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SwansThe Burning World

Genre:Rock
Style:Goth Rock
Year:

Tracklist

The River That Runs With Love Won't Run Dry4:14
Let It Come Down4:28
Can't Find My Way Home4:48
Mona Lisa, Mother Earth4:16
(She's A) Universal Emptiness4:02
Saved4:11
I Remember Who You Are4:23
Jane Mary, Cry One Tear3:51
See No More5:30
God Damn The Sun4:20

Credits (31)

Notes

Intended by all parties to constitute the bands major international breakthrough, The Burning World saw Swans signed with UNI Records (a sub label of MCA Records), for worldwide distribution. The schism between commercial focus and artistic vision however appears to have been too great, and the band was dropped after the album and it’s two associated singles (Saved and Can't Find My Way Home) failed to make the desired impact.

The Burning World was never officially included in the series of retrospective reissues released by Young God Records in the later half of the 1990's, save for a few select tracks that found their way onto the Various Failures 1988-1992 compilation. It only ever resurfaced as part of the strictly limited 2003 release Forever Burned, which featured the whole album, with a few discrete changes, paired with a selection of album and non-album tracks not included on the first versions of Various Failures 1988-1992.

It is worth noticing however that when the album eventually was reissued in its original format in the 2010’s, it was through Universal Music Special Markets and Geffen Records and not via Michael Gira’s own imprint, suggesting that at least part of the reason for it's absence might well be that the phonographic copyrights for the recordings are beyond his reach. Even when it was re-issued onto DSP's in 2024, it was not under Gira's imprint, which makes this even more plausible.

Versions

Filter by
    21 versions
    Image, In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory
    Version DetailsData Quality
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, VinylThe Burning World
    LP, Album
    UNI Records – UNI 601US1989US1989
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, CDThe Burning World
    CD, Album
    UNI Records – 256 438-2 YS, UNI Records – 256 438-2Europe1989Europe1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, CassetteThe Burning World
    Cassette, Album
    UNI Records – unic-601, UNI Records – UNIC 601US1989US1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, CDThe Burning World
    CD, Album
    UNI Records – UNID-601US1989US1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989-05-15, VinylThe Burning World
    LP, Album, Stereo
    MCA Records – MCG 6047UK1989UK1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989-05-15, CassetteThe Burning World
    Cassette, Album
    MCA Records – MCGC 6047UK1989UK1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989-05-15, CDThe Burning World
    CD, Album
    MCA Records – DMCG 6047UK1989UK1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, VinylThe Burning World
    LP, Album
    MCA Records – 256 438-1, UNI Records – UNI 601Europe1989Europe1989
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, CassetteThe Burning World
    Cassette, Album
    UNI Records – 256 438-4, MCA Records – 256 438-4Germany1989Germany1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989-10-25, CDThe Burning World
    CD, Album, Stereo
    UNI Records – UNID-601, MCA Records – 22P2-3025Japan1989Japan1989
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, VinylThe Burning World
    LP, Album
    UNI Records – UNI-601US1989US1989
    New Submission
    Cover of The Burning World, 1989, CassetteThe Burning World
    Cassette, Album
    UNI Records – unic-601, UNI Records – UNIC 601US1989US1989
    New Submission
    Cover of The Burning World, 2000, CDrThe Burning World
    CDr, Album, Unofficial Release
    No Limits Records – none, Yespeace Production – none, Uni Records (2) – 256438-2 YS20002000
    Cover of The Burning World, 2012, CDThe Burning World
    CD, Album, Reissue
    Water – water253, Universal Music Special Markets – B0015553-02US2012US2012
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 2014, VinylThe Burning World
    LP, Album, Reissue
    1972 – if26, Universal Music Special Markets – B0019852-01US2014US2014
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, 2024-04-19, FileThe Burning World
    10×File, AAC
    Geffen Records – none, UMG Recordings, Inc. – none20242024
    New Submission
    Cover of The Burning World, , CDThe Burning World
    CD, Album, Unofficial Release
    MCA Records (2) – DMCG 6047
    New Submission
    Cover of The Burning World, , CassetteThe Burning World
    Cassette, Album
    UNI Records – none
    New Submission
    Cover of The Burning World, , CassetteThe Burning World
    Cassette, Album, Reissue, Unofficial Release
    Digi Music – 166PolandPoland
    New Submission
    Cover of The Burning World, , CDThe Burning World
    CD, Album, Reissue, Repress
    Water – water253, Universal Music Special Markets – B0015553-02USUS
    Recently Edited
    Cover of The Burning World, , CassetteThe Burning World
    Cassette, Album, Reissue, Unofficial Release
    Digi Music – 166PolandPoland
    New Submission

    Recommendations

    Reviews

    • RevGee's avatar
      RevGee
      Edited 10 months ago
      Despite Gira's personal feelings about this record, I love it! It's likely one to *not* clear the room at a party. Yes... Swans dialed it back *a lot* to produce this fine capture of the late 80s/early 90s zeitgeist.

      It has vibes of Leonard Cohen, Dead Can Dance, a well-executed classic rock cover, some Christian imagery sprinkled in, a splash of good ol' hypnotic Swans-ian groove... bam!

      I especially love Gira's vocal over-dubbing on Mona Lisa, Mother Earth; the slight 1950s pop vibe on (She's A) Universal Emptiness; the Cohen-esque The River That Runs With Love...; the melancholy of God Damn The Sun.

      I can see how fans still coming down from Children of God may dislike it... and I just blasted Feel Good Now two weeks ago! Still, The Burning World is a less thundering, yet highly engaging Swans album.

      Agreeing with bertburroughs below, this particular pressing is excellent! I've only heard the CD, but vinyl does it justice. If you want this record, this is the one to buy.
      • bertburroughs's avatar
        bertburroughs
        Very happy with this pressing. Solid vinyl/jacket, high quality images on covers and little to no surface noise on my copy. Sound is good too. I don't have an original to compare it to but it sounds dynamic, has depth and good low end w/ clear high end. Would recommend if you don't wanna pay $50+ for a beat up original
        • Meadows-of-Sonder's avatar
          The best neofolk album ever & one of the best Swans records ever. Fight me over it.
          • overtebrea's avatar
            overtebrea
            Edited one year ago
            Gira, realizing there is no further he can pursue his brutal trajectory after the show-stopping perfection of Children Of God, swings the mad ship in a decidedly more career-oriented direction. The result is a frustrating mixed bag that nonetheless contains some amazing songs under expensive, unnecessarily lush production. One is forgiven for stomping in anger when at the most powerful juncture of the entire record - "She's the last mistake we make" (from (She's a) Universal Emptiness) - the classic, soul cleansing throng-and-bang is faded out as soon as it arrives, leaving you to realize this record is about denial as much as anything else. In a fit of desperation, captain Gira has decided the most sinister card he can play is to NOT give us the violent catharsis we crave. Unexpected move, and well played, monsieur Hanged Man. We are, after all, consigned to suffer as he does, and at this point in the Swans story our leader suffers the pain of misfocus. What we get in return for our patience is about two-thirds an album of solid, mildly heavy folk-goth fronted by the OG bass-baritone of noise rock (Crash Test Dummies would prove in just a couple of years that there is money to made from this strangely soothing, bottom-heavy vocal styling), interwoven with Jarboe's reassuring coo. Of note, the photo montage on the back of The Burning World closely resembles the band pic on the "Sick of Love" single by Christian Death less than two years prior. The latter's post Only Theatre of Pain output almost certainly influenced this wandering period of Swans.
            • joeyms16's avatar
              joeyms16
              how’s the sound quality on this pressing vs. the originals?
              • TeknoPunc's avatar
                TeknoPunc
                Edited one year ago
                I honestly don't understand most of the vitriol I've seen Swans fans hurl at this record over the years. I've just finished the chapter in "Sacrifice And Transcendence" by Nick Soulsby that covers the troubled production of the Burning World, so I can understand why Gira has all but disowned it. But from a listener's perspective, I think it serves as a logical transition from the sounds explored on Children of God to the decidedly more folk/post-rock flavor of their early-90s material. That being said, if you want to hear what this album should have sounded like in an ideal alternate reality, check out the live recording of their performance at Paradiso in Amsterdam 1988. They completely re-worked the arrangements of the Burning World material before heading out on tour and the difference is staggering. Everything is much darker, leaner, and dare I say heavier. The standouts for me are "Jane Mary", "Let It Come Down", as well as Jarboe's unforgettable performance of "Still A Child" from the short-lived Skin project. I know "Public Castration..." is the perennial favorite live recording, but I've come to favor this woefully obscure document of an era that most fans choose to ignore. Have a listen and decide for yourself.

                As an aside: Why on Earth is the genre of this album listed as "Goth Rock"? I'm usually not one to concern myself with genre classifications, but that's an odd choice of a genre to try and pigeonhole this album into.
                • DrippingInsanity's avatar
                  A bit odd, but does side B of anyone else's copy have a bit different matrix? On my copy, the labels on both sides and the matrix for side A matches this version. However, the matrix for side B is UNI-8833-MD1 MASTERDISK M15F1 SM2? The 'F' kind of looks like it could be mistaken for a 7 with a line through it (despite the fact that if it was a 7, it would be facing the other direction). Regardless, it's 100% clear that it reads "SM2" at the end instead of "SM5".
                  • Anthon40's avatar
                    Anthon40
                    Edited 2 years ago
                    Strange how people including Gira dislike this record. As someone said below this turned me on to the Swans. I hadnt heard the no wave noise Swans so to me this was just great American post punk. Dark, alluring, anguished lyrics and vocals, interesting instrumentation and arrangements. I thought this was a fantastic record.
                    • oHTeK's avatar
                      oHTeK
                      Jesus, Mary, child, Jesus, Mary, child...Oh and how painfull must be to blame Mary on the boogie, and for boogie not. Thee who entertained fed up audience!
                      • Cadmium_Red's avatar
                        Cadmium_Red
                        This album gets more grief than it deserves. Bill Laswell's third-world approach to the Swans may not appeal to fans of the group's Cop/Filth brutalism, but people who enjoy of The Bunny Years will find it a welcome addition. Songs like 'Let It Come Down', 'Saved' and '(She's A) Universal Emptiness' are genuine masterpieces of song crafting.

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                        • Avg Rating:4.23 / 5
                        • Ratings:540
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