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Feel Good Now by Swans

Feel Good Now by Swans

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Published by Pieter Uys
Review of the 2002 release of Swans' 1987 live album Feel Good Now, by Pieter Uys.
Review of the 2002 release of Swans' 1987 live album Feel Good Now, by Pieter Uys.

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Published by: Pieter Uys on Oct 12, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This live album was compiled from performances during Swans’ 1987 tour of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland.Originally recorded on a Sony Walkman by their sound engineer Jack Balchin and released in 1987, it was remastered and rereleased by Atavistic in 2002.


Studio versions of all these tracks are found on Children Of God, where the astonishing juxtapositions that first emerged on Holy Money and A Screw attain remarkable power.

The evolution of the original Swans sound began in 1986 with Jarboe’s vocals on the Holy Money tracks A Hanging and You Need Me. The same year, her early masterpiece Blackmail appeared on the EP A Screw.

Keyboards, acoustic guitars and gentle vocals become haunting vehicles of the band's eerie sorrow, serving as startling contrasts to the abrasive Beautiful Child and New Mind. Thus the music gains an even more unsettling quality than the relentless industrial grinding and pounding of their 'no wave' beginnings.



On Feel Good Now, the emotional extremes still find expression in ferocity, distortion and volume, as the primal shouts of the introduction indicate. With the exception of Blackmail and Blood & Honey, the fragile songs from Children of God appear with rough edges or in feral form with propulsive rhythms.

However, it's anything but 'Children of God on the crest of No Wave'. Within a framework of pounding drums, swirling keyboards and polyphonic bass/guitar patterns, churning textures arise that accommodate both the bellowing voice of Gira and Jarboe's exquisitely articulated soprano and contralto. Multiple dimensions and an intriguing depth are the result.


Besides Gira’s hollers and howls, the blistering nineteen minute long Blind Love includes roars, bawls, shouts, yells, whoops, and yelps like those of Alan Vega. Categorizing these cries from the event horizons of rage and despair sorely taxes the vocabulary. One of the mutations might be a demented yodel.


Children of God's exquisite Like A Drug becomes a high wired metallic gallop, whilst New Mind gains hypnotic power by its speedier, even tempo and ends as if it were sucked into a black hole. With Jarboe on lead vocals, Blood and Honey's slow pace and droning resonance have a subtly sinister effect. The intro to Sex, God, Sex might be mistaken for a snatch of Edgar Varèse after which it takes a mournful, meandering course, more anguished than angry. In these ten and a half minutes, the male and female vocals weave a spellbinding tension that overpowers the sound of the instruments.

Frenzied drumming opens Beautiful Child where Gira again finds himself in extremis, followed by Jarboe's shimmering Blackmail. She holds the notes towards the end for what seems like an eternity, which adds to the magic.

The intoxicating interaction of female/male vocals returns to adorn Children of God with its dense wall of sound and the spacious Beautiful Reprise Backstab. This 2002 release of the album provides 75 minutes of the band at their ferocious and disquieting best.


Feel Good Now is highly recommended to Swans fans, particularly due to the radically different interpretations of familiar tracks which make it much more than just another "live" album. The overall architecture of its sound resembles powerful tracks like Love of Life, The Sound of Freedom, Power and Sacrifice and the live version of Mother’s Milk from the 1991 ~ 1992 albums.


www.allmusic.com/album/release/feel-good-now-mr0000300463 www.discogs.com/Swans-Feel-Good-Now/release/455235 www.discogs.com/viewimages?release=388700 www.thelivingjarboe.com www.swans.pair.com


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