Release Date: Dec 2, 2014
Record label: 4AD
Pixies' Doolittle has officially reached the quarter-century mark, meaning the record is old enough to rent a car, get wasted on its own post-punk nihilism, and drive that car into a ditch to the sound of Black Francis' shiver-inducing scream (not that we'd ever endorse that kind of behavior)..
This three-disc 25th-anniversary package gives the Pixies' surreal 1989 breakthrough the monument it deserves. Along with the original LP, B sides and Peel Session performances illuminate the frenetic process leading up to classics like "Debaser" and "Gouge Away." Best of all are the unreleased 1988 demos: Recorded in a basement under a hair salon near Boston, they're a charmingly slapdash alternate view of the album that launched a thousand indie bands. .
As is so often the case, the 25 years that have elapsed since the first release of the second Pixies album, Doolittle, simultaneously feel like nanoseconds and epochs. An encouraging number of fans who weren’t even born 25 years ago can now be found going all shades of batshit at gigs by (most of) the reunited Pixies. Whether they can fully appreciate how crisp and thrilling Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering sounded first time round, or how adored they were for personifying a vital, inevitable antidote to dreary chart homogeny, is rather beside the point as long as the music continues to hold up this robustly.
The Pixies proved so influential that it’s now almost impossible to imagine how bizarre they seemed on arrival in the late 80s. Their second full-length album, Doolittle, was released in April 1989, towards the end of a startling 18-month period for experimental US guitar rock. It had seen the release not just of Doolittle’s predecessor, Surfer Rosa, but Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff, You’re Living All Over Me and Bug by Dinosaur Jr, Bongwater’s Double Bummer, the Butthole Surfers’ Hairway to Steven, debut albums by Royal Trux and Fugazi, Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK and Galaxie 500’s Today; a few weeks after Doolittle came out, it was followed by Nirvana’s Bleach.
The Velvet Underground and Nico. Never Mind the Bollocks. Doolittle. What do these albums have in common? They are all rock albums that were originally embraced by enthusiastic cult audiences while, at best, looked at askance by everybody else. Particularly in America, for a long time even knowing ….
The spring of 1989 saw the release of two landmark albums in the space of a month. Whilst they had little in common stylistically, each were crucial in refining and redefining the sound of guitar music to this day. These fraternal twins were The Stone Roses eponymously titled LP and Pixies second album Doolittle. Despite the fact their creators would go on to be usurped in commercial stakes by Oasis and Nirvana, both records were their creative peaks and still sound as timeless a quarter of a century later.