Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Pixies: Dig For Fire

Garychching over at Always Searching for Music recently solicited for readers' favourite Pixies song, Without thinking much I typed out "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and clicked post comment. Then a wiser Longy from Punk Friction chimed in with, 'Today it's "Debaser". Of course, it always shifts, settling on on final favourite Pixies song is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. Perhaps today I'll choose a less obvious song.

The Pixies we're never 'my' band. The alterna-types a couple of years younger than me (the ones who thought the Church were revolutionary and bought everything on 4AD whether it was the Pixies or Dead Can Dance) adopted them. However, one of the aforementioned altera-types lent me a cassette of Surfer Rosa and I remember listening to it on my Walkman as I walked to her house down the dark streets of North Kildonan. When that voice barked, "You touch my stuff you fuckin' die" I whirled around dead sure someone was gonna knife me. It took a few seconds for me to realize it had been on the tape. But that tape held more such shocking moments not the least of which was "Gigiantic" with it's transfixing juxtaposition of noise and melody in a way that must have pleased Hüsker Dü if not necessarily Peter, Paul and Mary.

Now "Dig For Fire", from 1990's Bossonova, makes up what it lacks in shocking newness with breath-taking intricacy. The song is anchored by a a fascinating central metaphor (for his love of twisted morality tales, Frank Black's the Flannery O'Connor of rock n' roll). Of course what holds us is the finely detailed melodic structure, not just that unforgettable chorus but those huge layers of guitar which are by turns surf-y, distorted and stuttering, which is as resplendent as a Gothic Southern mansion.
(As a bonus here, you get another surf instrumental, a fine cover of Neil Young's "Helpless" and "Santos" which sounds, well, like a Pixies B-side.)

Support the band!


  1. Nice post, beutfully written Jeffen, I also agree Lomgys reply was the smart one.

  2. Thanks Gary, for the fine words and the inspiration for the post.

  3. C'mon boys you are embarressing me now lol.

    Agree with Gary...a beautifully written post and Neil Young's Winterland is one of those rare examples when the cover version is better than the original.

    Some of Frank Blacks solo stuff is well worth a listen too if you haven't already. Teenager Of The Year being my particular favourite.

  4. For me every Pixies cover is perfect and better than the orginal. Their verison of JMC's Head On is outstanding (I tihnk the Reid Brothers even said, that's what Head On was meant to sound like).

    Longy your right (again) Frank Blacks solo stuff is also brillaint, especially the album you named, His voer of the Beach Boys "Hang On To Your Ego" is again perfect. I'm gonna post two excellent Frank Blacks bootlegs soon, so keep you eyes open.

  5. Now folks remember, like that cover as I do, I'm a Winnipegger and by law we can't accept any Neil Young cover as being better than our 'local boy's' (hey those were important years, even Bob Dylan can tell you that) original.

    Black's cover of "Hang On To Your Ego" does stake its own territory, even though it's a track from one of the greatest albums of all time.

    Fuck "Head On" is good (just re-listening to it now) Maybe I have to buy Trompe Le Monde. (I'm a only a mid-size JMC fan but you can sure hear why even the band would have to admit they'd been cut.)

    Thanks for the words, Gary and Longy.

  6. Awww, Jeffen...

    Don't Cry No Tears

    The Wedding Present

    Matthew Sweet

    Teenage Fanclub

    Nils Lofgren

    All superior to the original NY&CH in my opinion...

    Which JAMC stuff are you a fan of?

  7. Bio
    I feel my rock cred ebbing away, since I can't recall even one of those covers. It's a good list of bands doing a deep album track though, so I believe any one of them could be better than the original but I'm bound by regional custom and law to deny it.


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