This book by Rob Jovanovic is an overview of the tale of Pavement. I found it to be an engaging, accessible read. However, it also has a rather (somewhat disappointingly) quick feel to it, much like a bus tour of Europe where you’re not ever allowed off the bus. The scenery is great, but you don’t really get the feeling you’ve been there.
Honestly, I wasn’t there either. I can’t claim I was mailing away to get a copy of the Slay Tracks (1933-1969) 7” vinyl, or even that I had Slanted And Enchanted when it first came out. In fact, to completely ruin my cred, I was likely quite late to the Pavement scene. I don’t honestly remember when I first heard them, but in my formative early university days they were always just there. Other people had their records, and I heard them and I liked them. They were a part of the soundscape. And thank goodness for that.
For every Pearl Jam or Nirvana that got massive radio play in the early 90’s, there was a Guided By Voices or Sonic Youth that kept the glorious underground candle burning. Pavement fell easily into this latter category, no matter how hard the major labels may have tried to rope them into the cash cow holding pen.
Pavement always radiated a kind of slacker-cool. They seemed to do everything as though it were just something they did on weekends. Of course, this was all appearances, and this book tells about some of the hard work involved in their achievement.
Where it falls apart is in the apparent bitterness that came from the ending of the band. No matter what band members say, the lack of closure means there’ll always be a rift. Trying to write a book in that aftermath, Jovanovic was faced with a mighty task indeed. Oh sure, he mostly pulls it off, covering all the things that one could find just about anywhere else (especially on the Slow Century DVD set), but I could really tell that his interviews with band members were strained at times. They’ve all moved on, so why pull off the scabs?
Because we must. Because they do have a legacy, a damn good one indeed. Because they mattered. Because some day down the road, another wave of alt-rock is going to wash over the world and all the young bands will feel the need to name-check their heroes, and Pavement are going to be high up in that list.
Being the collector geek that I am, I have collected all of the albums, most of the singles and EPs, the DVD, and the solo projects. I’m also totally in love with Matador’s gorgeous series of re-issues of the band’s studio albums that have come out in the last couple of years. I never got to see Pavement play live, and that’s OK. I content myself in knowing the members are out there somewhere, doing their own inimitable things, and that what they did definitely stands up to the test of time.
This book is a worthwhile addition to the fan’s collection but, if you’ve already read this far into the review, you knew that already. If you’re new to Pavement you probably couldn’t go wrong in reading this (although I’d tell you to get all of their albums first). It’s cool. Just don’t expect this book to be the last word on the band, because I don’t think it is.