In as much as it would be the last release from the band before they broke-up after ten years, albeit the official break-up didn’t happen until some time later.
Pavement never quite hit the heights that many in the music press had predicted, especially back home in the USA where they never made any impact on the charts. It was a slightly different story in the UK, with a couple of Top 40 singles towards the end of their time, while four of their five studio albums all cracked the Top 30 – debut Slanted and Enchanted was the exception, although it has proved to be a consistent seller since its 1992 release, shifting more than 200,000 copies all told.
The band was not in a happy place during the recording of the fifth album, Terror Twilight, and the tensions continued during the six-month promotional tour. It turned out that their final gig was at the Brixton Academy in London in November 1999, by which point co-frontman Stephen Malkmus was barely speaking to the other members. His behaviour at this final gig included attaching a pair of handcuffs attached to his microphone stand an telling the audience that they “… symbolize what it’s like being in a band all these years.” Six months later, amidst all sorts of rumours circulating on the internet, the band’s website was changed to announce they were no more – quite incredibly, at least two of the members only found out this way having not been contacted beforehand by any management or label representatives. It was very very messy.
Thankfully, everyone was able to kiss and make up, with a reunion and shows in America in 2010. It was also planned for everyone to get together in 2020, specifically to perform two 30th anniversary shows at the 2020 Primavera Sound festivals in Barcelona and Porto, but these, like so many other things, were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this stage, Pavement is due to play as part of Primavera Sound’s June 2021 lineup…..
But back to that final EP, one which came with seven tracks and clocked in at not far short of 23 minutes.
Like so many other of their releases, there’s a variety of musical offerings which makes for an interesting listen (if you’re a fan) and a difficult and awkward listen if the band are not to your taste, although I would like to think that everybody will have time for the lead track, an edited version of one of the loveliest songs on Terror Twilight:-
One of the tensions arising from the final album was the reluctance of Malkmus, aided by producer Nigel Godrich, to accept any of songs written by Scott Kannberg (aka Spiral Stairs), which was a radical departure from the previous records. Instead, some of his songs were relegated to b-sides, although he was smart enough to keep what he considered as his best numbers back until his later solo career.
Two of his tracks appear on this EP, recorded completely separately from the sessions with Godrich for the album. The added bonus for fans of an appearance by Gary Young, the band’s original drummer who had been fired back in 1993 when his struggles with alcoholism became too much for the other members.
The next two tracks are very much solo efforts by Malkmus, with one being a demo of the lead track and the other a peculiar number in which he sings in both English and French:-
And finally. From the vaults. Two covers that were recorded for BBC Radio in 1997
The former was in January 1997 for The Evening Session, the show hosted by Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley, while the latter was broadcast in August 1997 as part of the band’s fourth Peel Session; it’s worth mentioning that the band was also part of the events arranged by the BBC to mark Peel’s 60th birthday in August 1999, performing six tracks live at the Maida Vale studios in London.
While both covers have the mark of Pavement on them, it’s fair to say that the Bunnymen take is the more straightforward of the two, perhaps reflecting it was broadcast in the early evening to a younger audience than would normally listen to Peel. Their take on the controversial song by The Fall, which is introduced as ‘an old family favourite’ thankfully strips out the use of the offending ‘n’ word and, as was the case with all Peel sessions, removed any swearing. It’s much slower than the original and until Malkmus utters the words ‘I never felt better in my life….’, most folk would have been hard pushed to recognise it.
I’ve a feeling most of you will hate it……