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:-

mp3: Pavement – Major Leagues (edit)

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.

mp3: Pavement – Your Time To Change
mp3: Pavement – Stub Your Toe

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:-

mp3: Pavement – Major Leagues (demo)
mp3: Pavement – Decouvert de Soleil

And finally. From the vaults. Two covers that were recorded for BBC Radio in 1997

mp3: Pavement – The Killing Moon
mp3: Pavement – The Classical

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……


45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 30)


16 – Trigger Cut – Pavement (1992 Matador Records)

Released as a single in late 1992 (Did Not Chart)

I could of course talk about ‘Summer Babe’ but I always talk about that record and the way that it was playing in the background when I finally plucked up the courage to ask OPG out. I also always talk about it because it is the first song I play whenever I move into a new house, I’m not sure where that tradition came from it’s just one that has sort of stuck. I think it’s probably because when I left home to become a student that was the record I grabbed when I checked the stereo speakers were all plugged in properly. So to be honest ‘Summer Babe’ is a very influential song in my life.

But let’s talk about the events of the first Wednesday in April 2010. This folks, is the day when a 34 year old me, finally got his hair cut. Now, the more astute amongst you will say that surely a more suitable song would be ‘Cut Your Hair’ by Pavement and you would all be right, but there is a reason why I went for ‘Trigger Cut’.

It’s a better song that ‘Cut Your Hair’ and besides I had my hair cut at gunpoint surrounded by Rwandan militia so its more appropriate. Ok I didn’t really. I had my hair cut because a pretty girl laughed at some chocolate stuck on my nose.

Two days before I got my hair cut I was in a branch of Costa Coffee – one which was inside a branch of Waterstones, and I was sat a table and I was reading my new book, which was, for those that are interested, by Cormac McCarthy, in front of me was hot chocolate and a muffin (blueberry). The table in front of me is occupied by two younger women, who are looking at me and smiling.

Now, I’m happily married, but its nice to get a smile from random strangers. I smile back and they laugh. I work out pretty quickly that they are not ‘smiling’ smiling at me. There must be something wrong with me. I finish my muffin and my hot chocolate and head to the gents.

I stand in front of the mirror and look at myself. I’m 34 years of age, I’m wearing a jumper I bought from a charity shop, my jeans are old, my trainers are battered (but must be cool because the homeless guy I spoke to the other day remarked on how nice ‘New Balance were’). My hair is a mess, its long, its tied up in a pony tail and its scraggly and dry and horrible. Then I realise why the ladies were laughing. I had a big splodge of chocolate on the bridge of my nose, where the grated stuff they put on the cup had stuck.

I wipe it off and arrange my hair so it looks a bit better, but it doesn’t it still looks rubbish. I frown at myself and walk home in a sulk.

At home I ask my wife what she thinks about my hair. She looks at me and tells me that “Its awful and its needs cutting” is her blunt answer. She then offers to do it for me, which I think about for a moment or two, and fearing some sort of hatchet job I decline her offer.

Sabotage – Beastie Boys (1994, Grand Royal Records, Number 19)

Two days later I am sat in the chair in my local branch of Toni & Guy. My wife has booked it for me, having phoned her hairdresser, a lovely guy called Jamie, who wears leather trousers, chains and calls literally everyone ‘darling’. I expect him to be camp but he sounds like Ray Winstone.

Jamie has a pair of scissors in his hand and he collects all the hair that is dragging down my back and in a matter of seconds, he snips it off. He walks around to the front of chair and utters this sentence to me.

“Darling,” he said “Some men, like to keep their pony tails, do you want to keep it?”. Jamie is about half my age. He will, a bit later in the morning, trim my eyebrows for me, and tell me that “Darling, it’s a sign of getting old”.

I shake my head and he throws the hair on the floor like an old dishcloth, three minutes later he will stand on it whilst cutting the rest of my hair. I’m sure that I hear my hair weeping about twenty minutes later as a work experience girl sweeps it away.

When Jamie has finished, he looks at me and says “Darling, that is better, my god, it was awful before”. He holds up a mirror to show me the back. I’d forgotten about the star shaped scar on my neck from where my brother accidently hit me with a stapler when I was seven. I smile, my wife is standing behind me. “Darling, he looks so much better” she tells Jamie and then she kisses me in front of everyone in the entire shop. It was brilliant as well, proper kissing in the public at the age of 34.

I pay Jamie £45 (I know, be quiet) and I walk outside. It is 10am. My wife and I walk up the street arm in arm, one of us with a proper swagger.

Mr E’s Beautiful Blues – Eels (2000, Dreamworks Records, Number 11)



As mentioned before, the idea of this lazy new series was inspired by the fact that I was struggling for inspiration for new ideas for 2019. Twenty years ago, we were on the cusp of a new millennium. It’s a period which already feels like a lifetime ago but, when you turn to the music, seems to have been just the day before yesterday. This new series celebrates those circumstances by delving into the archives to re-post a review from the period, to be followed by some thoughts of my own a full two decades on.

#2 : TERROR TWILIGHT by PAVEMENT (NME, 3 June 1999 – John Robinson)

They have the truth for you every time, Pavement. Have the same slouch, the same superbly articulate shrug, sure, but it’s the truth, the open-palmed, idly-tossed jewel in the esoteric fog that gets you. When they played in London last month, the group chiefly performed songs from this LP, and this is why. The songs may change. The essential thinking behind them doesn’t.

Stephen Malkmus’ truth walks, hands in pockets, through ‘Terror Twilight’ as it has through the greatest Pavement records, and pulls up to ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ and ‘Wowee Zowee!’ standing tall. He drawls it like he means it, throughout. “Architecture students are like virgins with an itch they cannot scratch”, he muses on ‘The Hexx’. “Never build a building till you’re 50/What kind of life is that?” Well, y’know. Exactly.

It’s this kind of thing that keeps Pavement completely essential. No radical overhauls have been made: their titles oblique, their instrumentation out there, their singer so lackadaisical about his lyric composition (most of the vocals on the record weren’t put on until the mixing stage). The beauty on ‘Terror Twilight’ is more striking because it sounds like it’s been stumbled on while walking out to buy coffee, trainers or tofu.

All of which might seem a bit unlikely. Pre-publicity for the album in America had hinted that this was the band’s third crack at recording their fifth studio album, that if it didn’t work, they’d have considered packing it in, which didn’t sound like a promising prologue to what has turned out to be a wily but consistent album. Instead this is Another Very Good Pavement Album, where the only real surprise – and though fantastic, filled with giddying disorientation it is not – is that its producer is Nigel Godrich, whose technique chiefly consists of weaving a coherent production narrative out of seemingly accidental noise. Pavement were doing that, y’know, anyway.

But hey. Or, as Malkmus shrugs on ‘Major Leagues’, “Relationships, hey, hey, hey…”. The important tone he cuts on ‘Terror Twilight’ is an early-30s equanimity with life’s vicissitudes, fallen off it a few times, but still riding a skateboard, amused and never frightened. He’s been “tired of the best years of my life”. Knows that, “Time is a one-way track/I’m never going back”. He could just be freestyling, and Pavement songs might not be saddled with the most orthodox of songwriting techniques, but off the Malkmus cuff is copious wisdom thrown.

The group crackles with the same kind of insight and intelligence. Though there are songs on here (‘Major Leagues’, ‘Ann Don’t Cry’) which rely on a slightly formulaic countrified mode Pavement have made their own, the odd places the group go musically (to The Groundhogs’ ‘Split’ LP on ‘Platform Blues’, Pink Floyd on ‘The Hexx’, The Jackson 5 on latest single ‘…And Carrot Rope’) and their slack, unhurried handling of the whole procedure make it sound completely ingenuous. They’ve got a quality you can’t buy, and that’s personality.

Irish folk tales scare the shit out of you. You’ve not looked hard at a foetus in a jar. Don’t drink from the tainted flute. This is Pavement’s truth: it’s probably yours too.

JC writes……

First up, it’s quite frightening to realise it’s now been 20 years since Pavement split up, with their last ever gig being in London in November 1999, albeit there was a touring reunion 10 years later. It’s been fairly well-documented that the recording of Terror Twilight and the subsequent world tour to promote it was very much the catalyst for the break-up.

It’s an album that I found very underwhelming at the time of release. It didn’t sound or feel like any other Pavement record which I put down to the songs being universally those of Stephen Malkmus with Spiral Stairs (aka Scott Kannberg) being left out on the fringes of things, so it was perhaps more akin to a solo project than a genuine band effort. I was expecting and hoping for more stuff that sounded like Stereo or Shady Lane and that the album would enable Pavement to somehow re-ignite indie guitar-pop after a prolonged spell in the doldrums after Britpop had imploded in such spectacular fashion. Instead, I found myself thinking it was akin in places to easy-paced country rock, (Major Leagues is a Tom Petty song in waiting), and, even worse, there were numerous tracks in which it was hard to discern any differences, wholly lacking hooks and riffs, which sounded like an art school project gone wrong.

In short, my views and thoughts couldn’t be further away from Mr Robinson at the NME.

A year or so later, some of it actually made sense when the next Radiohead album, Kid A, was released. It and Terror Twilight shared a producer in Nigel Godrich and it does now seem that much of the experimentation in sounds he deployed with Pavement would be utilised on his next project with Thom Yorke & co…..and it’s worth remembering that Kid A caused a lot of head-scratching at the time of its release.

A few weeks back, I listened again in full to Terror Twilight for the first time in a very long while….well at least I tried to. If anything, it is even more disappointing to listen to than when it first came out, failing to hold my attention span much and the FF button was utilised a fair bit, often in mid-song and then later to skip certain tracks altogether. There is some merit in album opener Spit on a Stranger while the closer, Carrot Rope, is one that I’d probably find room for if I was to compose an ICA of my own (Tim Badger pulled together a superb ICA in September 2015 – click here for a reminder. Interesting that he didn’t include anything from the farewell album).

mp3 : Pavement – Carrot Rope

As ever, feel free to argue otherwise.

Oh and if anyone feels like contributing a guest posting for this 20 years look back series, then feel free to drop me a line. All contributions are welcome and I never turn anything down (unless you happen to be suggesting something that’s already in the can!).



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