Thursday, 26 October 2017

Oliver!: Pavement - Two States (3 April 1992)

It was 20 years ago today
Damon Albarn said Pavement could play.
Blur in the market for a change of style
Cos they’d lost their shiny Britpop smile.
So may I introduce to you
The act for which I’d no idea.
The Pavement Lovers Career Reviving Band!

(Apologies to Paul McCartney)

In what is one of this blog’s many music-related “I’ve never seen Star Wars” moments, I’d never knowingly heard anything of Pavement’s music until they turned up on the recording of Peel’s 28/3/92 show.  For years they’d been tucked away in my subconscious as one of the influences that a battered and bruised Blur told journalists they were mining to help them draw a line under their pop-star phase as they trailed Blur (1997).  But I suppose it depended on which one of them you talked to.  I remember Graham Coxon being interviewed on The Evening Session one night in late 1996 and extolling the merits of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion who sounded terrific to my ears when Steve Lamacq or Jo Whiley cued in a record from them.  A look at Pavement performing in 1996 shows why they would have appealed to a pop star wanting to take a right turn - the tracks played at that gig walk a tightrope between indie-pop and jazz-rock performance art, but the unpredictability of the music and the “consciously loose live” (Tabitha Soren TM) feel must have seemed like the antidote to any band willing to step off the pop roundabout and enjoy the freedom to go down other routes - and in the case of that fifth Blur album, it worked like a treat both artistically and commercially.

However, the Pavement played by Peel on this night, sound less like innovators and more in hock to The Fall than anything else, but it sounds football-crowd-arms-in-the-air compelling with the bellowed title line - potentially advocating the partitioning of California - a three chord riff driving the track along throughout, stolid double-drum pattern underpinning the whole thing like some Glam Rock out-take, “Forty million daggers!” a vocal varying between the melodic and the narratorial.  And after all, Fall shows could be as unpredictable as anything going.  It all becomes clear now.  The Godfather of Song 2 was never Stephen Malkmus, it was Mark E. Smith.

Video courtesy of WeezerFan4Ever.

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