The strangest thing about Pavement? Not that there were ever many non-strange things about Pavement? Even though they made their era’s finest rock albums, the albums only told half their story. Pavement also made some of the Nineties’ best albums that never happened. Until now.
Pavement made five proper album-as-albums: Slanted and Enchanted (1992), Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994), Wowee Zowee (1995), Brighten The Corners (1997) and Terror Twilight (1999). Each has its own sound. Each has its own legend. But each of their official albums has a shadow album—and it’s usually as strong as the album that actually did come out. It’s time for the world to hear the albums Pavement could have made, if they’d been a little less ambitious about music and a little more ambitious about the music business. If they’d been the kind of band to sweat the legacy. But if they were that kind of band, would they have written so many great songs? Much less these great songs? No.
Matador is finally releasing a series of these shadow albums. The first, naturally, is The Secret History Vol. 1, collecting the songs that got away during the era of Slanted and Enchanted, which Stephen Malkmus, Scott Kannberg and Gary Young recorded on the cheaper-than-cheap in January 1991. Secret Slanted History collects gems from Peel Sessions (“Kentucky Cocktail,” “Circa 1762”) and seven-inches (“Baptist Blacktick”) as well as live slop from the first European tours, with Mark Ibold and Bob Nastanovich in the fold. Some are outtakes from Slanted—imagine leaving these tunes off your first album, when as far as you know or imagine, it’s your only album. These tracks (some of which had never been rumored among Pavement freaks) came out on the 2002 Slanted and Enchanted reissue. But they’ve never been separately available as an album in their own right, and many of them have never been on vinyl before.
The rarities collected here could have been—or maybe even should have been—cobbled together into a quickie stopgap album, a Slantedsequel.