Swervedriver’s first two albums—1991’s Raise and 1993’s Mezcal Head—are considered stone classics by devotees of Britain’s early shoegazer movement—especially those who recognize that the Oxford-bred band took the non-genre to different places than its contemporaries. Sure, similarities to Ride and My Bloody Valentine abound: Each layered its guitars into a lush swirl of sound. But Swervedriver was always more blatantly influenced by American rock bands, from the early SST stable to The Stooges, whose song “Shake Appeal” provided the name for the earliest Swervedriver incarnation. In other words, where others chose to swim in sound, Raise was all about driving rock, with “driving” sometimes taken literally: “Son Of Mustang Ford” and “Pile-Up” are all about the open road. Mezcal Head came on the heels of commercial success and personal turmoil: The band splintered after Raise, leaving only singer-guitarists Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge. Instead of losing steam, though, the duo set about making something more expansive. In the liner notes to these reissues, each of which contains bonus tracks, Hartridge explains, “We were able to leap from 24 to 48 track, which enabled us to layer even more guitars but also a load of percussive effects.” The change was fairly sharp but also welcome, since Head’s songs, particularly the rocking “For Seeking Heat” and the more contemplative “Harry And Maggie” were some of the sharpest they’d yet written. History hasn’t entirely forgotten Swervedriver, even after two more slept-on albums and an eventual breakup: The band regrouped for a reportedly triumphant tour last year, and someone somewhere still cares enough to give these early records the reissues they deserve.
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