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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Oct-18 > 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

Issue 45 of Classic Pop magazine is on sale now! In the latest issue our cover stars are Boy George and Culture Club – we grab an in-depth interview with the iconic singer and guitarist Roy Hay as the band return with their first studio album in almost 20 years. We also find out what life was like inside Prince's backing group The Revolution from band member Lisa Coleman and hear from the Purple One's archivist Michael Howe about further unreleased material from the legendary singer. Need a buyer's guide to Pet Shop Boys? We look at the duo's complete career in our Lowdown feature. Former Fairground Attraction frontwoman Eddi Reader tells us all about her new album Cavalier and we also meet Sister Sledge who look back on their disco heyday. New albums from Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Blancmange and Neneh Cherry get the once-over alongside reissues by Yazoo, Pixies, Cocteau Twins, David Sylvian and much more. We also review live shows including Gabrielle, Simple Minds and The Proclaimers. Enjoy the issue!