The debut release from Pavement is a bit of an oddity.

From Stockton, California, the band was formed in 1988 by Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg, with the legend being that they looked to try to make money from performing at open mic nights, mostly through performing cover versions with the occasional original thrown in for good measure. In January 1989 the duo decided to enter into a local studio with the intention of cutting some tracks for a single, with the $800 costs borrowed from Kannberg’s father.

The ensuing outcome were five, incredibly low-fi tracks, that were put out on an 7” EP, Slay Tracks 1933-69, on Treble Kicker Records, a label conceived and developed by the duo. The pressing was restricted to 1,000 copies with minimalist information about the band, other than a contact address in Stockton, with the and the pseudonyms S.M. and Spiral Stairs being adopted. In later years, the sounds you hear on Slay Tracks would come to be described as slacker, although at the time the music was impossible to easily pigeon-hole.

There’s a very extensive entry for the EP at wiki which draws upon a range of press reviews at the time and subsequently interviews given by the duo to provide an informative and entertaining story. All of the songs were Malkmus compositions and the use of radio static was deliberate as it was seen as the third instrument in top of the guitar anD bass. The use of drums was an afterthought and only came about as studio owner and session engineer, Gary Young, thought they might add something and he ended up adding them to two of the tracks while Malkmus and Kannberg improvised on two of the others. The lead track, however, was entirely drum and percussion free.

It was an EP that, unusually in the pre-internet age, got picked up almost entirely via word-of-mouth through mentions in low-circulation fanzines. It was as much down to the fact that, in an era where image and glossy production were seemingly the be-all and end-all, such a sh!77y sounding recording managed to feel exciting, new and unique. It was punk rock more than 20 years on.

mp3 : Pavement – You’re Killing Me
mp3 : Pavement – Box Elder
mp3 : Pavement – Maybe Maybe
mp3 : Pavement – She Believes
mp3 : Pavement – Price Yeah!

The move from underground to overground, certainly in the UK, came via The Wedding Present namechecking the band in interviews and then covering one the Slay Tracks as a b-side on one of their singles, Brassneck, in 1990, and I’ll come to that in a separate posting quite soon.

All the while, Pavement continued to do their own thing and indeed they weren’t aware that they were being quoted so highly in the UK. They continued to record more low-fi EPs in 1990 and 1991, although there was a gradual expansion into a full band, and in due course a debut LP, Slanted and Enchanted, was released in 1992. Over the next seven years, they would enjoy increasing commercial success without ever really hitting the big-time in any consistent way.

If you want to pick up a vinyl copy of the debut EP, be prepared to fork out something in the range of £150-£200.

Slay Tracks was a hugely influential and important debut single, and to some, Pavement never bettered it. That ‘some’ however, are just muso snobs, for the band would progress on to much better, more listenable and accessible things in the times ahead.




For those of you can’t read my appalling handwriting, the bit of paper in the right hand of Stewart Henderson reads MICHAEL BOYES.

His was the name drawn from the 32 who entered the competition to win £50 of stuff from the online shop at Chemikal Underground. Incidentally, every entrant was a bloke….

I’ve been in touch already with Michael and will also be dropping an e-mail to those who entered but were unlucky in the draw. Stewart has come up with an idea of a consolation prize for all concerned…..

Many many thanks to everyone, and in particular the folks at Chem for supporting the idea for the competition.

Here’s a bit of music non-Chem related, but from a band who would have been a perfect fit for them:-

mp3 : Pavement – Winner of The

Yup, that’s its title.  Winner of The.  It was the b-side to the CD single release of Stereo.



Just Two Guys Messing Around

(An Imaginary Compilation of sorts – Part 3) by Tim Badger

Before I start, I’d like to thank everyone for the kind comments made regarding the last two compilations that I wrote for this wonderful series and I’d like to thank JC for indulging in the nonsense that S-WC and I keep sending him.

There are two guys in the back of my car who are wondering why S-WC and I are sitting in stone silence listening to the last two and a half minutes or so of Ride the Tiger by The Boo Radleys. Then again they have been slightly worried since S-WC and I tossed this morning.

The toss was one of two ‘governing rules’ we have added to our ‘random imaginary compilation’ pick. The toss involved me rolling a dice, if it was even then I would go first, so the first 11th band would be mine.

I roll it’s a four. So I’m up, hence why we are sitting in silence waiting for the Boo Radleys to finish.

The second rule also involved the roll of the dice – evens meant we used S-WC’s iPod and odd meant mine. His iPod has roughly 6000 more tracks on it than mine, and about 2000 of them are by obscure bands who I have never heard of (A Sunny Day in Glasgow, anyone???, No, just him I would imagine). I pray for an odd number….I got another 4. So this really explains why we are waiting for the song to finish. His iPod has been fairly eclectic this morning, we’ve had Sugar, Queens of the Stone Age, Johnny Cash, Hinds (I refer you to obscure band thing about five sentences up) and The Prodigy to name half the bands so far. We did both agree that three of these would make excellent compilations.

The 11th track starts, and within 6 seconds, S-WC says this ‘You lucky bastard’. The 11th track is Pavement and if you think I am making it up – here is a photo (kind of an unwritten rule we have added to show we don’t just make this up as we go along).

imageThe two guys in the back, looked bemused and say, quietly, can we go and watch the cricket now. It is 10.20am. I check my iPod, I have precisely 15 songs by Pavement, then I check S-WC’s – he has 109 songs by Pavement. On the way into the ground, I ask him if I can ‘borrow some Pavement’. He nods, glumly.

The next day at work (the cricket was excellent by the way, over 500 runs scored and 17 wickets went down), he hands me a memory stick with 108 Pavement songs on it (I am unsure which song he left off and why). Good luck he says, it will be very difficult. I plug it in to my computer and start to listen to them. After a while I can categorically say, Pavement are excellent and I am glad that I now own more than 15 of their songs. If you have never listened to Slanted and Enchanted I thoroughly recommend it, followed by Wowee Zowee.

Anyway, here is the Pavement Imaginary Compilation (based on 108 songs that I have listened to no more than 3 times (apart from one) – so there will be obvious glaring omissions and like every other one I have done, very singles heavy and I left out Stereo as JC featured it about three weeks ago)

Side One

‘Texas Never Whispers’ – from Watery Domestic EP

The swirly organ type instrument at the start of the track doesn’t sound like Pavement it sounds very 70s and a bit psychedelic. In fact it sounds like elephants charging. Weirdly this was sampled by Placebo much later on their Black Market Music album. I have an American friend who claims that Watery Domestic is the greatest EP ever released. It probably isn’t but it is excellent.

‘Cut Your Hair’ – From Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

One of the few Pavement tracks to cross over, largely because it’s a bit goofy and a whole load of fun. Although I would imagine that there is something underneath it that is a bit more sinister. This does get lost with absurdly catchy nature of the song – not only do you get ‘oo-oo-ooo’s’ but you get that riff that showed that if they had to, they could make massive pop records.

‘Range Life’

Any song that takes the piss out of the Stone Temple Pilots is alright with me. This is a song about selling out and about street cred. Pavement never caved into the demands of record labels when grunge went boom and suddenly a thousand American alt rock bands landed on these shores. They were and are a better band because of that.

‘AT&T’ – From Wowee Zowee

I included this because I think half way through this Steve Malkmus the singer in Pavement manages to squeeze the word ‘gravy’ into it. I thought that this was impressive and kind of sums up Pavement to me. It’s also a brilliant song.

‘Gold Soundz’ – From Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

This has a retro feel to and is one of my favourite Pavement songs. One of the few I already owned in fact. This is indeed golden and once I heard this song I was hooked. In a perfect world, this record would be played on ALL radio stations at least twice a day.

Side Two

‘Summer Babe’ – From Slanted and Enchanted

One of S-WC’s favourite songs of all time, and it is easy to see why. He said, if I left this out he would never ever speak to me again. It was tempting to be honest (I’m kidding.).  Summer Babe is hopelessly romantic in an indirect way, I love the way there are sideways nods to Ice Ice Baby and the way that the lyrics are kind of drawn out to you, all ‘Shiny robes’ and ‘plastic tipped cigars’. Yet there is the ‘Waiting, waiting waiting’ bit that shows underneath it all it’s still a love song for slackers in lumberjacks shirts.

‘Here’ – From Slanted and Enchanted

Of all the songs, I listened to, that I hadn’t heard before, this was the best and is now probably my favourite Pavement song. Depending on what you think of Pavement and their undoubted legacy, this song stands out above and beyond any other song by them. It is them at their most poignant and vulnerable but still has the normal nudge of humour. “Come join us in a prayer / We’ll be waiting, waiting there / Everything’s ending here,” sings Malkmus in a world-weary whisper. It’s a touching moment and one that shows that despite the irony – there is genius beneath it. I played this song four times in a row after hearing it.

‘We Dance’ – From Wowe Zowee’

We Dance is not an ambitious song, but it is very enigmatic and I think one of the boldest that they have recorded. On the back of ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ Pavement should have returned as megastars in waiting – yet they returned with Wowee Zowee and ‘We Dance’ set the tone for this – almost like a test for fans, ‘if you like us, you will stay with us’.

‘Box Elder, MO’

Box Elder was originally on the band’s debut EP Slay Tracks but I only have it on the Best of Album Quarantine the Past. But it was a statement of intent even then. It showed the gifts that Malkmus had as a songwriter. It showed the band would sing about sentimental things but from a sceptical point of view and that they knew how to grab your attention with a killer tune.

Trigger Cut

“Trigger Cut” is Pavement as their best, lyrically it is refreshingly bizarre, I have no idea what “Lies and betrayals / Fruit-covered nails / Electricity and lust” refers to, but I imagine it would be fun trying to find out.

So there we go. Pavement are ace. I showed S-WC and asked if he would make any changes, he said Embassy Row would be included in his ten – that song was genuinely cut at the last-minute for ‘Range Life’ (and I cut Fight This Generation for ‘Box Elder’). S-WC was right of course, it was really difficult to whittle down to ten tracks. Bloody good fun trying though.

The 11th track game is good fun. It’s really simple, pop your iPod on, when it gets to track 11, stop it, take a photo of the screen, and base your compilation on that band. Whoever it is.

Tim B

mp3 : Pavement – Texas Never Whispers
mp3 : Pavement – Cut Your Hair
mp3 : Pavement – Range Life
mp3 : Pavement – AT & T
mp3 : Pavement – Gold Soundz
mp3 : Pavement – Summer Babe
mp3 : Pavement – Here
mp3 : Pavement – We Dance
mp3 : Pavement – Box Elder
mp3 : Pavement – Trigger Cut

JC adds…….

Since Tim is such a ‘newie’ to so many of the Pavement songs and he’s done such a terrific job in the circumstances, I thought I’d add a couple of excellent covers:

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Box Elder
mp3 : Tindersticks – Here

and round it all off with a very different version of Tim’s favourite:-

mp3 : Pavement – Here (Peel Session)




One of my favourite ever opening lines.

I’m not an enormous fan of Pavement – I sometimes think they were just too clever/deliberately obscure to be entirely loveable – but there’s a fair number of their tunes that have found their way onto the i-pod.

For a short while, it did look as if they would enjoy a fair amount of chart success, with the two singles taken from the 1997 LP Brighten The Corners, getting a fair amount of airplay. I was sure this went higher than #48 in the charts, but that’s what the record books tell me:-

mp3 : Pavement – Stereo
mp3 : Pavement – Westie Can Drum
mp3 : Pavement – Winner of The

And no, I haven’t missed out any words on the title of the last track.

Listening to these nowadays, there’s still a lot to enjoy. It is unashamedly indie-pop that can trace its roots back to the 70s and US guitar bands like Television and Blondie. And while his voice does seemingly get on the nerves on a few folk, I quite like the delivery of Stephen Malkmus.

And yes, Graham Coxon was listening to this sort of stuff a lot as well when he was churning out Blur tunes at the end of the 20th Century.




silver sun front

In 1997, Domino Records tried really hard to make a huge hit of the song Shady Lane by Pavement.

The song had been one of the most popular tracks on the LP Brighten The Corners. Known as Shady Lane/J vs S, it was the best part of four minutes long and as the title suggests, consisted of two distinct and very different bits of music.

It was decided to give the song a subtle remix.  A couple of silent gaps from the original track were eliminated and the remix also saw the new version come to a halt as the last guitar note on Shady Lane was struck, bringing it right down to just over two and a half minutes.

An up and coming director by the name of Spike Jonze was brought in to make a promo and the mult-formatting approach was taken meaning that to obtain all five of the track on the b-sides, fans would need to buy the 7″ vinyl and the 2 x CD singles.

Despite this, it stalled at #40.  Criminal if you ask me:-

mp3 : Pavement – Shady Lane (krossfader)

I only have the second of the CDs in the collection and both of the b-sides are belters in different ways:-

mp3 : Pavement – No Tan Lines
mp3 : Pavement – Wanna Mess You Around

The former is a tremendous if atypical Pavement song (jerky guitars and that fast-slow-fast killer combination) that you find yourself singing along to once you’ve listened a few times. The latter, coming in at just under 90 seconds sounds like The Fall crossed with The Pixies and The Ramones.  Oh and the lyric is a little ruder than messing you around…

Manic and Mad.



Chinese fontThe Robster chose the letter P

Difficult. Is one way to describe the letter P. So many decent bands begin with P. I’ve discounted Portishead, Placebo, Pure Morning (although I truly recommend you seek out ‘Scum’ from their debut album), Pop Will Eat Itself, Procul Harum and the Pixies, to name but six. I also was tempted to talk about Panjabi MC, as I have a great story about him at a wedding in Chennai, but I would definitely get sued. Anyway, there is only one place to start when talking about bands beginning with P.

Imagine the scene if you will, it 1994, it’s the Reading Festival and a relatively drunk S-WC (evening meal vodka and a falafel burger, the food of a king) and his mate who we shall called Chris (as that is his name) are hitting on two wee Scottish girls from ‘the twee village of Blairgowrie’(their words).

It is Saturday evening and we are trying to talk the two girls into coming to see Madder Rose with us, as Chris really likes them and besides we want to catch Compulsion and Elastica who were on before them. They say no, they want to see Primal Scream, the problem is on before Primal Scream is Ice Cube who no really likes but they are willing to put up with that in order to get a good spot. Personally I’m not fussed either way, as long as I see Compulsion I don’t care. Also the girls were nicer to look at that Chris, so I was probably swaying in that direction.

We consume more vodka and I think I manage to eat a doughnut to soak up the alcohol, in 1994 eating wasn’t cheating. The two girls by the way had drunk way more than us and were absolutely far more sober than either me or Chris. In the end in ways that only girls can they ‘persuaded’ us to watch Primal Scream with them, we caught Compulsion first (who were great) missed Elastica and hot footed it over to Primal Scream. I should point out that the persuasion was not as seedy as I have made it sound, I think they produced another half bottle of vodka and that swung it.

End result, Primal Scream in 1994, was the best live performance I have ever seen, perhaps it was the drink, the company and the atmosphere but standing in a field at 1030pm listening to ‘Higher Than The Sun’just about does it for me. The four of us woke up the next morning in the same tent (clothed, you filthy minded buggers, although I do remember being disappointed) with two of us having the mother of all hangovers, but it was really worth it. I have to say I have never listened to Madder Rose since that festival.

mp3 : Primal Scream – Come Together (Farley mix)

Since then I have seen Primal Scream live more than any band, they are pretty much the only band I would now travel to see outside of the South West to see live and they just get better and better live. I saw them at a place called the Eden Project a few years back now, down in Cornwall, they played ‘Screamadelica’ in full and it was truly amazing. I love their energy, their passion, and in Bobby Gillespie they have a frontman who will I think go on for ever. For those who haven’t heard it, ‘Screamadelica’ is the greatest record ever made. Period. No arguments. Forget what is written about ‘The Queen is Dead’ or ‘Pet Sounds’, they don’t even come close.

A couple of years ago I went to a wedding it was pretty dull, until the party afterwards. I was sat at the bar recovering after having a boring conversation with some bloke who drove buses in Chester. Which took up the ENTIRE MEAL. Everything I spoke about he managed successfully to bring in buses to the equation. What do you think about David Cameron’s view on Syria? Well funny you should say that, in Chester on the buses we use engine parts made in Syria…that kind of thing.

Anyway, at the bar there was a couple of blokes who didn’t fit in, they looked cool and out-of-place. I kind of nodded at them and we did the how do you know the bride and groom thing. Turns out they were related, or one of them was. They were in a band, and that band was Public Service Broadcasting. One of the two (and I have to be careful as they use pseudonyms) said we have a mantra we aim to teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future. What they do is trawl through old film archives, and use snippets of voices and then set them to music. It sounds weird but it really works. If you have a long musical memory then you might remember Paul Hardcastle tried something similar with the song ‘19’ and perhaps even Big Audio Dynamites ‘E=MC2’ but PSB do it excellently and without the feel of a gimmick. They had me the minute they told me their mantra and I hadn’t heard them. When I did what I got was the sound of 1930s announcements set to a whirl of indie guitars and electronica and I was gobsmacked at what they had done. The problem is and I never told them, is what are they going to do next?

mp3 : Public Service Broadcasting – Spitfire

Finally an oldie but a goldie, a record that is in my top ten tracks of all time. Probably, I keep changing it. I post it as an advert really, because right now on Amazon every Pavement album is available on download for £2.99 and if that is not an excuse to buy them all then I don’t know what is.

Whenever I move house – which isn’t that often these days, but I have stretched the rules to whenever I stay in a hotel, the first song I listen to in that house, room, suite whatever is ‘Summer Babe’ by Pavement. I don’t have a reason, when I moved into students halls for the first time I plugged my stereo in and the first record out of the box was ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ and I put in on and turned it up. Within ten minutes, my new neighbour had knocked on the door and asked me if I fancied a beer and that he loved Pavement and did I have anything by the Wedding Present. After that it just stuck. These days I normally listen to it on tinny speakers on the laptop but I have this feeling that one day the person in the room next door will knock and say ‘is that pavement?

mp3 : Pavement – Summer Babe (winter version)

Next week – R. but lets have some more letters please




Another, more than likely short-lived series as I’ll get fed up with it quickly.  This one will look at some of my favourite singles from the country which inspired Holly Johnson’s last chart hit back in 1989.  I’m starting off with :-

mp3 : Pavement – Stereo

There’s a lot of folk out there who think Pavement are an American version of The Fall.  Indeed, Mark E Smith went as far as saying that Pavement are a rip-off of his band and that they didn’t have an original idea in their heads.  I get the comparisons to some extent in as far as much of the music released by both bands is quirky but catchy with lyrics that border on the complete nonsensical but somehow make perfect sense.  There’s also the fact that, like The Fall, a lot of folk just ‘don’t get’ Pavement.

Me?  There’s a fair bit of their material that leaves me scratching my hand in bemusement but there was also a number of superb singles that should have cracked the charts instead of floundering away just outside the Top 40.  Part of the reason for this was a stubborness to stay on smaller indie labels throughout their recording career when perhaps a move to a major in the mid 90s might have got them fame and fortune.  But when you read what all the band members have to say about things it’s quite clear that they were very content to remain underground and have a higher degree of artistic freedom.

Stereo is one of their better known singles.  It dates from 1997 and stalled at #48 in the UK singles chart.  It has a sound that was a huge influence on Graham Coxon as can be evidenced from a number of the songs that were issued on 13, the Blur album released in 1999.

Here’s the two tracks that were on the CD single:-

mp3 : Pavement – Westie Can Drum

mp3 : Pavement – Winner Of The

Both of these musically are great throwbacks to the post-punk new wave sounds that came out of America in the late 70s.  I dare anyone to listen and not think of Television.  Two excellent tracks thrown away on a flop single…..

Oh and while I’m here, I may as well shove up Pavement doing a cover of a song by The Fall recorded for session on Radio 1.  It’s a fabulous tribute…..

mp3 : Pavement – The Classical