Typically, lavish anniversary album reissues are restricted to classic records by, say, John Coltrane and Boston.The whole idea of a two-disc set honouring an indie rock album, complete with new liner notes, bonus tracks and remastered sound, runs counter to the basic concept of underground music, which is why the fuss around the 10th anniversary of Pavement's Slanted & Enchanted album seems so odd.
Recorded for $600 and released in 1992, the record is indeed a classic, a shambling, cryptic bit of art pop made by songwriters with names like SM and Spiral Stairs and a pisstank drummer who occasionally spent entire shows standing on his head.
For a brief second, Pavement were the designated next big thing -- a tag they quickly sabotaged with their next records. Yet while the group's later albums were marked by better production and the assumption that the band members were actually learning how to play their instruments, it was Slanted & Enchanted that, for fans at least, remained Pavement's high-water mark.
The new Luxe & Deluxe edition includes cleaned-up sound as well as outtakes, Peel Sessions, the excellent Watery, Domestic EP and a brutally unfocused live set.
There are also new liner notes that include guitarist Scott Kannberg's hilarious admission that at the time of the original recording, the band was concerned about being accused of ripping off Buffalo Tom and Dinosaur and never predicted the accusations of stealing from the Fall that would dog them for another decade.
For a group who never particularly enjoyed talking about their music when they were together, the concept of looking back seems doubly strange.
"What's really bizarre is how well the reissue is doing," Kannberg laughs from Seattle. "I had no idea anyone cared any more. I hadn't listened to the record in a really long time, but I always knew the original tapes sounded better than what ended up on the album.
"Matador kept asking us to do a greatest hits or singles record, which we really weren't into. We did have a lot of b-sides, Peel Sessions and live stuff, though, and I thought it would be cool to put it together in its proper context. The whole process just made me realize how much fun it was when the band was naive and fresh. We lost that toward the end."
That evolution of the band, from excited to jaded and bitter, is captured best on the long-overdue DVD Slow Century. The two-disc set includes all the band's often hilarious videos, another particularly shambolic concert and a documentary about the group that includes footage of the last three songs Pavement ever performed.
The project was almost abandoned, in part because the band broke up acrimoniously midway through production, and largely because Kannberg was the only one in the band who could be arsed to help out with the reissue and the DVD. The lack of participation from Steve Malkmus is glaring, and, in fact, none of the former members of Pavement got together or even spoke during the assembly of either the CD or the DVD.
For those still hoping, there will be no Pavement reunion.
"No one wanted to be involved with either project," Kannberg drawls. "I happened to have all the stuff in my garage, so I took control of the whole situation. Lance, the guy who put the documentary together, sent everyone in the band a copy and asked for suggestions, but no one really helped.
"It was really frustrating, but not surprising, especially considering the way the band ended. Everyone was a bit frustrated with how certain people were behaving."
Even so, Kannberg is not closing the door on Pavement just yet. If he has his way, the Slanted & Enchanted package will be just the beginning of a series of definitive Pavement reissues.
"There's tons of stuff for the other records that I'd like to get out," he says. "We tried to record Crooked Rain with our old drummer, Gary, and there's a bunch of songs from that session that no one's ever heard before, plus lots more outtakes and Peel Sessions. I want it all to be out there."firstname.lastname@example.org
PAVEMENT Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe & Reduxe (Matador) Rating: NNNNN; Slow Century DVD (Matador) Rating: NNN