Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Pixies at the BBC
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
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At the BBC ... YEAH
Adam W. Mico | Madison, WI | 04/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back in 1999, I went into a large record store. In an attempt to find Bjork's original band (The Sugarcubes), I mistakenly picked up The Pixies. Somehow, I associated Bjork with a pixie. Oops, my mistake. When I went home, I tossed in Pixies At The BBC.
Thinking to myself: "Hey, where's Bjork? I do not hear anything that sounds like "Vitamin" or "Hit," huh? Oh, but I like this...really. It kind of reminds me of early Nirvana and I dig the lead singer's sonance."
The next day, I listened again. As a direct result of my subconscious, this CD leapt onto my top shelf.
The Pixies were Black Francis (lead vocals), Kim Deal (background vocals and bass), Joey Santiago (lead guitar) and David Lovering (drums). Pixies At The BBC balanced insanity-riddled chants, harmony, an unorthodox structure and dark balladry. Moods shifted from insane, slaphappy, bittersweet, intense and desperate.
Schizophrenia highlighted the tones of Black Francis' delivery and lyrical contributions. His primal personality was reflected with the dementia that poured from his vocal chords in the demonized cover of the Beatles' "Wild Honey Pie" and "Is She Weird's" progressive deliriousness. Teetering within his periphery were the tones of cryptic melancholy ("Wave of Mutilation"), teenage giddiness ("Down to the Well" and "Hey" respectively) and many others. Although Black Francis' multiple temperaments frequently contributed, "they" were not the only notable contributors to the Pixies' oeuvre.
A combination of the elements from each and/or all of band member's talents glossed every song. Whether it was Deal's harmonies and templates ("Levitate Me" and "Down to the Well"), Lovering's savage pounding ("Dead") and/or Santiago's blustery riff and lick work (entire album), they concertedly championed the Pixies significance. Unfortunately, Francis' solo vision and ego collided with Kim's ever-growing need to be heard and the band (err...Francis) called it quits a decade ago.
Although it is considered a 'live' recording, these BBC sessions did not sound especially unique to the studio versions because they were without audience noise and only "Wave Of Mutilation" was arranged noticeably different. For completists, the "Wave" arrangement, Beatles cover (not on any other official release), raw energy of the songs included and odd yet effective sequencing make this very worthwhile. Pixies At The BBC includes 15 songs that display both recording and track selection excellence, so it's total duration of only 35:23 should not deter any.
My Pixies mistake turned into my richest CD 'find' and I have purchased all of their officially registered and many of their bootleg CDs since. The Pixies now rank as my third favorite musical artist/band (behind only Elvis and Bob Dylan). Collectively, the songs compiled here generally encapsulate the qualities of their brief, but rich recording career (1988-1991). There is no chronological listing of the tracks, thematic or any other recognizable order to them, but somehow (much like the band) they play accomplished "AS IS". Listen to Pixies At The BBC if you want to hear the sound that the White Stripes and Nirvana looted."
Has the definitive version of "Down to the well"
dfle3 | Australia | 03/07/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
The reason I bought this cd was that I had issues with the sound quality on albums like "Surfer Rosa"-sort of muddy, and lacking immediacy. I was hoping the BBC compilation would have a fresher and crisper sound to songs I liked. Generally speaking, the sound quality in compilations like this and the "B Sides" one are superior to that on albums like "Surfer Rosa".
In any case, it was on this cd that I first heard any version of "Down to the well" and I was instantly drawn to it...from the cool Kim Deal incantation throughout the song, to the cool "Creep" like guitar effect in the song [I mean the Radiohead song of this name-maybe Radiohead got this effect by listening to this song in any case]. Listening to the regular album version of this song was a major disappointment...the whole arrangement was inferior to the one in this cd. Kim Deal's vocals are very feint, and the intro isn't as good either.
That song is a good example of compilations like this improving on the originals. The flipside of that is songs like "Monkey gone to Heaven". After falling in love with the album version and then listening this version, this version pretty much spoiled for a while my appreciation of the original version when I came back to it. Even though it's hard to label Francis Black a great vocalist, you appreciate his brilliant theatrics and performance in the original song because it is lacking here. This version, unsurprisingly, also lacks the lush, beautiful orchestral arrangement of the original. The worst bits, I suppose, are where Francis treads on Joe's great guitar solo by adding a few extra words, which puts Joe out of whack for what should be a highlight of the song. More forgivably, Francis varies lyrics in another part of the song...not to any great effect, but it mixes things up in any case.
Other songs I enjoyed on this album were:
"Levitate me"- Francis nearly yodels in this and his word play is nice too. The "oi" chant is more obviously an AC/DC type chant [a la "TNT"] than in the original album version.
"Caribou"-has some typical Francis type screeching and some nice poetic lyrical form-sort of like Haiku?
Some other songs which had something of interest to them:
"Wild honey pie"-another over the top vocal performance by Francis. Has a touch of "London calling" by The Clash to it. I suppose this kind of simple, repetitive lyric works better than other such songs by the band...at least it's funny here.
Perhaps the best example of overly simple lyrics [yet again, the song title is endlessly repeated] being used to good effect is "There goes my gun". Kim does some nice backing vocals here.
"Dead"-nice word games in this song-not very sophisticated though. Touch of the White Stripes about it.
"Subbacultcha"-bass heavy, like a lot of Pixies songs. Has a bass line not unlike the tune to the tv show "Peter Gunn".
"Wave of mutilation"-has an intro which reminded me of Lennon's "Starting over".
"Letter to Memphis"-starts out in hard rock form, verging on heavy metal. An early riff in the song sort of reminded me of the Bay City Rollers, but gosh, my memory of that band was never that strong!
"Ana"-a nice mellow song with Francis having a gentle singing style, unusually. The lead guitar's melody is nice too.
In contrast to "Is she weird"-another bass guitar based song where Francis just goes berko, vocally.
Overall, since there isn't a compilation by this band which compiles all the versions of songs I like best from this band, I'd say that this compilation is good if you want to hear the superior version of "Down to the well". It's not exactly "Essential" Pixies, as "Surfer Rosa" and "Doolittle" are, but if you want to add to your Pixies collection, I can say that albums like "Bossanova" and either this album or "Complete B sides" are definitely worth considering."
Different side of a great band
E. Bain | North Carolina, USA | 10/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was actually the first Pixies album I got (ca. 1998, better late than never) and it's still one of my favorite albums by anybody. The first song is a very creative take on an obscure semi-song from the Beatles' White Album. Black Francis and co.'s screamed version is almost unrecognizable, but in a delightfully ear-splitting way. Most of the songs are stripped to their core essence, highlighting the band's rock-solid songwriting. It also makes an interesting introduction to the band's catalog - sort of like an "alternative" greatest hits album."