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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Swans Were Alive
As the other reviewers have noted this double CD is a bit of a mix between a 'Best Of', a sampler and a collection of rarities or B-sides. Why not just re-release the CDs 'White Light..' & 'Love of Life' in their entirety and include the extra tracks as a bonus?

It seems to be a strange decision to concoct this mish-mash of tracks from different CDs, but after...
Published on 17 Feb 2008 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Various Failures
If you're into Swans then you've spent a good number of years hunting down original versions of the seriously out of print albums like The Burning World, White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity and Love Of Lfe. This double album is very possibly the next best thing, and also serves as a good introduction to the band's material circa 1988-93.

As with other...
Published on 3 May 2008 by Replican't


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Swans Were Alive, 17 Feb 2008
This review is from: Various Failures 1988 - 1992 (Audio CD)
As the other reviewers have noted this double CD is a bit of a mix between a 'Best Of', a sampler and a collection of rarities or B-sides. Why not just re-release the CDs 'White Light..' & 'Love of Life' in their entirety and include the extra tracks as a bonus?

It seems to be a strange decision to concoct this mish-mash of tracks from different CDs, but after listening to it for the last few days I have to admit that it does work on its own merit. In fact I'd probably suggest it as a good introduction for anyone who hasn't heard any Swans material before, whilst for those who already own the original LPs/CDs then the B-sides and alternative versions are interesting enough to warrant buying it.

It should be noted that some of the tracks are alternate versions of those on the original releases. Such as:

--'When She Breathes' is slightly different than on 'White Light..'
--'Why Are We Alive?' has a different ending.
--'Song For Dead Time Mg version' is sung by Michael Gira rather than Jarboe.
--'Blind' is just an excellent track taken from 'Drainland'. The CD is worth getting for this track alone.
--'Unfortunate Lie' is a shortened, instrumental version of 'The Most Unfortunate Lie'.
--'Was He Ever Alive?' is NOT an alternative version of 'Why Are We Alive?' but is musically similar to 'You're Not Real Girl' from the 'Children of God' LP.
--'Trust Me' is an alternative (more acoustic) version to the song on 'Children of God'.
--'Will We Survive?' might be slightly different...I'm not too sure.
--'You Know Everything' is an instrumental version of 'You Know Nothing'.
--'Song For Dead Time - J vers' sounds slightly different than the version on 'White Light...'.

There also seem to be different versions of 'Various Failures' as the copy I have differs in the following ways:

Disc 2, track 3 has the brilliant 'The Sound of Freedom' rather than 'Can't Find My Way Home'
Disc 2, track 6 has 'Saved' rather than 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
Disc 2, track 17 ('New Mind (acoustic)')does not exist on my copy.

Still, it's a brilliant CD. Recommended for any Swans enthusiast!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Achievements, 25 July 2008
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: And Various Failures (Audio CD)
This 2-disc compilation draws from the Swans albums Burning World (1989), Love of Life (1991) & White Light from The Mouth of Infinity (1991) plus the EP single Love Will Tear Us Apart (1988), as well as Ten Songs for Another World (1990) by the side project World of Skin. It also includes a few previously unreleased tracks. The music is spread over two discs:

RED DISC

This one opens with Michael's harrowing Failure and is followed by Identity, another strange one with a little boy reciting a weird spiritual poem over riffs rife with minor-chords and snatches of distorted male vocal.

Breathtaking is the word for their interpretation of Steve Winwood's Can't Find My Way Home, hypnotically and spookily sung by Jarboe over eerie instrumentation. Jarboe's version of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart is a further masterpiece.

The haunting Jarboe track Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes is the poem To Celia by Ben Jonson (1573-1637) set to hymnal music. A cursory glance at Jonson's lyrics reveals nothing overtly spiritual; the theme seems to be romantic love. Still, there are ambiguities and the melody undoubtedly originates from the Olde English Hymne tradition. This version has lost its Lord's Prayer ending

One of Michael's moments of extremity is the devastating God Damn The Sun, where he out-Cohens Leonard on a slow, meandering ballad with an achingly beautiful tune. On the previously unreleased Picture of Marianne, he gently interprets this poignant and gentle ballad.

This disc also has Jarboe in oneiric mood appearing as the angel of morphia, luring you into the other-world of the melodious Dream Dream. More of her work with Swans & World of Skin is available on the Mystery of Faith album.

The red disc's total running time is 78:02.

YELLOW DISC

Here one finds the chilling interpretation of Nick Drake's Black Eyed Dog with Jarboe's howling vocals as hair-raising as on Mother Father from The Great Annihilator. Eerie breathing and disembodied electronic barking add another layer of unease; this song makes your hair stand on end. If the Edvard Munch painting The Scream was given a voice, this is exactly what it would sound like.

For merciful contrast, there are gentle ballads with beautiful melodies like The Golden Boy that was Swallowed by the Sea sung by Mike and Jarboe's The Other Side of the World and the achingly beautiful I Remember Who You Are where her voice excels as a vehicle of tenderness, empathy and hope.

On the eerie number Her, Michael's lullaby like introduction is followed by a harsh, atonal & intrusive rock riff that gives way to the voice of a teenage girl talking about summer, her boyfriend Charlie, the Atlanta International & Monterrey pop festivals, musicians like Janis Joplin, The Who, Johnny Rivers and The Grateful Dead, with period radio commercials and static noise in the background.

Michael sings The Child's Right, a desolate ballad about death and decay with hints of religious imagery and Blind that sounds like a take from the Burning World sessions. A moving melancholic ballad, it deals with one of his favorite subjects, alcoholism in lines like" "Because when I'm drinking, I'm out of control/No I was never young, and nothing has transpired/And when I look in the mirror, I feel dead, I feel cold, I am blind."

This much abbreviated version of The Most Unfortunate Lie is deceptively titled "instrumental," as it does contain a few lines of Michael's vocals and the spectral children's voices.

This disc's total running time is 75:52.

The fold-out leaflet contains the lyrics to all the songs plus 5 full-color illustrations by Deryk Thomas. I have deducted one star for important omissions. Various Failures is an impressive achievement but imperfect archive since a few of my favorite songs from the period have been omitted: Saved from The Burning World, The Sound Of Freedom from Love Of Life & Everything For Maria from the 3rd World of Skin album.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed compilation of a truly great band, 6 Feb 2007
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Various Failures 1988 - 1992 (Audio CD)
If ever a band were crying out for the exhaustitive box set treatment it's The Swans( along with Fatima Mansions, Microdisney, The Young Gods, Big Black, American Music Club amongst others) Their two most monumentally brilliant albums "The Burning World" and "White Light At The Mouth Of Infinity " are only available on CD at ridiculously inflated prices and their transition from amoral totalitarian noise merchants to purveyors of luxuriant yet doom laden folkies is one of the most compelling in modern music. This double CD is the only overview of their career, yet it's frustratingly incomplete with some bewildering omissions though this being The Swans the quality quotient is still admirably high.

What are on here are panoramic vistas of "Better Than You ", "Will We Survive" "Why Are We Alive?" "Miracle Of Love" supplemented by plunging bass lines, cavernous percussion, gasping strings and exotic textures. Michael Giras, s portentous stentorian vocals grumble convincingly about tears, blackened skies, and failure. This is not happy music but neither is it laughably grumpy and true beauty is offered by Jarboe who provides sumptuous backing vocals and quite stunning lead vocals on tracks "I Remember Who You Are" and "Can, t Find My Way Home" and in doing so gives a comprehensive lesson to diva warblers on how to sing ballads properly with convincing emotion and feeling.

The omissions are very frustrating .No "Saved" or "The River That Runs With Love It Never Runs Dry" from "The Burning World". No "Celebrity Lifestyle" from "The Great Annihilator ", nor the pounding title track from "Love Of Life". These are surely superior to tracks like "Was He Ever Alive?" or "Identity" and definitely preferable to the various brief instrumental interludes that adorn side one. But Gira is nothing if not perverse and at least the truly glorious "Love Will Save You" and the jaw droppingly bleak "God Damm The Sun" are included. By the way the reviewer who lists the superb "Mona Lisa, Mother Earth" as being on the album is alas mistaken, at least as far as my copy is concerned.

A great band The Swans, but this two disc compilation comes nowhere near encapsulating their brilliance or their diversity .Like I said before a box set really is the only way to do them justice, and one including their Skin incarnation and one including all the horrid -yet sometimes thrilling -early noisy stuff. Until then this album while providing music of breathtaking quality should be considered something of a failure and my tears of frustration continue to fall from charcoal skies.....or something like that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Various Failures, 3 May 2008
This review is from: Various Failures 1988 - 1992 (Audio CD)
If you're into Swans then you've spent a good number of years hunting down original versions of the seriously out of print albums like The Burning World, White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity and Love Of Lfe. This double album is very possibly the next best thing, and also serves as a good introduction to the band's material circa 1988-93.

As with other reviewers, I find that certain omissions a loss to this compilation. I've read enough interviews with Michael Gira or Jarboe to realise that they don't care if you liked a particular song and it isn't here, they're releasing what ones they like and if you don't like that: tough. This also refers to acoustic versions replacing originals on Children Of God - yuck!
Personally, I think this album would have benefited from the full band version of Love Will Tear Us Apart (though Jarboe's effort is brilliant anyway), however what's sorely missing is the title-track from Love Of Life. It's slightly a moot point though, as in place of these album tracks there's a lot of rarities and songs that were b-sides (many on CD for the first time) so we shouldn't really complain... should we?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immensely powerful & profound, 14 July 2000
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Various Failures 1988 - 1992 (Audio CD)
This 2-disc compilation draws from the Swans albums Burning World (1989), Love of Life (1991) & White Light from The Mouth of Infinity (1991) plus the EP single Love Will Tear Us Apart (1988), as well as Ten Songs for Another World (1990) by the side project World of Skin. It also includes a few previously unreleased tracks. The music is spread over two discs:

1 YELLOW DISC

Here one finds the chilling interpretation of Nick Drake's Black Eyed Dog with Jarboe's howling vocals as hair-raising as on Mother Father from The Great Annihilator. Eerie breathing and disembodied electronic barking add another layer of unease; this song makes your hair stand on end. If the Edvard Munch painting The Scream was given a voice, this is exactly what it would sound like.

For merciful contrast, there are gentle ballads with beautiful melodies like The Golden Boy that was Swallowed by the Sea sung by Mike and Jarboe's The Other Side of the World and the achingly beautiful I Remember Who You Are where her voice excels as a vehicle of tenderness, empathy and hope.

On the eerie number Her, Michael's lullaby like introduction is followed by a harsh, atonal & intrusive rock riff that gives way to the voice of a teenage girl talking about summer, her boyfriend Charlie, the Atlanta International & Monterrey pop festivals, musicians like Janis Joplin, The Who, Johnny Rivers and The Grateful Dead, with period radio commercials and static noise in the background.

Michael sings The Child's Right, a desolate ballad about death and decay with hints of religious imagery and Blind that sounds like a take from the Burning World sessions. A moving melancholic ballad, it deals with one of his favorite subjects, alcoholism in lines like" "Because when I'm drinking, I'm out of control/No I was never young, and nothing has transpired/And when I look in the mirror, I feel dead, I feel cold, I am blind."

This much abbreviated version of The Most Unfortunate Lie is deceptively titled "instrumental," as it does contain a few lines of Michael's vocals and the spectral children's voices.

This disc's total running time is 75:52.

2 RED DISC

This one opens with Michael's harrowing Failure and is followed by Identity, another strange one with a little boy reciting a weird spiritual poem over riffs rife with minor-chords and snatches of distorted male vocal.

Breathtaking is the word for their interpretation of Steve Winwood's Can't Find My Way Home, hypnotically and spookily sung by Jarboe over eerie instrumentation. Jarboe's version of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart is a further masterpiece.

The haunting Jarboe track Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes is the poem To Celia by Ben Jonson (1573-1637) set to hymnal music. A cursory glance at Jonson's lyrics reveals nothing overtly spiritual; the theme seems to be romantic love. Still, there are ambiguities and the melody undoubtedly originates from the Olde English Hymne tradition. This version has lost its Lord's Prayer ending

One of Michael's moments of extremity is the devastating God Damn The Sun, where he out-Cohens Leonard on a slow, meandering ballad with an achingly beautiful tune. On the previously unreleased Picture of Marianne, he gently interprets this poignant and gentle ballad.

This disc also has Jarboe in oneiric mood appearing as the angel of morphia, luring you into the other-world of the melodious Dream Dream. More of her work with Swans & World of Skin is available on the Mystery of Faith album.

The red disc's total running time is 78:02.

The fold-out leaflet contains the lyrics to all the songs plus 5 full-color illustrations by Deryk Thomas. I have deducted one star for important omissions. Various Failures is an impressive achievement but imperfect archive since a few of my favorite songs from the period have been omitted: Saved from The Burning World, The Sound Of Freedom from Love Of Life & Everything For Maria from the 3rd World of Skin album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 20 Sep 2007
This review is from: Various Failures 1988 - 1992 (Audio CD)
A collection of tracks covering The Swans finest phase. A must for any fan. No band has ever covered such dark material and yet produced such beautiful and powerful songs.

I was lucky enough to see The Swans live once and was blown away by them. I can also recommend their other available CDs though the noise laden early stuff may not be to everyone's taste.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enter the world of SWANS, 17 Feb 2004
By 
Mr. M. L. Hawes "Mitchmusic" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Various Failures 1988 - 1992 (Audio CD)
Swans were a band who mutated from a wall of slow grinding noise merchants to a band who made some of the most beautiful music of the late 80's to early 90's.
Fronted by the gravel voiced Michale Gira and latterly, the silken tones of Skin (nothing to do with Skunk Anansie), Swans provided an extraordinary sound track to the times.
From the beauty of Mona Lisa, through the utter dispair of Failure, the Swans made simply extraordinary music of immense depth and quality. Sure, there are points where it is far from easy listening, but if you wanted that you'd be buying the Dido album, right?
This is a wonderful introduction to a very beautiful, powerful band. Take the chance, you will not be dissapointed.
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Various Failures 1988 - 1992
Various Failures 1988 - 1992 by Swans (Audio CD - 2005)
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