Monday, July 14, 2008

Paul Chastain - Halo

I wanted to take a break from my current obsession with dynamic range and compression to offer some really sweet pop music.

Paul Chastain is best known as a member of the long-running indie-rock band Velvet Crush. As I have discussed before there is a long and confusing pre-history to Velvet Crush, involving band names like Bag 'O Shells, The Springfields, The Choo-Choo Train, The Paint Set, and many, many others. It's a history worth exploring. Many of Paul Chastain and Ric Menck's early recordings are chronicled on two excellent CDs: The Ballad Of Ric Menck focuses on the material originally released by The Springfields, while Hey Wimpus: The Early Recordings Of Paul Chastain and Ric Menck reissues material by The Choo-Choo Train (if you poke around Parasol's site, you'll find a few free MP3s from those albums).

But there are many remaining tracks from one or both halves of Velvet Crush's dynamic duo that deserve to be rescued from obscurity and reissued as well. Primary among them is this 1985 EP released by Paul Chastain. The title-track "Halo" is a three-minute blast of perfect pop music. The jangling guitars immediately remind me of early R.E.M., but there is a lightness and sweetness to the track that suggests Chastain was as equally enamored with The Hollies as with The Byrds.

Halo is a very difficult release to track down. I've only ever seen one copy, which I borrowed from my friend Adam. Unfortunately, side-two of his copy has been totally destroyed by what looks to have been an attack by a creature that excretes rubber cement. I have no idea what could have caused this, but there are blotches of goop all over side two that no amount of scrubbing and vacuuming could remove. I considered taking extreme steps like using lighter fluid to dissolve the goop, but since it's not my record I didn't want to do anything too radical.

In any case, in my opinion, this is one of the finest tracks I've ever featured on this site.


Sam Adams said...

I have a copy of this as well, though sadly not the means to transfer it. But if my neighbor ever gets that USB turntable he's been talking about...

Pete Bilderback said...

So how is side two?

Anonymous said...


I released Halo with Paul Chastain back in the day and actually have a few sealed copies left. They are $15 each.

Let me know if you are interested.

Paul Rock
Los Angeles, Ca