The Vaselines
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The Vaselines Biography

The Vaselines have long been celebrated by musicians and music enthusiasts across genres and across the globe, including super-fan Kurt Cobain. Sub Pop's May 5th release of Enter The Vaselines is an opportunity for those already familiar with the Scottish band's brief career to delve deeper into their body of work, while those new to their music can experience firsthand why so many hold them in such high regard. This new collection is effectively a deluxe-edition reissue of the 1992 Sub Pop release The Way of The Vaselines with a new title and new cover art, both from the band, and a whole lot of new material (the entirety of the 17-song second CD/third LP has been added). Originally mastered from a cassette tape, The Way of The Vaselines compiled the band's two EPs (Son of a Gun and Dying for It) and their sole LP release (Dum-Dum). Enter The Vaselines is the definitive triple LP/double CD Vaselines collection. It includes new mixes and re-mastered versions of everything by The Vaselines, plus never-before-heard demos, and live recordings from 1986 in Bristol and 1988 in London.What follows is from Everett True's contribution to the liner notes for Enter The Vaselines (the other contributor is, appropriately enough, Stephen McRobbie/Pastel). And it provides a better/more entertaining background on The Vaselines than we could possibly come up with on our own. Anyone who bothers to read the following would likely come to the same conclusion, but to avoid the possibility that it's a little inside baseball, the "trio from Olympia (NOT Seattle!)" who Everett refers to below a few times is, we're pretty sure, Nirvana. We're also pretty sure they're from Aberdeen. The same way Olympia, WA was all about Beat Happening during the eighties, Glasgow was all about The Pastels. Anyone with half an ear could hear that. Stephen McRobbie's gang of shabby romantics from Bearsden were not only the finest pop group this side of Orange Juice themselves, but also a major influence on all around. Perhaps it was Stephen's laconic voice, or his deep-rooted love for awkward pop as practised by Jonathan Richman, sixties girl groups and The Velvet Underground. Perhaps it was the way he sang so sweetly with partner Aggi on the deadpan "Nothing to Be Done" that there had to be seediness involved somewhere. Perhaps it was the leather trousers, incongruously worn with anoraks. Perhaps it was the fact Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie looked up to him as some sort of 21-year-old mentor. Perhaps it was his slightly fey refusal to be sucked into rock music's boorish swaggering. Perhaps it was none of these. There's no denying, however, that years before ATP invented the concept of curator figures, Stephen Pastel was a rather intimidating figure in the mid-eighties. Jesus and Mary Chain, Shop Assistants (the exact point where early Ramones meets "Union City Blue" Blondie meets The Shangri-Las), the uber-twee BMX Bandits, and (later) Belle and Sebastian, and - of course - The Vaselines themselves, all benefited from Stephen's patronage. Indeed, when The Vaselines first appeared some time around 1986- coincidentally the same year a rather average tape compilation appeared on the front of the NME - there were many of us who suspected that Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee were simply rather sexy, slightly seedy, figments of Stephen Pastel's fertile imagination. A memorable picnic party on the banks of Loch Lomond, near Glasgow, featuring members of Shop Assistants, Pastels, a future girlfriend and Frances and Eugene themselves (both shy and excruciatingly sexy in the flesh) proved that the group did indeed exist, and were fine indeed. Two EPs followed on Stephen McRobbie, Sandy McClean and David (Shop Assistants) Keegan's 53rd & 3rd label: 1987's Son of a Gun and 1988's Dying for It, the latter of which attained a rather larger degree of fame than anyone expected when a trio from Olympia (NOT Seattle!) covered a brace of songs from it a few years later. (And please could we give a belated shout-out to Mr. McRobbie for his production on both, and to Mr. Keegan for his awesome guitar on the latter?) The first EP I described at the time in the NME as matching the sordidness of Psychic TV to the sensuality of Suicide and the downright depravity of early Scots chart band Altered Images - which seems a fair enough description even now, especially for the Divine cover "You Think You're a Man." Mind you, I used the same sentence to describe a dozen other bands, so don't be too overwhelmed by my prescience. The sole album, 1989's Dum-Dum, featured "Monsterpussy" and "The Day I Was a Horse," which seemed to be pushing the envelope marked "double entendre" a little far, even for this most lovably naughty of couples. I say "couple," but at some point before this Eugene and Frances had augmented their line-up and simultaneously shaken off much of Stephen McRobbie's initial and increasingly disturbing influence by bringing in more members - Eugene's equally sexy brother Charlie on drums, and bassist James Seenan. The album was pretty near perfect and summed up pretty much everything great about pop music (romance, role-play, stand-up drumming, truncated guitar solos, shouting, repetition, pop tunes like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra used to sing, drunkenness) in just over half-an-hour. Realising they had attained near perfection, The Vaselines promptly split up, only to confusingly and briefly reform less than a year later because they were intrigued to meet a certain trio from Olympia (NOT Seattle!) when said trio were due to play the quaint Scots town of Edinburgh. Since then, of course, The Vaselines have bordered on the fringes of the same cult status as that bloke who keeps reappearing in David Lynch movies and no one can quite remember the name of...Having played (and evidently found rewarding) their first-ever US shows in the summer of 2008, leading up to their appearance at Sub Pop's 20th anniversary festival, The Vaselines have plans to tour in tour in the US in May of 2009.
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