Pixies – The Complete B Sides

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Much has been written about the influence the Pixies had on rock music. Suffice to say, they managed to find the perfect balance between Kim Deal’s elastic bass, Joey Santiago’s searing guitars, Dave Lovering’s thumping drums and the heart-attack vocals of Black Francis (as he was then known). And still they had time to cram more melody into each song than most other bands could dream of.

COMPLETE B-SIDES is a sufficiently explanatory title for me not to have to explain the contents of this record further, except to say that all six UK singles GIGANTIC, MONKEY GONE TO HEAVEN,, HERE COMES YOUR MAN, VELOURIA, DIG FOR FIRE and PLANET OF SOUND) -and one US (“Alec Eiffel”) – are represented in their entirety, in chronological order.

Opening this album, RIVER EUPHRATES contains all the elements I mentioned above, and encapsulates all that was stunning about this legendary band.

The early live tracks (recorded in London) from the “Surfer Rosa” period are pretty mental, including a cover of the LADY IN THE RADIATOR SONG from “Eraserhead”, which, as Black Francis points out in his amusingly self-deprecating liner notes, they used to close their concerts with until he “…discovered a few years later that there were bands all over the world who did this song”.

Elsewhere, we are treated to a wonderful ‘surf’ rendition of WAVE OF MUTILATION, a few live favourites (BUILD HIGH, INTO THE WHITE, WEIRD AT MY SCHOOL) and a couple of choice covers (Neil Young’s I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU and WINTERLONG; and Graham Gouldman’s EVIL HEARTED YOU – sung in Spanish). There are even two videos thrown in for the multimedia-friendly – HERE COMES YOUR MAN and ALLISON.

Of course, this being the Pixies, we also get Dave Lovering singing MAKE BELIEVE, his two-minute-long ode to Debbie Gibson, a cover of the music to a computer game “Theme From Narc”, and a song called VELVETY INSTRUMENTAL VERSION, the original of which didn’t have vocals anyway.

Still, what did we expect? Bands traditionally use their B-sides as an opportunity to push the experimental envelope and The Pixies have always defied convention…put those together and what have we got? This wonderful collection of hook-laden insanity.

One for fans and new initiates alike, although, if you haven’t got their albums already – what are you waiting for?

5 stars