The ‘Almost Pop’ Group: The Pastels

The Pastels

Whether or not you accept the idea that they were actually as once described

“an ‘almost pop’ group”

The Pastels along with such contemporaries as The Pooh Sticks, The Vaselines, The Shop Assistants and Teenage Fanclub; and with the labels that recorded them, Whaam!, Creation, Rough Trade, and Glass Records were at least partially responsible for a genre of pop originally called “shambling” or “anorak” pop, now simply known as Twee or c86, named for the cassette compilation released by influential English music magazine NME.

The sound is one of jangling guitars, vocals that tend to be more out of tune then in tune, a love for 60’s pop and a somewhat naive world view.

In the early 1980’s singer/guitarist Stephen Pastel (McRobbie) and David Keegan co-owned the influential record label 53rd & 3rd, home to bands like The Vaselines and The Soup Dragons. Along with a girl named Aggi Wright they also played in the group The Shop Assistants; eventually Stephen and Aggi would break away to form their own group, The Pastels. The original group also included at various times David Keegan of The Shop Assistants and members of both The Vaselines and Teenage Fanclub.

Primarily a singles band the group didn’t release their first proper album, Up for a Bit With the Pastels (Glass/Big Time) until 1987 (re-released 1991). In the late 1980’s the group added former fan Katrina Mitchell as a permanent member, while still occasionally using Gerard Love of Teenage Fanclub on bass or The Shop Assistants David Keegan on guitar.

The group began the 1990’s with a string of singles and collaboration with Half Japanese’s Jade Fair. Most of the singles, some in remixed form, or with minor alterations would find a place on 1993’s Truckload of Trouble. Besides the early 1990’s singles the album mines their back catalogue, with the singles “Truck Train Tractor,” “Crawl Babies,” and “Comin’ Through,” and two of Thru’ Your Heart five tracks, the title song and “Firebell Ringing.” Cover versions include Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum”, and Daniel Johnston’s “Speeding Motorcycle.” Also included is one track from their collaboration with Jad Fair.

After nearly 15 years together 1995’s Mobile Safari was only The Pastels third studio album. With the core group of Stephen, Aggi and Katrina and help from guitarists David Keegan and bassist Gerard Love, and some lovely guitar work from Luna’s Dean Wareham the album builds upon the groups “shambling pop sound;” and while the vocals are still off key, the fleshed-out arrangements and an emphasis on clear production helps to round off some of the albums sharp edges.

Since Mobile Safari they have been content to collaborate with many of their friends, both on their own releases and as guests on a wide variety of their friends albums. They also wrote the music to the David Mackenzie film, The Last Great Wilderness.

While they still play the occasional show and write music The Pastels, through Domino Records, operate their own Geographic Music and are partners in Glasgow’s Monorail Music shop.




“Heavens Above” (Whaam Records) 1982
“I Wonder Why” (Flexi) (Creation Records) 1983
“I Wonder Why” (Rough Trade) 1983
“Something Going On” (Creation Records) 1984
“Heavens Above / I Wonder Why” (Villa) 1985
“Truck Train Tractor” (7″/12″) (Glass Records) 1987
“Crawl Babies” (7″/12″) (Glass Records) 1987
“Comin’through” (7″/12″) (Glass Records) 1987
“Songs For Children” (Overground)
“Different Drum” (K) 1990
“Speeding Motorcycle” (7″/12″/CD5) (Paperhouse Records) 1991
“Thru’ Your Heart” (7″/12″/CD5) (Paperhouse Records) 1991
“Thank You For Being You” (Paperhouse Records) 1993
“Olympic World Of Pastelism” (7″/CDS) (Domino)
“Yoga” (7″/CDS) (Domino)
“Unfair Kind Of Fame” (2×7″/CD5/12″/CDS) (Up/Domino)
“The Hits Hurt” (7″/CDS) (Domino)


“A Million Tears” (Creation Records) 1984
“I’m Alright With You” (Creation Records) 1985
“Truck Train Tractor / Crawl Babies” (Glass Records) 1987
“Baby You’re Just You” (Chapter 22 Records) 1989
“Yoga” (12″/CD5) (Domino Records) 1994
“Worlds Of Possibility” (12″/CD5) (Domino Records) 1995
“Unfair Kind Of Fame” (12″/CD5) (Domino Records) 1997


Suck On The Pastels (LP) Creation Records 1988
Sittin Pretty (LP/CD) (Chapter 22 Records) 1989
Up For A Bit With The Pastels (LP/CD) (Paperhouse Records) 1991
Mobile Safari (LP/CD) (Domino) 1995
Illumination (Up/Domino) 1997
Illuminati: Pastels Music Remixed (Up/Domino/Dohb) 1998
The Last Great Wilderness (Geographic)


This Could Be The Night (12″/CDS) (Paperhouse Records) 1991
No. 2 (12″/CDS) (Paperhouse Records) 1992


“Something Going On, St… Wow! Wild Summer (LP, MiniAlbum) (Creation Records) 1984
“Baby Honey” Different For Domeheads (LP) (Creation Records) 1985
“Breaking Lines” C86 (LP, Cass) (Rough Trade UK) 1986
“Fateful” Censorship Sucks! (LP) (DDT Records) 1987
“Coming Through” Human Music (CD) (Homestead Records) 1988
“Million Tears” Creation: Flowers In The Sky 1984 – 1987 (CD) (Creation Records) 1988
“Something Going On” Creation: Purple Compilation (CD) (Creation Records) 1988
“Hurricane Fighter Plane” Alive In The Living Room (CD, Album) (Creation Records) 1990
“Baby Honey” Different For Domeheads (CD) (Creation Records) 1990
“Something’s Going On”, … Creation Soup: Volumes One To Five (5xLP, Box) (Creation Records) 1991
“Speedway Star” International Pop Underground Convention (CD, Album) (K) 1992
“Something Going On” Communicate!!!! – Live At Thames Poly (CD) (Overground Records) 1992
“Token Collecting” Un Printemps 95 (CD) (Les Inrockuptibles) 1995
“Unfair Kind Of Fame” The Hits Hurt (CD) (Domino Recording Company Ltd.) 1997
“One Wild Moment (Stere… Up Next (CD) (Up Records) 1998
“Star” Domino On The Wire (CD) (Wire Magazine) 1999
“Hurricane Fighter Plane” Future Pilot A.K.A.: A Galaxy Of Sound (Sulphur Records) 1999
“I Picked A Flower” X-Ray CD#08 (CD) (X-Ray UK) 2003
“Worlds Of Possibility” Worlds Of Possibility (2xCD) (Domino Recording Company Ltd.) 2003
“Truck Train Tractor” Rough Trade Shops – Indiepop 1 (2xCD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 2004
“I’m In Love With A German” Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From The 80s Underground (Rhino Entertainment Company) 2004
“Anne Boleyn” Süddeutsche Zeitung Diskothek 1989 (CD) (Süddeutsche Zeitung) 2005
“Baby Honey” CD86 – 48 Tracks From The Birth Of Indie Pop (2xCD) (Castle Music/Castle Communications) 2006
“Classic Line-Up” Uncut Magazine: The Playlist August (Mojo) 2006

Mobile Safari

Playing Time: 38 minutes 6 seconds

Mobile Safari

1. Exploration Team (3:05)
2. Mandarin (3:26)
3. Yoga (4:18)
4. Mobile Deli (1:33)
5. Exotic Arcade (2:59)
6. Classic Line-up (3:18)
7. Flightpaths To Each Other (2:13)
8. Basement Scam (4:51)
9. Strategic Gear (1:52)
10. Token Collecting (3:13)
11. Coolport (3:32)
12. Worlds Of Possibility (3:46)

Buy Mobile Safari from

Buy Mobile Safari from

Truckload of Trouble

Playing Time: 1 hour 2 minutes 24 seconds

Truckload of Trouble

1. Thank You For Being You (3:50)
2. Thru’ Your Heart (2:55)
3. Firebell Ringing (3:22)
4. Kitted Out (3:31)
5. Comin’ Through (2:43)
6. Over My Shoulder (0:35)
7. Truck Train Tractor (4:20)
8. Crawl Babies (3:18)
9. Nothing To Be Done (3:52)
10. Different Drum (3:09)
11. Not Unloved (2:25)
12. Baby Honey (6:22)
13. Speeding Motorcycle (4:29)
14. Speedway Star (2:45)
15. What You Said (1:32)
16. Dark Side To Your World (6:27)
17. Sometimes I Think About You (3:53)
18. Sign Across Me (2:56)

Truckload of Trouble Part 1

Truckload of Trouble Part 2

Buy Truckload of Trouble from


2 responses to “The ‘Almost Pop’ Group: The Pastels

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "the pastels"

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