Category: Frank Black

Frank Black & The Catholics – Pistolero

ARTIST: Frank Black & the Catholics              220px-Fb-pistolero

TITLE: Pistolero

YEAR RELEASED: 1999

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: I Gotta Move

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Bad Harmony, I Love Your Brain.

LINEUP: Frank Black, Scott Boutier, David McCaffery, Rich Gilbert

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from Frank Black’s group continues his foray into straight rock and roll. The songs are a bit more off-kilter in a Frank Black way.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “More Rock!” is what Frank Black decreed, and thus, the second record from his association with the Catholics rocks in much the same way as the first. Yet here, the songs are more Frank Black-ian, with twists and turns, manic vocals, and off-kilter subjects.

It’s still pretty straight forward, production wise, as it was recorded live to two track. Yet the songs themselves are varied enough to avoid the same-same sound. Black and Rich Gilbert’s guitars mesh well together, though Gilbert’s not as adventurous as Joey Santiago.

It’s not the Pixies, but it’s what we had by him in 1999, and that was fine.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rich Gilbert became the group’s lead guitarist for this album 

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A-:  It’s rock, with weirdness, but not really weird rock.

 

Frank Black & the Catholics – Frank Black & the Catholics

ARTIST: Frank Black & the Catholics         220px-Fbcs

TITLE:  Frank Black & the Catholics

YEAR RELEASED: 1998

CHART ACTION: #61 UK

SINGLES: All My Ghosts (#97 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Back to Rome

LINEUP: Frank Black, Scott Boutier, David McCaffery, Lyle Workman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Pixies frontman forms his own backing band and records a straight forward (well, for him) rock album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sometimes a dude’s just gotta rock, and Frank Black formed the Catholics to do just that.

These 12 tracks are as straightforward rock as Black will get. Yes, there’s some quirks and oddities in the lyrical department, but there’s an immediacy and a grit that some of his other solo work lacked. No tricks here, just two guitars, bass and drums.

Some critics were upset that Black seemingly eschewed his musical quirks for this record. Well, I disagree. It’s not Pixies-level, but it’s a lot better than his last solo album, and is just a good rock album.1998 needed more of them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was recorded live to two-track, and was the first record that was released first on the internet. Also, the record was sequenced in alphabetical order.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: I like the raw, immediate sound and the fact it’s just a rock-and-roll record.

Frank Black – The Cult of Ray

ARTIST: Frank Black 220px-Fbray

TITLE:  The Cult of Ray

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #127 US, #1 US Heatseekers, #39 UK

SINGLES: Men In Black (#37 UK), The Marsist, I Don’t Want to Hurt You (#63)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A few songs may have trickled out on radio.

LINEUP: Frank Black, Scott Boutier, Dave McCaffery, Lyle Worklman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A slight change in direction for this third solo album that doesn’t quite work out.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After two good-to-great solo records, the former Pixies front man comes back with a new-ish band, a new approach, and…convention?

Not everything is conventional, of course. There’s still a little bit of Black’s patented oddness floating about. Though sometimes it seems only in the titles of the songs (“Kicked in the Taco”, “Mosh, Don’t Pass the Guy”) than in the actual execution.

This album didn’t have the sprawling excess of Teenager of the Year, which was a step forward. Yet, there seems to few of ideas instead of too many. There are some good songs here (especially “The Marsist”) and Black wasn’t totally out of ideas (the new band seemed to invigorate him later on), but he seemed coasting here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Most of the backing musicians became The Catholics, Black’s backing band for several years. Also, the title is a reference to author Ray Bradbury.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  Yes. Some Japanese editions had extra cuts.

GRADE: B-: I may have been a little too negative, because there is some good stuff here but it frankly is the first disappointing album coming from Black and the Pixies.

Frank Black – Teenager of the Year

ARTIST: Frank Black 220px-Teenager_of_the_year_cover
TITLE: Teenager of the Year
YEAR RELEASED: 1994
CHART ACTION: #131 US, #2 US Heatseekers, #21 UK
SINGLES: Headache (#10 US Modern Rock, #53 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: College radio played a bundle of these songs.
LINEUP: Black Francis, Eric Drew Feldman, Nick Vincent, Lyle Workman with help from Joey Santiago and Morris Tepper.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A double album of (mostly) delightful songs that could only be from one performer – Frank Black (or Black Francis or whoever).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is technically a double album (but it fit on one CD) – it’s 22 songs for Frank Black being himself. Songs about space, abstract planes, songs only tangentially related to the title, a love song for Pong, and lots of catchy songs with a twisted turn.

Most of this record is great. But…and it’s a big but….22 songs is a bit too much. You focus on the songs that don’t work (and there are a few second-tier songs here) than the songs that do. I think it could have been a great 14-16 track album with the other songs B-sides or on an EP or something.

Still, Frank Black lost nothing since the Pixies split, at least on this record. It’s just full of great, magical nuggets. You just have to skip the chaff if you’re not feeling the whole thing.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Feldman and Tepper played with Captain Beefheart in his later stages as a performer.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: This could have been a solid A (maybe an A+) if some quality control had been exercised. That was the 90’s though – throw EVERYTHING out there. Still, very much recommended to stream.

Frank Black – Frank Black

ARTIST: Frank Black 220px-Frank_black_cover
TITLE: Frank Black
YEAR RELEASED: 1993
CHART ACTION: #117 US, #9 UK
SINGLES: Los Angeles (#6 Modern Rock), Hang on to Your Ego (#8 Modern Rock)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Heard Ramona Sing.
LINEUP: Frank Black, Eric Drew Feldman, Nick Vincent, Joey Santiago
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pixies front man releases solo album after the band goes bust, and it’s kinda like a Pixies album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After Trompe Le Monde and the tour for that album, the Pixies blew apart. It was only a matter of time. Black Francis, not one to lay around, had scraps and bits of songs that he fleshed out in the studio with Feldman. He then invited his compadre Santiago on lead guitar, adapted a new name, and viola, a solo album and career was born.

As for the record, it’s really the next step from Trompe Le Monde, with more emphasis on science fiction and outer space than some Pixies records. What it doesn’t really do is break any new ground. The Pixies were always moving forward – and this record sounds like Black was staying in place. That’s not such a bad thing, really, but it was a bit disappointing at the time.

The songs all could have fit on a Pixies album, though. It definitely filled my Pixies void for a while.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally it was going to be a covers album, but Black had collected enough songs that they only wound up using one cover, a version of the Beach Boys outtake “Hang on to Your Ego.”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B+: Nothing ground breaking or earth shattering, but it’ll do if you’re into the Pixies and Frank Black’s odd, twisted songs.