Pavement’s debut long-player hits its 30th anniversary in April. But Slanted And Enchanted was already well-known to the cognoscenti by the time it appeared in stores, thanks to various promo tapes that circulated in the underground several months prior.
“Too many versions … have been floating around these last few months,” Erik Davis wrote in a rave review for Spin in March of 1992. “I’m not sure which one I’ve got, nor the relation it has to the final release. There’s no cover on my XL II — no song titles, no lyrics, no personnel list. All I have is music, played over and over again: slapdash drums, bells, catchy choruses, sha-la-la-las, guitars played so loose and confident they’re almost smiling at you.” Regardless of whether you heard Slanted & Enchanted way back when or whether you just discovered it last week, Davis’ words still ring true. The 14-song collection is one of rock’s real classics — never mind consigning it to the “indie rock” pile.
To celebrate its lasting appeal, here’s a version of the album re-created from live tapes cherry picked from over the years, from the Gary Young era to the Westie days, and even with a little solo Malkmus thrown in there for good measure (the noisy scribble “Chesley’s Little Wrists” is the only MIA tune, having never been played onstage — maybe Pavement will open their reunion tour this year with that one?). Beautifully rough around the edges, occasionally on the verge of falling apart completely, it’s an appropriately enchanting listen, with style for miles and miles. | t wilcox