After several months of transatlantic emails I am delighted to announce that I will be releasing the latest album by one of my favourite artists of all time, “Be My Weapon” (which is David Freel, formerly of Swell).
I first heard David/Swell in the early 90s on MTV in France and was quite surprised to hear that such cool lo-fi sounds were so popular over there, as they weren’t that well known here in the UK. None of us on that holiday knew who they were. And 2 of the people I was with were Sub Pop disciples and fans of any obscure American stuff you care to mention.
Upon my return from France I was happy to find 3 albums already released here on Beggars Banquet. I bought them all and quickly spread the word to all my friends and acquaintances, who also ended up loving Swell. But the band didn’t really garner the attention they deserved here. My circle of friends, and the media were the only 2 groups I knew that seemed to know them. And the media really loved them. Here’s a really early one from their second album, Well:
There was something so different about them. When grunge was really going up its own arse and everyone wanted polished, massive sounding recordings, this band sounded like they were taking it easy, playing acoustic guitar, smoking pot and recording themselves without too much regard for what was going on. No regard at all actually. I later learned (many years later, actually) that indeed they had recorded the first three albums themselves on a Tascam 38 tape recorder and licensed the music out to labels, retaining control. Real indie at a time when indie was actually at its most fake (it felt like big labels wanted indie bands, and to get them with any credibility, they were either buying or setting up ‘indie’ labels).
Swell remained on Beggars Banquet over here up until 2003. In the States they were licensing to Rick Rubin’s Def American Recordings in the early days but Rubin declined to release possibly their most popular album, “Too Many Days Without Thinking”, on the basis that it was not commercial enough. This and “41″ were my two favourites. For 90s indie geeks, please note that “Too Many Days Without Thinking” was co-produced by Kurt Ralske of Ultra Vivid Scene, another favourite artist of mine from that era.
After this they seemed to trundle along, always producing good albums but not becoming rich and famous, which seemed to be OK with them. David Freel eventually left the band and put out an album under the name ‘Be My Weapon’ and thankfully there was no significant change in direction. Like how Smog became Bill Callahan for no apparent reason, Swell became Be My Weapon. But the music still sounds like Swell. Fucking ace.
So on March 30th I have the honour of releasing Be My Weapon’s second album ¡¡Greasy!! on vinyl and CD for the European market. The vinyl will be a multicoloured translucent heavyweight beauty. Here is a track off the album for your consideration.