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Pixies | Pixies (Cooking Vinyl)
So, must the legacy of all great bands come to this? Seminal. Influential. Frequently fantastic. Of course, the Pixies were all of those things and more. Inevitably though, the last few years has seen this band's grave robbed and corpse picked to an increasingly dwindling and frustrating degree. A best-of, radio sessions collection, b-sides round-up, a woeful 'tribute' album and now this, roughly half of the tape that eventually formed the Pixies debut album, 'Come On Pilgrim'. Little wonder then that the man formally known as Black Francis has long turned his back on this sublime period in his life and instead forged ahead with his own ever-erratic solo career. Long bootlegged, the Pixies 'Purple Tape' is near-infamous, with eight of its tracks selected for their 4AD debut while the remaining nine songs finally appear here, the first time that they have been commercially available in this original form. Hardly left on dust-covered shelves though, all of the material featured here has previously turned-up in re-recorded versions on other Pixies releases, from 'Surfer Rosa' to the final studio album 'Trompe Le Monde'. It's somewhat fortunate then that this self-titled collection from 1987 still amazingly sounds fresh and relevant, hanging together logically as a fully-formed mini-album in its own right too. Obvious highlights here include the detached dynamics of opener Broken Face, the sky-scraping surf-pop hooks of Rock A My Soul and the original version of Here Comes Your Man. Pixies completists, meanwhile, will particularly wish to examine the guitar blizzards and vocal howls of In Heaven which has previously only been heard as a live track. Best of all however is Down To The Well (later of 'Bossanova'), a still mesmerising mix of sinister diversions and lustful urges, the likes of which were later blatantly but brilliantly thieved by PJ Harvey. A curiosity for sure and certainly intended for committed Pixies die-hards only (especially with a running-time of only eighteen minutes!) but if you number yourself amongst those, these ashes of a brilliant band are still worthy of investigation. While far from a resurrection, the much-delayed re-appearance of these demos hardly indicates the final death to the Pixies yet either.

Ian Fletcher
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002