Katrina Mitchell and Stephen Pastel - the core of The Pastels
Picture by Blair Young
Picture by Blair Young
So I thought I would blog on 10 of my favourite songs from the band, following on from similar blogs on The Vaselines and The Lemonheads.
I fell for The Pastels as a teenager and in many ways I am still falling as I learn more about the band, appreciating them even more with each and every passing year. They are the kind of band I wanted to be in as a teenager and they are the kind of band I wish I was in at the age of 43.
The Pastels just do their own thing, in their own way, at their own pace and they do it exceptionally well. The Pastels are cool without wanting to be cool, they have inspired and supported so many bands from Glasgow and beyond.
Thank You For Being You was the first Pastels record I bought. I also had a red Pastels t-shirt from that era and the 1993 Truckload Of Trouble LP that is full of all kinds of gems ranging from singles to a glorious cover of Different Drum and a a brilliant instrumental Kitted Out.
Not surprisingly, there are a few songs from this era of The Pastels that feature in this blog.
I first caught The Pastels live at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in 1994. I love the band on record but I probably love them even more live. There is something about the way Stephen plays his guitar (a beauty) and the way the band gel. I love how the line-up and sound has expanded. I love Katrina's drumming that sounds and looks so effortless and carefree at times and her voice is all kinds of melodic gorgeousness. And I love that live and on record, The Pastels music still has a loving, soulful, homegrown, could fall apart at any moment, type of immediacy and quality to it.
The Pastels are an incredibly important band to (and in) Glasgow. Stephen Pastel formed and released music on the legendary 53rd and 3rd Records and now runs the Geographic label. They have put on bands (and most probably put up bands), championed bands from Teenage Fanclub and The Vaselines through to bands like Spinning Coin and The Orielles from further afield. And they have shared their impeccable taste and knowledge via the support bands they cherry pick to play with them, their social media postings and through Stephen's work at Monorail Records.
Here are 10 of my favourites by The Pastels.
Three minutes and 20 seconds of glorious guitars and gushing lyrics about sunshine, Glasgow and love. Stick this song on the next time you are walking about Glasgow (or any city) in the sunshine and your life will instantly improve.
See the sunshine split those buildings
And I'll feel my heart uplifting
Cause the city casts a magic spell
And my life seems so special
Glasgow is a brilliant city, it has so much to offer and Pastel's love for it comes pouring out in melodies and a love letter in a song.
When the tenement world reveals it's charm
You better grab it fast with both your arms
From the seminal Up For A Bit With The Pastels album this is brilliant. Everything seems to just come together, the guitars, the melodies, Stephen's vocals.
Says she's open like a book
She's got everything I need
Even wants to take the time
To teach me how to read
I wanna build her up, up as tall as a church
Just to to watch her, just to watch her falling down
Vivid Youth w/ Tenniscoats
How gloriously mellow and gorgeous is this? Just so beautiful, sublime and in the moment. Katrina's voice is so gentle and pure. I love the way the melody picks up so naturally for the all ashes are grey in the day section.
Check My Heart
Pure guitar pop perfection. This could warm the coldest of days. Katrina takes lead vocals that are melodic, catchy and sing-song-y. Check My Heart is upbeat and completely infectious. I was overjoyed when The Pastels returned from a long absence with this as the lead single. Sublime!
Katrina sings of grabbing life and love we're on a mountain top and I wanna leap out and get it
And Stephen comes in with the gorgeous I wanted a lifetime, not just to fall in your arms.
I only discovered Million Tears when I came across a YouTube playlist of every single Creation Records release a few years back. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard it before!
This is a pure two minute and 40 second rush of guitar pop brilliance. There is still time for a 30-second intro
Oh if I can't have you I don't want nobody else
And if I can't have you I won't take nobody else
I'd tear myself apart
And cry a million tears
Break down the walls of pain
And fall into the heartache scene
By 1 minute 20 we have reached a little breakdown and instrumental and then we're straight back into the verse and chorus. In truth this song is just one big chorus for me. It is perfect.
Truck Train Tractor
I love the humour and also the urgency in this song. It drives along (pardon the pun) and it always makes me smile.
More incredible guitar pop! When you listen to songs like Comin' Through it is no wonder The Pastels made such an impression, such an impact and created such love from music fans all over the world.
I particularly love the closing 40-seconds or so. The Pastels are absolutely on it, everything collides beautifully as extra layers are added.
Nothing To Be Done
Pastel and Aggi (Annabel) duet and melt hearts. The song flows, crashes and tumbles beautifully as Stephen and Aggi take it in turns to trade verses before their vocals gel towards the end.
Take my hand and take my heart
I shiver when you're near
Baby Honey thrills, it grooves, it drones, it ignites, it excites, it is utterly captivating. Baby Honey is young Glaswegians discovering The Velvet Underground and the thrill of finding out what sounds can be coaxed from an electric guitar.
If I wish upon a star
Take you just the way you are
There is magic in her fingertips
There is magic in the lips I kiss
There is magic in her beautiful eyes
Justify the tears I cry
Thank You For Being You
And we end 10 from The Pastels with the first song of theirs that I fell for. I hope you can hear why! This is guitar pop perfection, Pastel is so in love he needs four words rather than three.
I must say you have impeccable taste as our lists would share at least half of these songs. I have Breaking Lines on mine. That's the flip to Truck Train Tractor... just about my all-around favorite single ever. I have Check My Heart on mine as well, but I also added Secret Music from Slow Summits. Man, I do love that album. Thru' Your Heart would probably make the cut too. I don't know. The more I look at your list the more I think it's just about perfect. This was a most enjoyable read.
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