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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > FREE CLASSIC POP ISSUE > BEST REISSUE

BEST REISSUE

REISSUES

PIXIES

COME ON PILGRIM… IT’S SURFER ROSA

4AD

A DELUXE REISSUE CAPTURES THE BIRTH OF A BAND WHOSE SPLICING OF DARK ROCK WITH POP SENSIBILITIES BECAME HUGELY INFLUENTIAL

The most cited fact about the Pixies is that Kurt Cobain appropriated them as the musical template for Nirvana.

The late frontman freely confessed that Smells Like Teen Spirit, in particular, was a direct steal of their habit of “being soft and quiet and then loud and hard”.

Cobain’s solipsism, angst and nihilism were to take Nirvana off on a different (downward) trajectory entirely.

Yet despite their iconic status, his band were always musically too straight-down-the-line to equal the wit, vivacity and originality of their chief influence, as this magnificent reissue package demonstrates.

From the moment of their formation in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1986, the Pixies were a band who triggered double-takes.

Crucially, they sounded like nobody else: just what was this bizarre, angular bitches’ brew of punk guitar, surf rock, white-noise-laden 60s pop and barked Spanish profanities?

They were still finding their feet in 1987 when they recorded 17 songs in three days in a Boston studio, but the noise they made there was visceral and thrilling enough for 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell to release eight of the tracks as the Come On Pilgrim EP. It was instantly clear that this was art-rock with the emphasis placed firmly on both syllables.

On the opening Caribou, Black Francis – always an inspired unreliable narrator – howled the instruction “Repent!” like a serial killer keen to get his numbers up. Nimrod’s Son leered of incestuous union and being the “son of a motherfucker” over what sounded like Dick Dale playing flamenco. I’ve Been Tired found Francis fearing “losing my penis to a whore with disease”. Huh?

Yet Come On Pilgrim proved to be merely the warm-up for incandescent debut album Surfer Rosa, which was released a scant six months later. Here was alt-rock of barbed, brittle brilliance: from Joey Santiago’s scabrous white-noise riffing on Bone Machine through Kim Deal’s faux-sweet coos on Gigantic to the seismic headfuck of Where Is My Mind?, the Pixies casually bent rock into freakish new shapes: an awestruck David Bowie declared them the “psychotic Beatles”.

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About Classic Pop

Classic Pop magazine is the ultimate celebration of great pop and chart music. Each month we bring you the very best artist interviews and features, music news plus a packed reviews section. From the new wave acts of the late-70s through to the synth-pop, New Romantic, ska, indie and guitar greats of the 80s and chart stars of the 90s, it’s all here. We also bring the story bang up-to-date with new acts that have a retro flavour.