Pixies: Death to the Pixies
Death to the Pixies
I WASN'T THERE. When the Pixies released Come On Pilgrim I was a teenager, speeding through the Cuyahoga river valley blasting Deep Purple, scouting out the best place to shoot off bottle rockets. I didn't buy the vinyl editions, didn't see them in clubs, didn't stand outside the rock & roll world with the one of the best rock & roll bands that world never let in. If I had I could unfold a besotted tale, full of pathos and crushing beauty--part rallying cry, part caveat. But I can't.
My love for the Pixies began with Frank Black shouting "how can you free me, how can you free me, how can you free me...when I'm already free," on the solo record he released after his band had been consigned to pebble status on the long, hard road to Nirvana. I learned to play guitar to Teenager of the Year. Black Francis, last year's model, came later. My favorite Pixie's moment is a Black moment: that part in "Debaser" when Frank cut through--really rose above--Kim Deal's chuggalugg new-wave bass lines, Joey Santiago's fire-wall guitar, and David Lovering's funky drumming, to spew art-student bile: "I am un chien Andulusia!"
Though compiled mainly for late bloomers and frat boys, Elektra's two-CD Pixies compilation is a bashing bacchanal. Disc one is one of the greatest greatest-hits sets that never was, and it blows recently issued best-ofs--from X and (sorry Ma) the Replacements--out of the water. Speeding through most of the first side of their fantastic Doolittle, rambling into the hollow-man anthem, "Where Is My Mind?," culminating Kim Deal's first act of God, "Gigantic," these repulsed songs of passion make up the ideal love record for people who can't stand their bodies. It stumbles not once. Disc two is a live record--a bootleg really--and despite questionable sound, it's an utterly undeniable artifact.
This is all life affirming--or I almost convinced myself of that. But then there's the record's reality. Despite Kurt Loder's concerted efforts to push this underground--really bonus baby--rock band through to the mainstream, the Pixies never sold records--something their love for rock & roll music and culture dictated they must do if they were ever going to change the world they didn't ask to inherit. And so they earned, along with so many others, the epochal label "pre-Nirvana." The bands subsequent take on post-Pixies stardom--Frank Black's rock-star-universe-unto-itself, and Kim Deal's well-conceived won't-get-fooled-again attitude--speaks to that fact. Who can blame them? (Laura Sinagra/Jon Dolan)
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