Wowee Zowee

Wowee Zowee

3.0 1
by Pavement

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By the time Pavement released their third album in 1995, they'd become the poster boys for brainy indie-rock, reeling in the hipsters with a brilliantly fractured debut and crossing over to the Lollapalooza set with their sophomore effort's irresistible pop hooks. Thanks to Matador Records' impeccably curated reissue series, new fans and old alike can retrace Pavement…  See more details below


By the time Pavement released their third album in 1995, they'd become the poster boys for brainy indie-rock, reeling in the hipsters with a brilliantly fractured debut and crossing over to the Lollapalooza set with their sophomore effort's irresistible pop hooks. Thanks to Matador Records' impeccably curated reissue series, new fans and old alike can retrace Pavement's footsteps a decade after the fact, and the "Sordid Sentinels" edition of Wowee Zowee easily matches the standards set by the repackaged Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. The most eclectic and unpredictable of Pavement's albums, Wowee Zowee veers from the nearly sentimental "We Dance" through the lurching rhythms of alternative radio semi-hit "Rattled by the Rush," toward the monotone punk stomp of "Serpentine Pad" and the country twang of "Father to a Sister of Thought" -- and that's just on the first half. It may have alienated some of the band's more recent converts when it came out -- it almost seems calculated to do so -- but heard today, the album seems just as great as its predecessors, partly because of how it challenges the listener to reconcile its contradictions. But all that is old news: For the reissue, the original 18 tracks have been expanded to a whopping 50, including a full archive of B-sides and other non-album tracks from the Wowee era, along with a handful of previously unreleased session outtakes. Live recordings from 1994-95, mostly gathered from radio sessions, are at the heart of the second disc, offering a few of the album's songs in looser versions ("Fight This Generation" almost doubles in length) while also adding new takes on earlier favorites like "Box Elder." Stephen Malkmus and company still had another pair of fine albums in their future, but Wowee Zowee found them at their most playful, confident, and challenging -- a combination that explains why these songs still sound as fresh as they ever did.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Unlike the double-disc reissues of Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, the expanded re-release of Wowee Zowee -- subtitled the Sordid Sentinels Edition -- appeared a year after the album's tenth anniversary, but since this re-release maintains the standard of excellence set by the previous reissues, it seems a little churlish to complain about a year's wait. Likewise, it seems a bit ungrateful to complain that there's not as much rare or unheard music here as there was on either S&E or CR, CR, because the very nature of the sprawling Wowee Zowee meant there wasn't much left in the vaults; it was structured like a classic, messy double-album, spilling over with ideas and masterpieces jutting up against irresistible throwaways that would usually be tucked away as B-sides. As such, there aren't many unheard songs here: two instrumental fragments, "Sordid" and "Sentinel," the former lasting 28 seconds and the latter clocking in at half that; the shambling, rambling "Stray Fire," as compressed and thin as a demo, that flows from laconic country-rock to a steady groove not dissimilar to the second half of "Fight This Generation"; and "Soul Food," an enjoyable goof accurately billed as a "jam session" in the liner notes and not much more than that. This lack of new tunes -- and what new tunes that are here are relatively slight -- may come as a disappointment to some fans, but by any other measure, this Sordid Sentinels Edition is a stellar expansion of the original album. The non-LP material Pavement put out in the year following the spring 1995 release of Wowee Zowee was on par with the album. There are the B-sides for "Rattled by the Rush" and "Father to a Sister of a Thought," highlighted by the manic "False Skorpion," the moody "Brink of the Clouds," "Kris Kraft" with its overly complicated riff, and the wonderful country-rock "Easily Fooled," a song so good it appears here three times, once in its studio incarnation, once in a BBC Session for Steve Lamacq in March 1995, and once for an Australian radio performance from the summer of 1994. Those two radio shows make up for the bulk of the second disc, and there is some wonderful material here, too, including a medley of "Golden Boys/Serpentine Pad" for Lamacq and a version of "Box Elder" that opens with a ZZ Top-styled boogie then crashes into steady rolling version of one of the band's standards. There's also the Pacific Trim EP, with its priceless "Give It a Day" -- as lovely a song as Pavement ever cut -- and "Gangsters & Pranksters," a joke that retains its punch after a decade. Their contributions to the I Shot Andy Warhol soundtrack (the slow-churning "Sensitive Euro Man") and Brain Candy soundtrack (the bright, incandescent "Painted Soldiers") are here, as is "It's a Hectic World," their contribution to the Homage: Lots of Bands Doing Descendents' Songs tribute album, and "No More Kings," their contribution to the Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks tribute album which sounds as if it should have been included on the second half of Wowee Zowee itself. Finally, there's a previously unreleased alternate mix of "We Dance" and "Dancing with the Elders," an acoustic version of "We Dance" with a rocking coda that was originally released as Pavement's half of a split single with Medusa Cyclone. By any measure, this is a generous reissue: not only is it a lengthy 50 tracks, but the music is all good. For those who already have the singles and tribute albums, perhaps even the bootlegs, this is a handy way to round up the rarities, and for those that have never heard this stray slack, they're in for a treat: this is Pavement in its prime.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Matador Records


Disc 1

  1. We Dance
  2. Rattled by the Rush
  3. Black Out
  4. Brinx Job
  5. Grounded
  6. Serpentine Pad
  7. Motion Suggests Itself
  8. Father to a Sister of Thought
  9. Extradition
  10. Best Friend's Arm
  11. Grave Architecture
  12. At & T
  13. Flux = Rad
  14. Fight This Generation
  15. Kennel District
  16. Pueblo
  17. Half a Canyon
  18. Western Homes
  19. Sordid
  20. Brink of the Clouds
  21. False Skorpion
  22. Easily Fooled
  23. Kris Kraft
  24. Mussle Rock (Is a Horse in Transition)
  25. Give It a Day
  26. Gangsters & Pranksters
  27. Saganaw
  28. I Love Perth
  29. Sentinel

Disc 2

  1. Sensitive Euro Man
  2. Stray Fire
  3. Fight This Generation
  4. Easily Fooled
  5. Soul Food
  6. It's a Hectic World
  7. Kris Kraft
  8. Golden Boys/Serpentine Pad
  9. Painted Soldiers
  10. I Love Perth
  11. Dancing with the Elders
  12. Half a Canyon
  13. Best Friend's Arm
  14. Brink of the Clouds/Candylad
  15. Unfair
  16. Easily Fooled
  17. Heaven Is a Truck
  18. Box Elder
  19. No More Kings
  20. Painted Soldiers
  21. We Dance

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Pavement   Primary Artist
Doug Easley   Piano,Pedal Steel Guitar
Steve West   Group Member
Bob Nastanovich   Group Member
Mark Ohe   Chant
Sibel Firat   Cello
Mark Ibold   Group Member
Jesper Eklow   Chant

Technical Credits

Doug Easley   Engineer,Liner Notes
Davis McCain   Engineer
Mark Ohe   Art Direction
Mark Venezia   Engineer
Frank Longo   Booklet Design
Lynn Ahrens   Composer
Steve Keene   Paintings,Original Cover Artwork
Jesper Eklow   Contributor
Hans Bunt   Engineer
Firat   Contributor
Armilite P. Rifle   Liner Notes

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