Generally regarded as one of the most influential bands of the 1980s, the Pixies flame has kept burning long since their split in 1992. It's impossible to understate just how important Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering were if you were even vaguely interested in alternative music during the late '80s.
They were one of the first bands to meld melodic pop to some genuinely terrifying noise and make it sound like nothing else on earth. Back in 1987, it was both unsettling and exhilarating to listen to a song like Nimrod's Son - a Latin-tinged punk masterpiece which included Black Francis hollering the immortal line, "My sister held me close and whispered to my bleeding head - you are the son of a motherf**ker."
Now they're back for a comeback tour and early reports from the United States indicate that this is one reunion which won't leave fans bitterly disappointed. This DVD is intended as a companion piece to the Wave Of Mutilation compilation and is a must buy for both hardcore Pixies fans and those curious to know who these strange Bostonians who inspired both Nirvana and Radiohead actually were.
A good starting point for the uninitiated is the documentary on this DVD, Gouge. This is an interesting 50 minutes that traces the band's formation, from the release of the classic Surfer Rosa and Doolittle right up to the underrated final album, Trompe Le Monde. All the Pixies are interviewed (except for, curiously, Kim Deal who's nowhere to be seen) together with producers Gil Norton and Steve Albini.
Also included on the documentary are a whole range of celebrity fans, including Thom Yorke, Bono, Polly Harvey, Badly Drawn Boy and David Bowie (who gets himself into a rather pretentious mess when trying to explain why the Pixies became so influential). We get to hear what the initial influences on the band were (Peter Paul And Mary, The Beatles and Rush apparently), and to see how the ravages of age have affected the band (Joey Santiago now looks a dead ringer for Huey Morgan from Fun Loving Criminals while Black Francis has aged rather less well).
There's also archive footage of gigs mixed in with the interviews, including a fascinating early video shoot of all the band together for the first time. Not to mention the revelation from Johnny Greenwood that Radiohead recorded Kid A and Amnesiac as they were sick of ripping off Pixie riffs. The countless stream of celebrity fans becomes a bit grating after a while, but it just goes to show how highly regarded they were amongst their peers.
The hardcore fan though will buy the DVD for the live section. This is a 50 minute set from London's Town And Country Club (now known as The Forum) from 1988 when the band supported Throwing Muses. Although the presentation is not exactly cutting edge - the camera work is more of the point and shoot variety rather than anything particularly flashy - this hardly matters. This was the Pixies at their most vital, coming off the back of the Surfer Rosa album.
Black Francis looks impossibly young with a full head of hair, while Kim Deal wears a deliciously saucy grin on her face for the entire duration. The music, of course, is just incredible. From the opening rush of The Holiday Song, through Deal's showpiece of the wonderful Gigantic, to the manic noise-fest of Vamos, every song is a stone cold classic. Finishing with a frightening version of The Beatles' Wild Honey Pie, the concert perfectly captures the energy and intensity of the Pixies live. If you never had the chance to see them live and missed out on tickets for the forthcoming summer gigs, this is the next best thing.
The additional material on the DVD is mainly superfluous. The Pixies were never the most visual of bands, a fact which the videos collected here seem to prove. The songs are accompanied by either blurry, out of focus, self-consciously arty camerawork (as in Monkey Gone To Heaven or Debaser) or odd ideas that the band don't seem entirely comfortable with (such as playing in a wind tunnel for Alec Eiffel). The nadir is reached on Velouria which features four minutes of the band scampering over rocks in slow motion.
There's also a 30 minute "behind the scenes" video of the band on tour, which is fun for the fan, but hardly vital. The main selling point of the DVD will be the live footage and the documentary, and these alone are worth the price of the disc. Every record collection should already have all five Pixies albums - this DVD is the perfect accompaniment to them.