One of a whole series of ‘best of’ albums released by 4AD of late, this one comes with two videos in addition to 19 tracks and showcases songs that weren’t singles, but rather were the flipsides.
Ordinarily such an exercise would be entirely without purpose, but Pixies were no ordinary band and, as a consequence, this is no ordinary album of B sides.
Often cited as the last of the great punk bands, Pixies produced five rather fine albums, these being Come On Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde, between 1987 and 1991, just before grunge became the mainstay of the alternative/independent music scene.
You can hear influences of Pixies in bands from that period and since, with Bailey’s Walk sounding like Nirvana, largely due to the vocals and the pace. Those five albums, however, did not include the sort of live recordings we get here which demonstrate the band’s energy so vividly, with Joey Santiago’s lead guitar going totally manic on Vamos, recorded live for the 1988 single Gigantic. Black Francis’ vocals are no less crazy, veering between languages and encompassing the classic punk modes of singing – i.e. speaking and shouting – in quite wonderful style. But then the tender Wave Of Mutilation turns up and shows that he really can sing rather handily.
Kim Deal is on hand for vocal duties on Into The White and I’ve Been Waiting For You and we even get cover versions of songs by Neil Young and The Yardbirds on this collection, partnered entirely convincingly with the Eraserhead tune In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song).
Unusually for a B sides album, this one is accessible for people who didn’t hear the band first time round but it would be fair to suggest that they listen to the original albums first. Great though Manta Ray and Weird At My School are, within the punk genre, they are not so much an introduction to the band as a filling-in of blanks.