An enlightening e-mail popped into the inbox recently from an reader who has been known to leave behind some nice comments:-
Somewhat surprisingly (to me!), you’ve never featured Pixies on your blog and to me they are the greatest band there’s ever been, one I’ve seen more than most others and have listened to for over a quarter of a century. So if you don’t mind, here’s an “Imaginary Compilation Album” for your series thats if you actually like them! I’m sure you and your readers are familiar with them or at least their more famous songs, so this is just a collection of my favourites that’s representative of their whole career but misses out the ones that everyone might know. I’ve also tried to include alternate versions ‘rarities’ where possible. Apologies if I ramble in places – it makes me appreciate what you do all the more, it’s not easy writing coherently about your favourite music! And I own everything on vinyl – no cheating!
It was also somewhat surprising to me that, after more than 500 postings on this particular blog that I hadn’t once featured any songs by Pixies when they had been a bit of a staple over at the old place. It’s also great that someone goes to the trouble of putting the imaginary compilation LP together as they are time-consuming pieces, not just in terms of the words for the piece but listening to the back catalogue in some depth to get down to the final selection. Anyway, here’s Jimdoes’ very fine take on the finest band to ever emerge from Boston U.S.A.:-
1. BONE MACHINE
Let’s start at the beginning. The beginning for me, anyway – the first Pixies song I ever heard – the opening track on Surfer Rosa recorded onto a C90 tape with AR Kane’s 69 on the other side. Believe it or not, back in 1988 this really did sound like nothing else – to me anyway – nothing like the indie music that I’d grown to love and nothing that you could hear on the radio. And what a great introduction to a band – each instrument comes in at different times to create a glorious noise with Black Francis barking and howling over the top of it – to this day I’m not really sure what he says or what it all means, but to me that’s part of the joy of this band. And I think it was the song to which I bust my nose stage diving to at The Town and Country Club – but that’s another story.
2. BLUE EYED HEXE
And just to show they’ve still got it – from their recent, underrated LP. It rocks in a way that only the Pixies can. I know it’s ‘Pixies’, not ‘The Pixies’ but sometimes it just sounds funny without the ‘The’. Anyway this is one of my most listened to songs from 2014 – I wasn’t expecting much from the album (and with an embarrassing title like ‘Indie Cindy’, who can blame me) but it goes to show that Deal or No Deal, they can still produce a quite wonderful noise.
3. DOWN TO THE WELL
I got hold of this song as a track on a free EP with Sounds, released just after Surfer Rosa, although this version is from a session they did at Maida Vale. Originally recorded as a demo before Surfer Rosa, I fully expected this to appear on the follow-up, Doolittle but I’m guessing that they had so many great songs recorded that they just held it back till Bossanova. My favourite line is “What matter does it make if there are favourite songs playing in my head” which could well be a mantra for my life! Anyway, it’s about sex and alien abduction – what could be more Pixies than that?
Pixies were always a great band to jump around, scream and go nuts to – but I love their slow songs as much as their fast noisy ones – loudQUIETloud and all that. This is a live version from the tour they did where they played Doolittle in order plus assorted B-sides. Just listening to the audience in this version really brings home what a loved band they are. I was lucky enough to see them a fair few times before they originally split up and was young then so spent most of the gigs going bananas, as you do. I always looked back fondly on those days and as Pixies influence grew was happy I’d seen them. So when they reformed it was incredible going back and seeing songs live that I’d cherished over the years – there was a feeling of trepidation that they might just ruin things but they were as good as they ever were – and I found there was still a bit of the mosh pit left me.
5. INTO THE WHITE
Recorded at the time when Pixies really could do no wrong – every song was so amazing that they’d put tracks like this as B-sides. And one of only a couple of songs that features Kim Deal on lead vocals. I can remember buying the 12” of Here Comes Your Man just to get this song which they’d been playing live for a while. Best sleeve for a Pixies record too – I used to have a massive poster of it on my student bedroom wall.
Always my favourite song live – for Joey Santiago’s amazing guitar work – the way it just goes nuts in the middle loads of feedback and echo – he plays that bit with a drumstick or whatever else is at hand. But also for the way that Black Francis’ rhythm guitar holds everything together and stops the song descending into chaos. I’ve included an epic version which was their closing song when they played at Brixton Academy on their original comeback tour on June 5 2004 – a gig I was lucky enough to attend. And for some strange reason it features on both Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa although I’ve never been able to notice much difference between the two of them. Vamos a jugar por la playa, indeed.
7. MOTORWAY TO ROSWELL
People often say that the last two Pixies albums aren’t as good as the first two. I think they are just different but equally good. They couldn’t really have made another Doolittle without sounding a little tired. And it’s great when bands evolve – it’s not a complete reinvention. Anyway I think of this album as the shiny album – everything seems to have a sheen to it if that doesn’t sound too weird. Especially the sounds at the beginning of this song – probably the most ‘space’ and ‘sci-fi’ song they recorded.
8. NIMROD’S SON
I can’t think about most Pixies songs without thinking about them being performed live – and that means thousands of people shouting “You are the son of a mother fucker”. An absolute joy.
My favourite song off my favourite album – it just about beats Gigantic. Impossible to articulate what it means to me, I’ve loved it for so long.
10. HEAD ON
Pixies made some great cover versions – and this rendition of The Jesus and Mary Chain classic is my favourite. I’m biased but much as I like the original, I think this version is better!
So there’s ten songs – it’s been incredibly hard to choose just ten. I could easily have picked another ten. And I’ve resisted the urge to put them in alphabetical order like they did with their set lists back in the day!
mp3 : Pixies – Bone Machine
mp3 : Pixies – Blue Eyed Hexe
mp3 : Pixies – Down To The Well (session)
mp3 : Pixies – Hey (live)
mp3 : Pixies – Into The White
mp3 : Pixies – Vamos (live)
mp3 : Pixies – Motorway To Rosewell
mp3 : Pixies – Nimrod’s Son
mp3 : Pixies – Cactus
mp3 : Pixies – Head On
Hidden Bonus Track
mp3 : Pixies – There Goes My Gun (live)