Wednesday, March 15, 2006
"Doolittle is, on one hand, among the most violent pop albums ever recorded, if not in body count then in the starkness of its calamities. It features rape, mutilation of the eyes, vampirism, suffocation, smothering by tons of garbage, and the chaos of blind gunfire; for the punch line,everybody gets crushed to death.When not killing or maiming, the album turns to depraved sexual loathing and visions of apocalypse. And yet, even with its shrieks and its squalls, it is one of the most tuneful and lovable albums in the canon of alternative rock, and Charles Thompson,a k a Black Francis,a k a Frank Black, has spent the better part o decades insisting to journalists that there is no real meaning to all the horror and dread, that the lyrics are just words that fit together nicely. 'There is no point,' he says. 'The point is to experience it, to enjoy it, to be entertained by it.' "
Quick: what is the most influential band in alternative rock? Is it Nirvana? The Smiths? Or three dudes and one smiley gal from Boston who played an unstable but irresistible combination of screamy noise and exquisite pop? The Pixies, whom Kurt Cobain claimed to be "basically trying to rip off" with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," enjoy a peculiar status in the book of rock: having expired in anger and far from the top of the charts in 1993, they became gods in absentia as generations of fans celebrated them and new bands emulated them throughout the decade. By the time the Pixies made their triumphant return in 2004, "Wave of Mutilation," "Gouge Away," and "Debaser"— violent, inscrutable and sweet at the same time — had become classics.
In a probing new book in Continuum's acclaimed 33 1/3 series, New York Times writer Ben Sisario dissects the Pixies' greatest and most beguiling album, 1989's Doolittle, and examines the band's place in history in light of its reunion. Based on exclusive interviews with Frank Black — with whom Sisario spent days cruising the byways of Oregon in a canary-yellow Cadillac, chatting about Surrealism, sex, and llamas — and members of the Pixies' inner circle, the book is an exhaustively researched look at the album and the people who made it, and a provocative work of criticism.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ben Sisario covers pop music and culture for the New York Times, and has written for Rolling Stone, Blender, New York Press and many other publications. He lives in New York City.
is a series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the past 40 years.
For more information, check out www.33third.blogspot.com
Author: Ben Sisario/ April 2006 / 121pp
Original Paperback: $9.95 ISBN: 0-8264-1774-4
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