Category: Pixies

Pixies – Doolittle

ARTIST: Pixies  220px-Pixies-Doolittle

TITLE:  Doolittle

YEAR RELEASED: 1989

CHART ACTION: #98 US, #8 UK

SINGLES: Monkey Gone to Heaven (#5 US Modern Rock, #60 UK), Here Comes Your Man (#3 US Modern Rock, #54 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: What alt-rock fan worth his bones can’t quote this record chapter and verse?

LINEUP: Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A commercial breakthrough in the UK, an alternative radio breakthrough in the US, and the launch of the Pixies as a force in the independent world.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The lyrics are still surreal, the guitars are still loud (most of the time), but this time Black Francis’ songs have more of a pop edge to them. They’re short, singable, and memorable. To their credit, this album has never gotten old, no matter how many times you played it.

The two singles were well chosen, as they introduced people to the Pixies’ madness without overwhelming them. But the first four tracks really set the table for the whole thing, especially “Debaser”, where Black Francis screams about that movie by Bunuel and Dali – the one with the eyeball. From there, “Tame”, “Wave of Mutilation” and “I Bleed” follow before you know it.

Again, near the end, the album slows a bit, especially “Silver”. I know Kim Deal was kind of screwed out of songs, but this…well. It’s an acquired taste. The record ends strong with “Gouge Away”, though. Well done through and through.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album only cost $40,000 to make. More than worth it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Oh, yes. Now there are versions with demos, Peel sessions and more.

GRADE: A: Almost, almost the A+. One cut knocks it back. Sorry, Kim.

Pixies – Surfer Rosa

ARTIST: Pixies              220px-SurferRosa

TITLE:  Surfer Rosa

YEAR RELEASED: 1988

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES:  Gigantic (#93 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Vamos, Where Is My Mind, etc. etc.

LINEUP: Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The start of…something. The album that no only kick started alternative rock in the 90’s but also started Steve Albini’s production career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If I may be so bold, that like most Pixies long-player albums, Surfer Rosa runs out of steam at the end. It seems they always either sequence the weaker cuts at the end, or you’re just so overwhelmed by everything your brain just goes mush.

A little column A, a little column B here.

The first nine songs just pummel you with guitars, words, screaming, lyrics, and noise. It’s tremendous! From the relative quiet (hah) of “Bone Machine” and “Break My Body” to the weirdness of “Something Against You” and “Broken Face”, to the culmination of it all in “River Euphrates”, and then the retreat to relative quiet of “Cactus”, the first part of the album is something to behold.

Of the last four, “Vamos”, a re-do from the EP, is fine, but the other three are lesser lights in comparison. In comparison, because the madness that came before it really had no peer in 1988.

Steve Albini’s production is clean and captures the band at their peak. The secret weapon is Joey Santiago, whose guitar playing is raucous. On stage, though, he looks calm and cool, somehow. How can he pull that off?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There are a couple of interludes that detract a little bit from the album after you’ve heard them a few times.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No – but it was on a dual CD with Come on Pilgrim in the 90’s

GRADE: A: The 90’s really started here.

 

Pixies – Come on Pilgrim

ARTIST: Pixies 220px-Come_on_pilgrim
TITLE: Come on Pilgrim
YEAR RELEASED: 1987
CHART ACTION: #5 UK Indie
SINGLES: None, it was an EP
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: How many Pixies fans can sing every word of this thing?
LINEUP: Black Francis, Kim Deal, David Lovering, Joey Santiago
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: 4AD takes eight songs from their demo tape, remix it, and put it out there. Thus starts the Pixies in all their glory and weirdness.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Let’s see: A singer who shouts, screams, barks and croons, and also sings about a song-and-a-half in Spanish. A guitar player that attacks his guitar more or less. Songs about incest, brain damaged people, religion, Puerto Rico, rock and roll culture.

Who would listen to this band at all? Well, we did. We all did.

The Pixies may have grown musically and in terms of production over their too-brief career, but Pixies 101 is right here in this eight-song EP. Black Francis’ lyrics, Kim Deal’s great bass work and backing vocals, Santiago riffing and atypical leads, and Lovering’s solid drumming.

This originally was a two-fer CD with Surfer Rosa, but now it’s streamed and sold on its own. It’s just fabulous.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title, from the song Levitate Me, is derived from a catchphrase of a Christian rock artist from the 80’s

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No..

GRADE: A: No fluff, no head scratching sidetracks. Just straight up Pixies magic.