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Death To The Pixies

Along with Hüsker Dü, the Pixies was the most important thing to happen in American Rock-on-the-wild-side back in the 80's. Thanks to these two groups the genre known as "alternative" was launched to bigger masses. They were both, and still are, highly influential for the more creative and "demanding" bands of the younger generation, the children of punky spirits. Death To The Pixies is the memorial album for the band many thought to be the leading star of creative rock music during the 90's. Boston-band the Pixies came to an end in 1992, after releasing 5 albums, when they, well, wanted to do something else. Say hello to: Black Francis (a.k.a. Charles Michael Thompson Kittridge IV(!), vocals, guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vox), Joey Santiago (guitars), and David Lovering (drums, vox). Welcome to Pixies' planet of sound.

As a perfect kick-start for a collection of Pixies-classics we get served Cecilia Ann from their 4th album, Bossanova (90), as a starter. It's an instant instrumental of galloping surf-punk, lasting only 2 minutes, but presenting what the Pixies was all about: punch and energy. Both surf and punk could easily be mentioned as two genres from where the band picked quite some inspiration and attitude. Pixies was all about energy, aggression, and steam. They could demonstrate the wildest and most brutal music, and in the next moment become soft and gentle. One could say they were masters of dynamics.

There's no big secret that Black Francis was the chief of the band. He wrote all their songs, except the raw and beautiful Gigantic, from album #2, Surfer Rosa (88), co-written with bass-lady Kim Deal (or Mrs. John Murphy as she was credited on the two first albums). The lyrical world of Black Francis is quite something. He's telling the weirdest stories of odd sex, debasement, mutilation, violence, and other extremities, mixed together and presented as the most bizzarre and/or surreal tales you won't dare to imagine. Of many compared to movies by director David Lynch, such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet. The Pixies actually performed and recorded the song In Heaven (Lady in the radiator song), written by P.Ivers and David Lynch. And in the remarkable, and absolutely stunning song Debaser, we get presented to "pictures" from the art-collage-film Un Chien Andalou, created by the Spanish artists Louis Bunuel and Salvador Dali in 1929. (I can't even think of that scene without getting dizzy.) And as we're talking of Spain: Black Francis did quite some "flirtation" with the Spanish language (he lived in Puerto Rico for a time) in many of his songs, or lyrics.

Another trademark of the Pixies was the voice of Black Francis. So intense, so all over, giving everything all the time. Shouting, screaming, mumbling, whispering, grunting. It's hard to describe it, you must hear, or feel it yourself. All this, together with the simple, bubbling basslines by Kim (plus her sweet, and somewhat quirky backing vocals), the fuzzed and distorted, but, yet, controlled guitar-noise from the hands and fingers of Joey Santiago, and the energic and very tight drumming by Mr. David Lovering, made the ingenius sound of the Pixies. Plus, of course, a load of brilliant songs. Highly engaging, and most of the time so catchy and hummable.

This collection picks from all the 5 albums, but the best represented one is Doolittle (89), their third, and my very favourite. Six songs, and not one too many! Among them the already mentioned Debaser, plus the awesome Gouge Away, and the more "quiet" Wave Of Mutilation. There are 3 songs taken from their 1987 debut, Come On Pilgrim, and one of them is Holiday Song, another energizer, and a long time favourite. Plus of course the elegant and wizzardious Caribou. Death To The Pixies also include 3 songs from Surfer Rosa (check out the paranoia of Where Is My Mind, another classic!), and 3 from Bossanova as well. The latter being their lightest album, if one can say so. Their final album, Trompe Le Monde (91), has only gotten two songs put on this compilation. Instead of trying to cash in on top their carreer, they were back in the raw, without much compromising, and, lyrically, travelling off planet Earth: singing of space, the Olympus Mons, Roswell, distance=rate X time, and so on.

Of course there are songs that should've been on a Pixies-collection which aren't to be found on this one. I guess everyone with a "relationship" to the music of the Pixies have some private opinion about this. Nevertheless, this album shows the incredible qualities of a band that lived to short, ending in a sad and touchy break-up.

For friends, this album is nothing but a collection of good memories, since there isn't any new, unreleased material to find on it. For foe, this must be the perfect Trojan horse to let inside; so that the Pixies can do a surprise attack and stab you gently in the back. If you dare to. You should. BUT; if you're a new-comer, thinking of buying this 'Best Of'-record, I recommend you to think twice and invest in all the five regular albums instead.

Once again I step over to my player to put on the Pixes. Aaaaah! Bliss and magic! It's hard, if not impossible to sit ..... still .... when the music .... swirls ..... out of the ...... speakers ...... must ...... get up ... to ...... dance ..... jump ..... all ....... over ... the ..... floor .... it ..... is ...... so ..... wild ..... must ...... move ........

Copyright © 1997 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Pixies articles/reviews: Head Carrier, Hollywood Holidays - The Classic 1991 Radio Broadcast, Indie Cindy, Pixies, The Complete B Sides.

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