Some of favorite music reviews address early Swans:
Play the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" at half-speed — go ahead, do it — and you've got Swans plus a sense of humor and the possibility that, if you just adjust the speed control, everything will get good. Take away the sense of humor and the speed control, and you've got Swans. In all probability, you've also got either a high threshold for crunching pain or a splitting headache. Well, that's Swans: downtown New York arties, friends of the infinitely more imaginative Sonic Youth. Swans trudge through dragging tempos, 2/2 meters and low frequency mush, all the while howling about alienation and despair. Listening to their records isn't like banging your head against a wall; it's like banging your head against the side of a swimming pool — underwater.
(from The Trouser Press)
With percussion techniques borrowed from the scrap industry and a guitar bottom that lows like mechanical cattle and howls like the wind in a zombie movie, this is no wave with five years of practice, too messy for mysticism and too funny for suicide. In the great tradition of their live sets, it gets wearing, and lyrics are available to suckers on request. Not only isn't it for everybody, it isn't for hardly nobody. I think it's a hoot.
The best version is on "Live at the Speed Trials" which has a lot of other good stuff.
(I read Christgau obsessively but always found him incredibly annoying.)
I hate Christgau; he gave Slint's Spiderland a C+ yet he gave Souljaboytellem.com an A-. What the hell is that? Am I missing something about his rating system? Piero Scaruffi is way better.
Rating wise, Christgau is a contrary indicator. Some of my favorite albums get his lowest reviews (see Cocteau Twins or Throwing Muses reviews for examples). But he's sometimes fun to read, as a smart guy with stupid taste.
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