Friday, January 05, 2007

The Pale Saints

Today's featured song takes us back in time to the early 1990s when a bunch of pasty-faced Brits managed to temporarily get us out of the mosh pit at Mudhoney and TAD shows in order to more carefully examine our footwear.

The Pale Saints were one of many British "shoegazing" bands, and got lost in the shuffle a bit. The band was less distinguished than their peers My Bloody Valentine (who pushed the sonic envelope so far out on 1991's Loveless that they were never able to create a follow up) and Lush (who had much surer pop sensibilities). The Saints fell somewhere between these two bands; their lush soundscapes were never as adventurous as My Bloody Valentine's, and their songs were not as hook-sure as Lush's. And they had the misfortune of not being as photogenic as the far less interesting Ride. They did however have the good taste to cover my favorite Opal song, "Fell From The Sun," on their self-titled debut.

Their follow-up, In Ribbons, was even more atmospheric than the debut, and featured a cover of Slapp Happy's (via Mazzy Star) "Blue Flower." The band's final album, Slow Buildings, was recorded after the departure of group leader Ian Masters and was unbelievably dull, even by shoegazer standards (whose musical aesthetic has a certain amount of dullness built into it).

The Little Hits website has made the Opal/Clay Allison version of "Fell From the Sun" available if you'd like to do a bit of compare and contrast. One of these days I'm going to get around to ripping my copy of Opal's difficult to find Early Recordings LP, and will post something else from the album.


Anonymous said...

I guess there was a lot of shoegazer/Dinosaur Jr. overlap in the UK. Makes sense. Dinosaur Jr. played with My Bloody Valentine on at least one tour. Boy, was it loud! I mean, Wow!

God Bless James Brown.

Pete Bilderback said...

I never saw MBV live. It would have been interesting to see how they pulled off performing some of the material from Loveless (which sometimes featured as many as 100 multi-tracked guitars). Sounds like they made up the difference with sheer volume.

I saw Dino Jr. at least once at the 9:30 Club in D.C. I think it was on the Bug tour. I would have thought I would have seen them more than that, but that's the only show I can recall.

Anonymous said...

I read an interview with Shields where he claimed the guitar sound on Loveless was created by no more than 3 or 4 guitar tracks and that the unique sound comes from integration of whammy and distortion effects. I tend to doubt that this is true for all of the tracks but could be the case with most of the album. I never saw MBV live but I tend to believe that the essence of the guitar sounds probably can be created live.

Pete Bilderback said...

Actually, I have no idea how they got that guitar sound. I remember being told that they had tracked up to 100 guitars, but that was by a 17 year-old super fan of the band, and I believed her.