Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement (5 stars)

Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement

(Domino Records)

During the 90s Pavement were cult kingpins of the burgeoning US indie-rock scene, and leader Stephen Malkmus was an idol for the brainy post-Cobain brigade. Several excellent albums garnished the era (from Slanted and Enchanted to Terror Twilight), and this long-awaited highlights compilation is a must-have treasure.

Since 2001, Malkmus has carved out his own solo career accompanied by The Jicks (Pavement guitarist Spiral Stairs, aka Scott Kannberg formed The Preston School Of Industry), no one guessing that maybe one day the Stockton, California band would get the green light once again.

To select only a handful of tracks from the 23 on show here is nigh-on impossible, but for the uninitiated, you could do worse than ear-lobing minor UK hits such as ‘Stereo’ (notable for its Geddy ‘Rush’ Lee namecheck), ‘Shady Lane’ (both from Brighten the Corners in 1997) and ‘Cut Your Hair’. One question, though: Why has their biggest hit, ‘Carrot Rope’ been omitted?

Once described as America’s answer to The Fall (I documented this in my book The Great Rock Discography), Pavement made obsolete any comparisons with 1994’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, a landmark album that contained ‘Gold Soundz’, ‘Unfair’, ‘Heaven Is A Truck’ and ‘Range Life’.

1995’s experimental Wowee Zowee!, disappointed all but the faithful; the evidence being that only two ‘quarantined’ tracks show up here: ‘Grounded’ and ‘Fight This Generation’. Thankfully there’s no sign of flop singles ‘Rattled by the Rush’ or ‘Father to a Sister of Thought’.

Their earliest and arguably, greatest, works (‘Box Elder’, ‘Debris Slide’, ‘Summer Babe’, Trigger Cut – Wounded Kite At: 17’, ‘Mellow Jazz Docent’, ‘Two States’ and ‘In The Mouth Of The Desert’) are the highlights, while there’s also room for a couple of later gems such as ‘Date w/ IKEA’ and ‘Spit On A Stranger’. Pavement are currently on the road for a comeback world tour – playing a string of dates at London’s Brixton Academy before curating All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Minehead weekender in the spring.

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