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In notes accompanying the release of Pavement's The Secret History, Vol. 1, founding band member Spiral Stairs remembers the simple conditions that gave rise to the group's first album, Slanted and Enchanted. Recorded in the garage of the band's first drummer Gary Young, the album was concocted among home-barbequed chicken, some of the band's "Stockton buddies [who] would come over to drink our beer," and a set up of "a few small amps, no bass, with just the guitar played through a bass amp."

When Pavement needed to play together during recording, Young would have to start the tape machine - in an adjacent laundry room - and then run into the garage to play, before going back out again to stop the tape machine between takes.

"It got to the point," writes Stairs, "where Gary got so tired from running back and forth that we started settling for the first or second takes."

This is a beautiful way for listeners to imagine Pavement; to hold in mind the image of innocent, garage-dwelling indie rockers and weight it against the actual sound of each recording. Because that image is there, but so is the sound of a set of thoughtful, obsessive, original and - above all, perhaps - precise musicians.

You'll find the beauty of Pavement in that uneasy combination, and it's evident as much on The Secret History, Vol. 1 as anywhere else: which is why it's such a shame that the compilation doesn't need to exist, unless you specifically want these songs on vinyl. Nothing on this first volume of lesser-known Pavement tracks is very secret at all - just not previously collected on its own. If you've already heard 2002's tenth-anniversary reissue of the group's debut album, Slanted and Enchanted, then you've already heard everything compiled here.

While there's much beauty on The Secret History, Vol. 1 - the wonderful 'So Stark (You're a Skyscraper)' is simultaneously dirty and clean, primitive and meticulous, and above all, reassuringly tight; the lazy-poppy 'Nothing Ever Happens' is truly satisfying; and the sublime 'Here' is probably better in the alternative mix than on the original LP - this release just feels less special than that deluxe edition of Slanted and Enchanted, which packaged the original album with this collection of EP tracks, album outtakes, alternative mixes, John Peel sessions, and live recordings.

There's something to be said for a standalone release of 'rarities' - just not this time. Still, it's always worth listening to Pavement, so there's no reason not to listen to The Secret History, Vol. 1. If you've never listened to the band before, there's no reason not to start here, either - just consider the 2002 Slanted and Enchanted reissue as well. And whatever you do, get hold of the alternative mix of 'Here'.

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