Iterations: Pale Saints – “Sight Of You”

Iterations: Pale Saints – “Sight Of You”
Pale Saints / Barging Into The Presence Of God

Pale Saints are a band I started out with backwards from conventional wisdom, finding a copy of their third and final album – 1994’s Slow Buildings – in a pawn shop CD bin in the mid-’90s. It’s not the one most would recommend since by this point, Ian Masters – the band’s founder and vocalist – had left the band and it was being steered by guitarist Meriel Barham.

It’s only after getting onto streaming platforms did I hear what’s largely held up as their masterpiece, their 1990 debut The Comforts Of Madness, of which this song is a highlight and maybe their signature song. It didn’t debut there, though – it opened their debut 1989 EP Barging Into The Presence Of God, and was compiled on the Japan-only Mrs. Dolphin release in January 1990; the proper release of Madness – with a re-recorded version – came a month later.

Both records were re-released last year for their 30th anniversaries; Madness got a wide release, and Mrs. Dolphin a Record Store Day limited release. To go along with the latter, Masters recorded a video – the song’s first – featuring himself singing the original version of the song. It was curious on a lot of levels, especially since he rarely revisits his Pale Saints days, preferring to focus on his current projects, but also that mind flayer toque. But anniversaries do beget nostalgia, and so in addition to the clip, he agreed to reminisce about the early days of shoegaze with contemporary and fan Steve Queralt of Ride for Sonic Cathedral:

As mentioned, the video used the Mrs. Dolphin version of the song, so here’s the “official” version from The Comforts Of Madness, remastered for the modern age:

And, because it exists, an even earlier version of the song from a Presence Of God demo tape, officially released as the “Original Woodhouse Studio Version” amongst the Madness bonus tracks:

Pale Saints covers don’t abound, but there are some. Dum Dum Girls always wore their dreampop bona-fides just a little up their sleeves, so their busting out a cover of “Sight Of You” in a video session for Fender guitars in 2014:

And then there’s this delicious version of the song by Ride, recorded for their first BBC Radio 1 session in 1990. It made its official debut on their 2003 Waves compilation, which collected all of their BBC sessions from their first incarnation.

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