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Somewhere In the Swamps of Jersey

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Album Review

It's an all-too-common occurrence: a band's popularity grows, and as the group amasses a following a few releases after first appearing on the scene, these early efforts are often forgotten. It's not really anyone's fault. Many of these releases and songs just get overlooked and go out of print as a band's style matures, small record labels go under, and crucial pieces of a band's history are lost in the shuffle of faded show flyers and mixtapes. Well, the time has come for Lifetime fans to rejoice. Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is the double-disc set to ensure that this influential hardcore band from New Jersey will no longer be one of these bands, as it's the compilation to fill in the gaps of current record collections. Disc one boasts out of print 7" releases (including their self-titled debut), B-sides, unreleased remixes of various tracks, and a completely remixed version of the band's out of print debut full-length, Background. Disc two is more straightforward, containing a remastered but untouched original version of Background and an additional nine-song live set from July 1992. And with the inclusion of over 50 pages of rare photos, lyrics, random interview excerpts, and some band commentary from Norman Brannon in the liner notes, this collection delightfully chronicles the early work of a band whose influence has been felt much longer than it was even together — a mere seven years. Listening to either disc, it soon becomes apparent that much of this collection catches a band near its infancy still honing its sound. And while the songs are rawer, less pop-oriented, and a bit more samey sounding than their future work, their earnest lyrics are intact from the get-go ("Hardcore is not a background beat for you to move your dancing feet/It's feeling living breathing/It's the life for those who love living" from "Background"). But hey, every band has its roots where even the most passionate songs are still far from perfect. The tunes gathered from the archives and presented here, however, are still hardcore blasts of emotion that aptly lay the foundation and serve as a primer to the music Lifetime would produce later. As such, while you may not really need additional remixed versions of the Background songs on disc one, Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey presents an important piece of Lifetime's career and is a must-have for any fan.

Customer Reviews

Soundtrack of my youth

The remix of the Background LP is excellent, worth the price of the discog alone.


Formed: 1990 in New Brunswick, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Cult favorite melodic hardcore unit Lifetime was formed in New Jersey in 1990 by singer Ari Katz and guitarist Dan Yemin. Boasting a positive lyrical approach in stark contrast to the cynical mentality predominant throughout the hardcore community of the period, the group earned immediate fame with the 1991 release of its self-titled debut EP, issuing the acclaimed full-length Background the following year. After countless lineup changes, the Lifetime roster stabilized prior to the release of their...
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