Filth (Swans album)

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Studio album by Swans
Released 1983
Recorded April 1983 at Vanguard Studios, New York City, United States
Genre No wave[1]
Length 36:50
Label Neutral
Producer Michael Gira
Swans chronology

Filth is the debut studio album by American post-punk band Swans. It was released in 1983, following their self-titled debut EP, through record label Neutral.


Only band leader and vocalist Michael Gira and drummer Jonathan Kane remained from the original lineup of the band. Filth is the first Swans release to feature the experimental and noisy playing style that the band's early work would become known for. The album's distinct sound is partly the product of a new lineup featuring two drummers (Roli Mosimann and Kane). It also marks the first appearance of future Swans regular Norman Westberg.

Release history[edit]

The 1990 CD and audio tape, released under the name Filth (L.P.#1, E.P.#1) 1982/83, featured the four tracks from Swans' first EP as bonus tracks. The order of each side of the Swans EP are reversed on this pressing. The 1990 vinyl re-release preserved the original nine-song track listing.

A double CD re-issue, Filth/Body to Body, Job to Job, was released in 2000 on Gira's label Young God Records. Paired with the b-side collection Body to Body, Job to Job), this pressing of Filth included a 1982/1983 live set from The Kitchen in New York City. This 24:18 long extra track consisted of the songs "Strip/Burn", "Red Sheet", "Blackout", "Clay Man", "Stay Here" and "Weakling". The tracks from the Swans EP were not included.

Filth was reissued on CD, vinyl and digital download formats October 28, 2014.[2] An unofficial repress of the album emerged in 2012, from the record label Neutral. Its inauthenticity has been confirmed by Gira[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau B+[1]
Punknews 5/5 stars[5]
Pitchfork (8.1/10)[6]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau found the album "fun" and described its music as "no wave with five years of practice, too messy for mysticism and too funny for suicide."[1] In their retrospective review, AllMusic's Ned Raggett wrote, "early Swans really is like little else on the planet before or since.".[4] Punknews noted in a similar retrospective review "the terrifying level of intense brutality" the album delivered.

Its deluxe edition also received positive reviews from websites like Pitchfork.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Michael Gira, all music composed by Swans (Gira, Jonathan Kane, Roli Mosimann, Norman Westberg, Harry Crosby).

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Stay Here"   5:44
2. "Big Strong Boss"   3:07
3. "Blackout"   3:49
4. "Power for Power"   6:03
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Freak"   1:15
2. "Right Wrong"   4:48
3. "Thank You"   3:56
4. "Weakling"   5:30
5. "Gang"   3:20
1990 CD reissue bonus tracks (Filth (L.P.#1, E.P.#1) 1982/83)
No. Title Length
1. "Speak"   4:31
2. "Laugh"   4:06
3. "Sensitive Skin"   6:16
4. "Take Advantage"   4:29



Additional personnel[edit]

  • Sonda Andersson – "mechanicals"
  • Mike Berry – engineering

Release History[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog Notes
United States 1983 Neutral Records LP N11 Initial release
United States 1990 Young God Records CD YG 001-2 Included tracks from their 1982 debut EP
United States 1990 Young God Records LP YGLP 1 Some copies were pressed on pink vinyl
United States 1991 Young God Records CS YG 001-4 First cassette pressing
United States 2000 Young God Records CD YG11 Released on the double disc reissue Filth/Body to Body, Job to Job, which also came packaged with the compilation album Body to Body, Job to Job
United States October 28, 2014 Young God Records LP YGLP-11 Comes with a double-sided poster
United States May 26, 2015 Young God Records, Mute Records CD YG48 triple disc reissue that comes packaged with Body to Body, Job to Job, Swans, and various live recordings


External links[edit]