Mutilation, molestation, incest, dresses soaked in blood, white women craving sex with big black men, Spanish beach boys without a beach and more incest; Boston’s Pixies were a strange group in a strange land who took all that punk rock had constructed in the US hinterlands since the late seventies, added in mutant Spanglish, Old Testament sins and the old weird America, and gave rock’n’roll back its madness and its mystery.
Surfer Rosa, their first album proper after the excellent 20 minute Come On Pilgrim, introduced us to a band who on the one hand had a fat, nerdy lead singer called Black Francis in cheap shirt and jeans who sounded completely unhinged, and on the other had his nemesis, a smack addled female bassist/singer called Kim Deal who was always grinning cheerily and insisted on calling herself Mrs John Murphy. The other two were the other two. They played guitar and drums. That’s all we needed to know.
Yet together they provided solid evidence for the theory that the darkest and most violent thinking is always done by the quiet ones next door. In their regular life they all behaved like Norman and Norma Normal but when they picked up their instruments, all primal rock’n’roll hell was let loose. Their speciality was a quiet bass driven bit for the verse, then some brief warning signal, then WAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!!! for the chorus. Kurt Cobain liked it so much he bought the copyright. If any band were acting out all their neuroses, perversions and creepy thoughts entirely through song, only to become your dull, dumpy neighbour in the real world, it was the Pixies.
Their entire eighties and nineties catalogue is a torrent of rock’n’roll ideas which could have come from Charles Thompson/Black Francis/Frank Black’s childhood, or his comic book collection, or the time he spent living the hobo life in Puerto Rico, or The Bible, or an atlas, or the infamous advert with which he recruited his fellow Pixies asking for musicians into Husker Du and sixties folk popper’s Peter, Paul & Mary. Their incendiary, hilarious, physical and wild chemistry could have come from all of these or nowhere. That’s what makes them so fucking great. And I haven’t even mentioned Vaughn Oliver’s sublime artwork!
1. Broken Face / The Purple Tape Demos / March 1987
2. Here Comes Your Man / The Purple Tape Demos / March 1987
3. Caribou / Come On Pilgrim / September 1987
4. Ed Is Dead / Come On Pilgrim / September 1987
5. Levitate Me / Come On Pilgrim / September 1987
6. Bone Machine / Surfer Rosa / March 1988
7. Break My Body / Surfer Rosa / March 1988
8. River Euphrates / Surfer Rosa / March 1988
9. Cactus / Surfer Rosa / March 1988
10. Tame / Doolittle / April 1989
11. Monkey Gone To Heaven / Doolittle / April 1989
12. Gouge Away / Doolittle / April 1989
13. Velouria / Bossanova / August 1990
14. Dig For Fire / Bossanova / August 1990
15. Planet Of Sound / Trompe Le Monde / September 1991
16. Alec Eiffel / Trompe Le Monde / September 1991
17. U-Mass / Trompe Le Monde / September 1991
18. Indie Cindy / Indie Cindy / April 2014
19. Bagboy / Indie Cindy / April 2014
20. Another Toe In The Ocean / Indie Cindy / April 2014