Release Date: May 13, 2013
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Alternative Pop/Rock
On 1993's Last Splash, former Pixies bassist Kim Deal pulled off a shocker: a record as good as anything by her old band that was also a pop success. With sister Kelley on guitar, Deal churned out sweet, slothy ballads, put a feminist spin on blues cliché and even had a Top 40 hit with the looped-out surf-rocker "Cannonball." This three-disc reissue adds a raft of cool demos, a 1994 concert and four EPs, including two doozies, 1994's Head to Toe and 1992's Safari, where they cover Sebadoh and the Who with an equally sly affection. .
Before they could legally drink, the Deal twins, armed with one guitar and two mics, were fixtures in the scuzziest bars of Dayton, Ohio, where legend has it their salty-sweet harmonies could make even the motorcycle dudes cry. The year was 1978, maybe 79. Like the bikers, Kim and Kelley listened to Hank Williams and the Everly Brothers; when Kelley was 16 she watched The Song Remains the Same on acid and the souvenir she kept from her trip was this dead-serious conviction that she wanted to be Jimmy Page.
Big Deal: The Breeders’ best LP reissued as a seven-disc vinyl/3CD boxset on its 20th anniversary…In the red corner: the heavyweight, Charles MK Thompson IV, known to the world as Black Francis. In the blue corner: the maverick, the former “Mrs John Murphy”, Kim Deal. Who was your money on? The guy who wrote 95% of the songs, or the gal who kicked 95% of the ass?In the battle of the post-Pixies projects, Charles was the overwhelming favourite.
CONSUMER ALERT: This vastly expanded, packed-to-the-gills 20th anniversary reissue of The Breeders’ Last Splash album contains exactly the same version of Last Splash that can currently be found crowding 99-cent CD bins all over the world. No remix. No remaster. No “this is what it was supposed to sound like the first time around” folderol.
Anniversary packages for beloved records have always been popular with both marketers and bands, and they’ve taken on a special function in the digital age: namely, serving as an excuse to make buying physical albums sexy and fun again. Sometimes it works; sometimes it’s much ado about two new songs and a set of “lost” ones that would’ve been much better off staying hidden. For the 20th birthday of legendary grunge girl-group the Breeders’ seminal album, Last Splash, Kim Deal and company decided to celebrate with a comprehensive set, LSXX, that includes plenty of bang for the buck: Last Splash of course, along with a collection of EPs, rarities, demos and a live recording, Stockholm Syndrome, that works to give the album a perfect context.
The fetishising of albums celebrating their 20-plus year anniversaries is well underway, as any RC reader will be aware. The desire to make things larger, with more sumptuous looks and exhaustive tracklists keeps stepping up a gear. That said, 4AD’s records were already housed in tactile, colour-treated shifting fields of art, from the mind of the label’s regular designer Vaughan Oliver, so anything as luxurious as a 4AD deluxe edition is bound to be special.
Darn, I feel old. You’d think I might have felt this way a couple of years ago when Nirvana’s Nevermind turned 20, but it barely registered a blip with me. The Breeders’ Last Splash, on the other hand, turns 20, as it does this year, and I feel like I have to break out the cane and book myself into the retirement home. I’m hard pressed to explain why I feel like I do, because, certainly, Nevermind is much more of a cultural touchstone than Last Splash is, or will ever be, but I think the reason is that some of my high school memories are more wrapped up in Last Splash for one particular reason: I heard it more often in my youthful adventures drivin’ (on 9) somewhere.