Pixies At The BBC


4AD/Elektra, 1998


REVIEW BY: Adam Mico


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.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

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.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2003 Adam Mico and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 4AD/Elektra, and is used for informational purposes only.