Swans, "Better Than You"
The late 80s/early 90s vesion of the band is probably the one that is most different from the other iterations. The period began with Burning World, the first (and last) Swans major-label release, which was a commercial disaster and an artistic mess. The other albums of that period (White Light From The Mouth of Infinity, Love of Life, and Ten Songs For Another World which was technically from World of Skin but who cares) were better artistically, but this is kind of the "pretty" Swans period. The albums all went out of print, and stayed that way for a while.
Eventually, when Gira got control of his catalog again, he started putting out reissues of all his records. The early Swans material all got reissued as-is (although grouped together as big releases), but this time period just got a compilation. Pulling tracks from all four albums along with various singles and EPs from the period, Various Failures: 1988-1992 cuts everything back together as a sort of director's cut of what Gira wishes that period of his career was like. Although I own (and like) White Light, the reception of the other records from fans was bad enough that I never listened to the other ones until it was too late to find them.
Overall, the recast songs end up being a pretty coherent record. By picking what he thinks are the best tracks, he was able to maintain a consistent mood across the whole thing. While I wish that the originals were still available for historical reasons, I suspect that I wouldn't listen to them much, and this is probably the best way to experience these songs.
Looper, "Mondo '77"
Love that moment when the drums first kick in over that synth line. A simple pleasure but a real one.
One of the various Ministry clones that popped up in the early 90s, Skrew had everything: the big guitars, the pounding drum machine, the nihilistic ethos...hell, they even had the gnarly spelling of their name. I picked up this album when it came out in 1991, got instantly bored with it, and stopped paying attention to them.
Still not good! By the way, don't confuse this band with Skrewdriver, the Nazi shithead punk band.
Mayhem, "A Wise Birthgiver"
Thoughs on Mayhem, and other thoughts on Mayhem. Mayhem's biography really kind of overshadows things, and it's hard to really write about anything else.
The Aquabats, "Hey Luno"
You know, the Aquabats - shiny, cheerful, tuneful, and relentlessly goofy - might be the opposite of Mayhem. This little trifle comes from their b-sides comp, Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures Vol. 2 (there is no volume 1). It's not a great release, but it's fun. When we hit one of their great albums, we'll go more into the Aquabats.