on as the debut but they do develops as a band here but it’s just not as strong as that’s why it’s down here. It still makes it into my ten and there is so much more left out that didn’t make it so it still is great, wicked. This takes in more that just one album, it’s everything E.P.s/Albums from 1984 to 86 and was original released in 1999 as this double disc reissue. I’ve got to say now the song called Coward made it in to that setlist in 2013 so that’s yet another reason why it’s here too.

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10. Swans’ My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky (2010) just slips in to the ten as the last one to make the cut. It’s been said before it’s more like the last Angels Of Light album but it does have that Swans name on. I’ve been enjoy this later version of the Swans the most so I just got to included it here in my top ten. Unlike the another three albums released after it which are all double albums, this is only eight tracks on a single disc. It has the songs No Words/No Thoughts, Reeling The Lairs In, Jim, You Fucking People Make Me Sick so it makes for a great comeback album.

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So here’s the best image of the Swans I’ve found, well it just could be the strangest band photo I’ve see in a long time. All of them sitting in a swimming pool from only a couple of years ago. Gira is in the big cowboy hat right in the middle but left to right it’s Norman Westberg, Phil Puleo, Kristof Hahn, Gira, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica.

So what do you think about my top ten? What’s yours?

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