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Slanted And Enchanted: Luxe And Reduxe

Slanted And Enchated: Luxe and Reduxe
(Matador Records)

I'll admit that I was a bit late hearing about Pavement. At the time that this release originally came out, I was between my junior and senior year at a high school in a small midwestern town. The only radio stations I could get played top 40 fare, and even though I was buying lots of music, I was leaning towards other genres. It was sometime around my sophomore year in college (about 3 years later) that I finally discovered the group based on their song "Cut Your Hair" (from their Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain release), and it was at that point I finally went back and caught up on their releases. Although I wasn't as dilligent in picking up all their further releases from that point (yes on the Wowie Zowie, nope on the Terror Twilight), their first two albums always found their way into my stereo on a regular basis after that.

Even now, I find myself listening to them, and although my personal preference still leans toward their second full-length (despite the popular consensus of their first being even more influencial and better), I can't deny that Slanted And Enchanted was a release that influenced hundreds if not thousands of bands. Realizing the significance, Matador Records is giving the album the red carpet treatment, not only including the original disc in this release, but 34 bonus tracks and a fancy extended booklet (with musings and artwork by members of the band) as well. In addition to this release, the label is also releasing a double-DVD worth of material for the group that includes videos, live footage, and other antics.

Whereas some re-releases simply act as a big money-grab by the label in question without giving much extra material in return, there's no doubt that this release is worth it if you're a fan. The first disc contains the original release (which has been remastered, giving it a slightly more buff feel), and from there out the goodies begin. You get 6 tracks of session outtakes and demos, some of which were released on now-deleted singles and whatnot, and several of which haven't ever seen the light of day. You also get two different Peel Session recordings (8 more tracks, including the awesome "Secret Knowledge of Backroads"), both of the Watery sessions (again mostly hard-as-hell to find), and a nicely-recorded live show from the Brixton Academy, recorded just a week before Christmas in 1992.

If you've heard much of their early material, you know that it's a bit grittier and grimier than their more polished future releases (although they tried to get back to the sound somewhat with Wowie Zowie). The songs are a band finding their form and although some of it sounds like numerous bands that have come out since then, you also realize that hearing Pavement 10 years ago was a large portion of their influence. While some of this material has been floating around in digital format for awhile (such is the life of 'unreleased' tracks in the digital age), Matador is smartly releasing this fancy package for only a couple dollars more than the price of a regular CD. Part of that probably comes from the fact that not only did Slanted And Enchanted launch Pavement into a much bigger spotlight, but also was a majority of the reason that Matador went from a tiny label to one that was synonymous with "indie" after the release. You can keep your original copy for posterity's sake, but if your'e a fan of the group, you'll probably find yourself caressing the fancy embossed slipcase cover and chuckling at the great included booklet (including writing from several members of the group and old photos, lyric sheets, etc) while you listen to the building blocks of an excellent group and hear a concert that only some lucky people originally got to hear.

Rating: 8.75