Coming August 11 : Pavement – The Secret History, Vol. 1 (double LP)

(photo courtesy The Spiral Stairs Archives)

On August 11, Matador Records will release a double LP, ‘The Secret History Vol. 1’ in North America*, the first of five compilations in a new series of Pavement rarities. The 30 tracks, 25 of which will be available on vinyl for the first time ever, are allculled from the Slanted and Enchanted era (1990-1992) (and previously available on the ‘Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe & Reduxe’ CD). The deluxe double LP contains essays by Stephen Malkmus and Spiral Stairs, plus essays from Matador Records, Billions Corporation, and Drag City bosses, and a gorgeous gatefold designed by Rob Carmichael (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors).

(Preorder ‘The Secret History, Vol. 1’ from the Matador Store)

(‘The Secret History, Vol. 1’ will be available in Europe via Domino)

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.

Every proper Pavement album, from the out-of-nowhere debut Slanted and Enchanted to the summer-upper Terror Twilight, was accompanied by a flurry of slay tracks and stray slack—songs that got scattered on B-sides, EPs, compilations, radio sessions. But Pavement were too busy writing and recording great songs to worry about where to stash them, and they moved too fast to leave a tidy trail. So they left these songs off their albums. Some never got released at all.

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. The Secret History, Vol. 1 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: Luxe & Reduxe double CD 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.

1. Sue Me Jack
2. So Stark (You’re A Skyscraper)
3. Summer Babe (7” Version)
4. Mercy Snack: The Laundromat
5. Baptiss Blacktick
6. My First Mine
7. Nothing Ever Happens
8. Here (Alternate Mix)
9. Greenlander
10. Circa 1762 (Peel Session 1)
11. Kentucky Cocktail (Peel Session 1)
12. Secret Knowledge Of Backroads (Peel Session 1)
13. Here (Peel Session 1)
14. Rain Ammunition (Peel Session 2)
15. Drunks With Guns (Peel Session 2)
16. Ed Ames (Peel Session 2)
17. The List Of Dorms (Peel Session 2)
18. Conduit For Sale [Live Brixton 1992]
19. Fame Throwa [Live Brixton 1992]
20. Home [Live Brixton 1992]
21. Perfume V [Live Brixton 1992]
22. Summer Babe [Live Brixton 1992]
23. Frontwards [Live Brixton 1992]
24. Angel Carver Blues Mellow Jazz Docent [Live Brixton 1992] 
25. Two States [Live Brixton 1992]
26. No Life Singed Her [Live Brixton 1992]
27. So Stark (You’re A Skyscraper) [Live Brixton 1992]
28. Box Elder [Live Brixton 1992]
29. Baby Yeah [Live Brixton 1992]
30. In The Mouth A Desert [Live Brixton 1992]

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22 thoughts on “Coming August 11 : Pavement – The Secret History, Vol. 1 (double LP)”

  1. 5 volumes? So i assume you’ll release 4 of them and the fifth will never see the light of day

  2. Here you are, Pavement fans, buy some music you already have on an alternative format.

    Why not go the whole hog and release it on Record Store Day so you can charge extra for it?

    You’ve got the title of track 30 wrong.

  3. Rob S: Lots of people have requested that the band release these tracks on vinyl. nobody is forcing you to buy it if you don’t want it!

    Thanks for catching the typo in track 30, fixed.

    j: Precisely, this is the Slanted Reduxe tracks on vinyl. Subsequent volumes will collect the other CD bonus tracks on vinyl, with perhaps a couple extras if we can find any.

    starttomelt: We’ll see what we can do to continue disappointing fans worldwide.

  4. Wow, nice crappy answer! Still no official answer as to what happened to the Terror Twilight Farewell Horizontal Edition.

  5. While the cynicism above is amusing, those of us who where disappointed by the “Loudness War”-era mastering of the CD versions are hopeful the vinyl will be an improvement…

    Though it disgusts me personally, I can kinda sorta grumble grumble understand how “we” got to the vomitous point of mastering for (fucking) youtube and shitty earbuds but since we’re going back to wax… here’s hoping.

  6. Keith: what could I have said that wouldn’t have pissed you off?

    The fact is that there is very little extra material from the Terror period that hasn’t been released. That said, we will do our best to collect what there is when we get there. These projects take a lot of time & work, even just to collect sources, sequence and master for vinyl.

  7. Not pissed off, I just happily replaced my original copies as the series went along on CD with the deluxe reissues and to have the final one announced and never be released is disappointing. If it’s a band thing, that’s fine, it’s just that no one has ever gone on record as to what actually happened.

  8. So are you planning on releasing 5 volumes without actually knowing if you have enough material to put on the 5th?

  9. Hey Patrick,

    Is there any hope of going back to RTI to press records, even if we have to pay a bit more? I have to admit that I am a bit wary of buying Matador vinyl pressed at united these days after some bad experiences…and going back and listening to the RTI presses…those are among the best reissues I own.

    Seems like for something like this which already has a niche audience, it might be worth it.

    thanks for hearing me out

  10. Hi Keith: sorry that nobody has officially stated what happened. Part of the problem is that nobody ever fully agreed what should be done – the band does not want to release low-quality material, and the two live LPs that came out around the 2010 reunion are more or less what would have gone on the CD. Since they and we came under a lot of criticism for doing the Brighten vinyl box 8 months after the CD, and we heard where that was coming from, the idea of doing any kind of Terror issue was laid aside until someone had time to look at what we really had in the vaults. By that time, CD sales were declining steadily and it was noted that we had issued most of this stuff on vinyl, so we decided to do a proper vinyl series of the rarities starting from the top.

    David: yes, a multi-volume reissue series takes a long time to prepare. The CD reissue series as you know was released from 2002 to 2008 – each one took about 2 years to put together. There will be material from TT, it’s just not clear how much & and in what form it will be.

    Karthik: we actually press at a number of different plants, and the issues with URP have been noted. The Pavement reissue is being pressed at Quality who have done good work for us recently – fingers crossed it turns out well. (RTI are great but their turnaround times are approaching 12 months.)

  11. Great to hear that QRP is cutting these…love them as well!

    thanks for the info, Patrick – count me in!

  12. When’s the announcement about the Slanted reunion tour where they play full album (n’ some related rarities)?

  13. Just to check, the plan was for the majority of content on the TT rerelease to be from the two live recordings from 1997 that contained no songs from Terror Twilight?

  14. “Why not go the whole hog and release it on Record Store Day so you can charge extra for it?”

    PLEASE FWD YOUR CV ASAP. This is the sort of creative thinking we’re sorely in need of.

  15. I am beyond excited for these volumes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Matador! I’m sure this is no new concept but perhaps the TT volume could include Malk’s demos for the album? Eitherway, legit vinyl copies of Circa, Greenlander, Stray Fire, Rooftop Gambler and Porpoise and the Hand Grenade were all I ever needed to get on board. Here’s to Matador doing things right.

  16. the real answer is that you made a mistake when you announced in January 2010 that the TT reish was coming in the Fall of 2011, right on schedule with the every-two-year release pattern. According to Patrick the live LPs released in 2010 (the ones that never happened) stole the content for the TT reissue — setting aside the small fact that those 2010 live LP’s don’t exist, it’s ironic that they were supposedly released right around the time you were still promising TT to fans on this blog.

    The truth about this new volume is that all but 3 of the tracks on this release were pressed on vinyl, albeit by less than legitimate sources. I’ve been happily spinning them for 20+ years — Ed Ames on 7″ is a joy. So when you say NEVER BEFORE ON VINYL, what you mean is NEVER BEFORE MONETIZED IN THIS FORMAT BY MATADOR RECORDS.

  17. The argument that there’s not enough material for the TT reissue puzzles me frankly. You’ve probably done this excercise a lot, but just off the top of my head I can come up with:

    1-11. Original album

    12. Shagbag
    13. Decouvert de soleil
    14. Major leagues (demo)
    15. The porpoise and the hand grenade
    16. Rooftop gambler
    17. Your time to change
    18. Stub your toe
    19. Watch out
    20. Robyn turns 21

    1997 acoustic festival sessions
    21. You are a light
    22. Love is lies
    23. Something
    24. You are a light

    Stuff that should exist
    25. Civilize the satanist (demo and/or band version)
    26. Dot days (demo and/or band version)
    27. CCR sample song (‘I don’t care’?) (demo)
    xx-xx. More solo demos
    xx-xx. More early band sessions (The Jackpot! Scrabble sessions)

    Matador at 21
    28. Here
    29. Trigger cut
    30. The hexx
    31. She believes
    32. Unfair
    33. Zurich is stained
    34. Debris slide
    35. Spit on a stranger

    (could be separate release in case of enough unheard material) 36-56. 16 nov 1999, Tilburg show (one of THE Pavement shows)

    What’s so bad about that?

  18. This comments section is priceless. Matador won’t release TT Deluxe because there aren’t enough songs (But please do but it’s corresponding rarities collection!) but they will routinely turn around and release deluxe editions of albums that haven’t been around for more than a year.

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