Five Best Pavement Cover Songs
Twenty-two years ago today, Pavement released one of indie-rock’s most defining albums, ‘Slanted and Enchanted.’ It influenced an entire way artists and fans thought about underground music. Coming at the start of the alt-rock revolution, the record sounded nothing like anything else released during that fertile period — not Pixies, not Nirvana, not even the bands Pavement said they were inspired by. Jagged, artsy, disjointed and abrasive to the point of jarring, Pavement’s 1992 classic debut still sounds ahead of its time. But it all came from someplace, and these cover songs represent the best of the band’s takes on their idols and even one of their contemporaries.
These New Zealand rockers, who got their start right as the ’70s turned into the ’80s, were as influenced as much by primitive garage rock from the ’60s as they were by the post-punk singles breaking out all around them. Pavement’s cover of their song ‘Oddity’ was recorded during the sessions for their 1997 album, ‘Brighten the Corners.’ It’s pretty faithful, as far as these things go.
‘The Killing Moon’
Like their cover of the Clean’s ‘Oddity’ (see above), Pavement’s take on the Echo & the Bunnymen classic ‘The Killing Moon’ was recorded during the sessions for 1997’s ‘Brighten the Corners’ LP. Pavement can’t quite nail the original’s spooky mood and sense of dread, but they score points for injecting some art-punk life into the song.
In a way, the Fall were Pavement before Pavement were Pavement. They made noisy art-rock that was never really sure if it belonged in a jukebox or on a wall. Fragmented, tormented and filled with brutally hammered guitar tones, ‘The Classical’ is a somewhat sweeping song in the Fall’s long catalog. Pavement trick it out with various effects in this version from the Peel Sessions from 1997.
Pavement once recorded a song called ‘Unseen Power of the Picket Fence,’ all about how much they loved R.E.M.‘s 1984 album ‘Reckoning.’ This cover from around the time of the ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ album is an awkward attempt at recreating ‘Reckoning”s big ballad ‘Camera.’ It’s kind of a mess, and we’re pretty sure Stephen Malkmus is making up about 90 percent of the words, but nobody else ever declared their love so strongly for R.E.M.’s second album.
In their 1994 song ‘Range Life,’ Pavement take some stabs at their contemporaries, including the Smashing Pumpkins. They’ve said they never really meant it to be that much of a slam, but whatever. Maybe this live cover of the Pumpkins’ nostalgic ‘1979’ was sorta making amends. It’s pretty faithful, and not at all snobby. In fact, it’s kinda pretty.