Brighten the Corners
published: 24 /
Jamie Rowland examines influential indie rock outfit Pavement's 1997 fourth album, 'Brighten the Corners', which has just been re-released in a new double CD edition
Domino Records continue their run of Pavement re-releases with this special, two-disc edition of the band’s 4th album, 'Brighten the Corners'.
Of course, anyone with half a working brain will realise that the 12 tracks from the original album are brilliant, and their absence will leave a gaping hole in any self-respecting music lover’s collection. With the Nicene Creedence Edition, you, however, get another 32 tracks on top of that, which I shall base this review on.
On CD 1, as well as the original album, you get the full, unedited version of ‘Spit on a Stranger’ b-side, ‘Then (The Hexx)’. Originally meant as the opener to 'Brighten the Corners', another version also features on the band’s final album, 'Terror Twighlight'. On 'Nicene Creedence', it becomes a bit of a mini-epic; stretching to nearly 7 minutes in length, it feels to me like the song reaches its full potential with this recording, which is a rarity with alternative takes.
You also get some 'Brighten the Corners' session outtakes peppered throughout the two CDs which, while all good in their own right, it is perhaps understandable that they were removed from the original record, as it’s hard to see what they would have added to the album. For Pavement completeists though, they are undoubtedly essential, and shouldn’t disappoint.
The first CD ends with 5 more B-side tracks, from both the single releases of ‘Stereo’ and ‘Spit on a Stranger’ (although the latter track was actually on 'Terror Twighlight', the B-sides were recorded and mixed during the 'Brighten the Corners' sessions, and so are included in this collection). Again, these are all good, even great, songs, but clear to see why they were relegated to B-sides in favour of the original 12 album tracks.
CD 2 is perhaps more worthwhile in terms of extras, with its collection of different live versions and 3 full radio sessions. These include 4 tracks for BBC Radio 1’s Evening Session, 4 more for KCRW’s famous 'Morning Becomes Eclectic', and a final 4 from Pavement’s 1999 Peel Session. These sessions present a more live sound, and help give a better idea of what it might have been like to catch the band live than you’d probably get from an actual gig recording (although having said that, the live version of ‘Type Slowly’ included on this collection is pretty brilliant).
If you already own 'Brighten the Corners', you might think that it’s not really worth your while getting hold of a bunch of B-sides and cast-offs now, but I would have to argue that the radio sessions on the second CD make the case for buying the record really strong, in a way that the bonus tracks on the special edition of 'Wowee Zowee' perhaps did not. And if you don’t already own the record, then what the hell are you hanging around reading this for? Put it on your Christmas wish list, double quick!