To coincide with Sub Pop Records 20th anniversary celebration this weekend, revolving around a two-day outdoor concert festival in Seattle’s Marymoor Park (aka West Seattle Summerfest), I have decided to dedicate this weekend’s posts to, you guessed it, some of the label’s more far flung heyday acts. And what better way in the whole wide world to kick this off than with the little known Swallow.Almost simultaneously releasing their debut album with soon to be heavy hitters Nirvana and Mudhoney, Swallow’s lack of presence (at least in U.S. record stores) was astonishing, given they should have been the single most representative band of the late ‘80s grunge du-jour. According to their lengthy Allmusic bio, the Seattle-based (naturally) Swallow were never a priority for Sub Pop, to the extent that their sophomore album, 1990’s Sourpuss, was puzzlingly released in Europe exclusively. In fact, their self-titled debut was also something of an other-side-of-the-pond priority, being co-opted by Sub Pop in the States and the nascent Tupelo Records in London England. Band infighting and dwindling potential for anything approaching recognition, let alone success, spelled the kiss of death for Swallow, coincidentally just as Nirvana’s Nevermind had peaked in early 1992.Swallow’s take on so called “grunge” drew from punk more than metal, and unlike contemporaries Soundgarden and Skin Yard, Swallow didn’t take themselves as seriously. While not entirely frivolous, and in fact, rarely silly, Swallow’s heaving power chords, and low-end rhythm section collectively wrapped themselves around tales of debaucheristic escapades, and ruminations on corpses…and bodily fluids. Not nearly as intimidating as it might sound, I assure you.
I have uploaded the aforementioned pair of Swallow albums in their entirety from CD, not vinyl, and as far as I know Wilfullly Obscure is the only blog that has undertaken such an endeavor (Lamestain’s tribute to the band is informative as well). There’s some excellent music here, and a lot more melodic than you might expect.
An album’s worth of unreleased Swallow recordings from 1990, Teach Your Bird to Sing, was issued in 2007 on Flotation Records. The band will be making a reunion appearance at one of this weekend’s kickoff events. Word. Rod Moody, Swallow singer/guitarist, has also prepared this 'lil write-up.
Please note, this is not the same Swallow as the shoegazer-lite act on 4AD Records that existed contemporary to their Seattle counterparts.
plus special for you:
09. Home (cd-only bonus track)
10. Trapped (from Fuck Me I'm Rich compilation)
03. Sex Pig
06. Take Me
10. In Effect