Pixies at the BBC (1998) Best of, Live
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Pixies at the BBC (1998) - Originally released in 1998, this collection documents the Pixies at their most surreal, scary, dissonant and powerful. Recorded live-on-the-air between 1988 and 1991, this disc is a wonderful complement to any of the Pixies catalogue albums.
Released shortly after the Pixies' legacy had been reappraised with the Death To The Pixies boxset, Pixies At The BBC offers a number of alternative takes and a few rarities culled from radio sessions between 1988 and 1991. Most interesting are the rarities: a potent cover version of The Beatles' "Wild Honey Pie" is brief, but bruising, and a take on "In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)" drawn from the score to David Lynch's horrific dystopia Eraserhead gives Black Francis a chance to howl like seldom before. Other than these, there's few superior takes of songs, but there's a lovely acoustic reading of "Wave Of Mutilation", and the obligatory Great Lost B-side in "Manta Ray". Get the albums first, though. --Louis Pattison
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While some Pixies fans balk at this album, I actually find it to be pretty essential-easily up there with their collection of B-Sides, and in my opinion, up there with Bossanova (their weakest album). Pixies at the BBC offers a view of the band that cuts to the bone: no studio gimmicks, up front vocals, solid mixing of the rhythm section, and an incredible spread of songs from every album (minus Surfer Rosa), plus 2 outstanding covers (of The Beatles and David Lynch, no less-Pixies were the masters at choosing the best cover material ever).
Many songs here are somewhat stripped down (possibly causing much of the fuss with hardcore Pixies fans) here. 'Is She Weird' for example dispenses with any lead guitar, providing the song with even more immediacy. 'Monkey Gone to Heaven' seems more primal performed without the string section. 'Manta Ray', always a personal favorite of mine (an outtake from Doolittle), shines so pristine here, it's too bad they didn't squeeze it onto Doolittle. And 'There Goes My Gun' tears out of the speakers like a rocket-seeming more like a companion song to 'River Euphrates' and 'Something Against You' from Surfer Rosa than anything off Doolittle. It's actually quite interesting to see how the band's sound was shaped in the studio to a large degree.
My favorite song here, though, has to be '(In Heaven)'. A fan of surreal cinema (also check the lyrics to Debaser), Frank/Black/Francis loved Eraserhead, and so, the Pixies covered this song penned by David Lynch. It's so utterly raw, terrifying, and simple, that for me, it's one of the band's defining moments. And the shock of feedback/guitar hitting the floor at the end perfectly finishes it all off.
Certainly this is not a typical Pixies 'album', and it is far from perfect (no Surfer Rosa tracks-come on!!!), yet somehow, as much as any other Pixies release (with the exception of the truly live 2nd disc from the Death to the Pixies compilation-an absolutely stunning testament to the greatness of this band), Pixies at the BBC captures their essence: exciting, raw, odd, adventurous, funny, and, yes, cool.
While it's no Surfer Rosa or Doolittle (I mean, come on, what is?!)-this is as good of a place as any to discover the most exciting and creative rock band to emerge since the 1960's.