Estaba pensando sobreviviendo con mi sister en New Jersey
Ella me dijo que es una vida buena alla
Bien rica bien chevere, Y voy! Puneta!
Ahh, that heady aroma of cheap drugs, cattle mutilations, death, religious hypocrisy, aliens, semen, Hispanic sweat and motorbike parts; Ladies & Gentlemen may I introduce my new cologne Eau D’ebaser !! Free human tooth necklace with every bottle sold!
I Goddamn love the Pixies! I came very late to the party, as in my usual far-sighted entirely open-minded manner I decided they were far too trendy and popular to be any good at all, obviously without hearing a single note they ever played. Ho-hum. So neatly side-stepping the chance to see them playing clubs and universities, several friends of mine say seeing them on the Doolittle tour are still the best gigs they have ever been to, I continued in blissful ignorance until I heard ‘Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)’ on the soundtrack to that Christian Slater film I liked, Pump Up The Volume. Come on Pilgrim was the last of their releases I rushed out and bought because it was formed from the slightly touched up demos they were signed on the strength of and released in 1987, so it couldn’t be that good, could it?
Such riches! The woozy, disquieting opener ‘Caribou’ is all about a statement of sound and shows off most of the weapons in the band’s armoury in one go, the precise-but-trying-to-hide-the-fact rhythm section, Joey Santiago’s shrill-like-no-other guitar playing and over all that Frank Black’s I’m-the evil-Boo-Radley serial killer vocals (‘Re-pe-ent!’). For all their manifold unusual and experimental bits I love the way the Pixies were seemingly just totally incapable of suppressing their pop instincts and so you get fantastic harmonies and melodies tucked away in even the most discordant pockets of their sound. This is shown to even better effect on ‘Vamos’ , later re-recorded for Surfer Rosa, where the opening lyrical quote comes from, which starts off somewhere west of acoustic surf rock and ends up somewhere east of crazed.
‘Isla De Encanta’ (a play on Puerto Rico being known as ‘Isla De Enchanta’) comes on like a mariachi Dead Kennedys and which I’ve learned entirely phonetically so I can sing along properly*. ‘Ed is Dead’, reputedly about a brain-damaged friend and whilst it’s not one of my favourites it does show just how much everything was in place for the Pixies right from the get-go, the harmonies, the bass lines, that brilliant sense of space inside the songs, it was all in there from the demo stage, folks!
I love the twisted incest pop of both ‘The Holiday Song’ and ‘Nimrod’s Song’, those dynamics and melodies just set the band so far ahead of their contemporaries and are definitely what gives their songs such a timeless quality for me – any of these tracks sound like they could have been recorded six months ago, rather than 26 years ago, nothing dates them at all. Joey Santiago is such a great melodic player, that in tandem with Kim Deal’s harmonies every parcel of bad-ass craziness here is so sweetly wrapped that it takes a fair amount of unpacking before you realize exactly what you’re dealing with.
Much as I like ‘Levitate Me’, with its misappropriated refrain of, ‘Come on Pilgrim, you know he loves you’ pinched from Larry Norman, the real star here is ‘I’ve Been Tired’, which rocks hard enough to stand with anything the Pixies, or most other bands around, did. It was the Lou Reed reference that grabbed me first time I heard it, that and the fact it was all about trying to get laid,
I said ‘I wanna be a singer like Lou Reed’
‘I like Lou Reed’ she said sticking her tongue in my ear
Let’s go, let’s sit, let’s talk
Politics go so good with beer
Pure wired genius all the way, how many times at work have I felt like screaming ‘Don’t give me no shit because/ I’ve been tired!’ ? about 47 times last week alone. This track just does it for me every which way.
I’ve absolutely no idea how the 2013 version of the Pixies stack up, although I understand that Kims Deal and Shattuck have been and gone from the line-up, I’d imagine they’re fast running out of alternative Kims, especially if the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-Un turns them down …
P.S – Vamos lyrics Translation:
I was thinking surviving with my sister in New Jersey
She told me it’s a good life there
Very good, very nice, Here I Go! Jerk off!
*It’s about Puerto Rico which Black Francis/Frank Black/Charles Thompson went to on exchange from university,
“Isla de Encanta” is about Puerto Rico. It’s about the beaches. I was going to the beach every day, jogging. Just hanging out, playing pool, drinking beer. I lost a lot of weight, actually; I was really thin. It was so hot and humid, and I was running and walking all over the city at all hours of the night. It was a good experience, but I was there for six months and I had had enough” (from this excellent overview in Spin magazine, go read it, its way better than my drivel).