One very early morning seven or eight years ago, while desperately searching for something, anything to watch on TV on a particularly sleepless night, I stumbled across a movie on The Documentary Channel called loud QUIET loud: A Film About the Pixies. The Pixies? Who the f**k are the Pixies? Can’t be that much special about them, me being a music fanatic to the nth degree and all… a music snob as I have been called by my nearest and dearest friend… one that prides himself on his knowledge of rock history and I’d never heard of them. Well, I was about to receive an education in how much I didn’t know, and although I was embarrassed by the fact that I had no idea about this band and had never heard them before, I knew after hearing the first 12 bars from the opening song in the movie that I was forever hooked….. head over heels crazy about a band that survived in relative obscurity for a half a dozen years.
Loud QUIET loud weaves the tale of a newly reunited alt rock band that tours the world after a very acrimonious split over a decade earlier. The unlikely surge in their popularity happened after Kurt Cobain, who along with his band Nirvana were at the peak of their game, was quoted in a Rolling Stone interview that when writing his mega hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it, when I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band — or at least in a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.” That was all it took. Pixies saw a resurgence in record sales immediately and band front man, Charles Thompson IV (aka Black Francis, Frank Black) summoned his former band mates about the possibility of reuniting for a tour. Plans exploded and in February 2004 the locations and dates of the upcoming tour were released to the public. What followed was a sell out of tickets at most locations within minutes. The band’s four-night run at London’s Brixton Academy was the fastest selling show in the venue’s 20 year history… no mean feat, considering previous acts included the likes of Eric Clapton, The Clash, Iron Maiden, Madonna, Dire Straits, The Police… and on, and on it goes.
Immediately, and I do mean immediately, after watching the documentary I hopped on Amazon and ordered “Doolittle” and “Surfer Rosa” and then paced for the four days it took for them to arrive in the mail. When they did find their way into my sweaty little hands and I got to listen to them from star to finish, I realized that I had stumbled upon, what was perhaps, the happiest accident in all of my years of rock and roll fascination. I had found a band that not only was fine, but bordering on Utopian. I was blissfully gobsmacked by what I had just heard… I played them both again back to back…and once more. Surely, this could not be. It is virtually impossible to find an album without a single bad-to-mediocre track on it — I had just listened to two flawless recordings — never seen (heard) anything like it before or since. And it doesn’t stop there; every song from “Caribou,” the opening song off of the band’s first demo release, “Come on Pilgrim.” to “Havalina,” the last cut on their final album Trompe le Monde, there isn’t a single bad song…. not one that you feel inclined to hit the skip button on. Quite staggering when you look at it from that angle.
In Boston, back in 1986, Charles sought out and got one of the best back up trios in the history of American rock. Joey Santiago playing a guitar like it was a frail woman on one song and a chain saw the next. The ever-present and fast-forward drumming of Dave Lovering never hiccups once — never. And certainly not least, the beguiling Kim Deal (who along with her twin sister Kelley formed the modestly successful band The Breeders) on bass guitar and backing vocals providing a beyond adequate backbeat and the voice of an angel sent to us straight from heaven. But, alas, as it happens more often than not, the band was not meant to last. Five years and four studio albums later the acrimony was too much to bear and the four went their separate ways. They were not revered in North America but found a modicum of popularity in the UK with their albums cracking the top 10 while never seeing one break 70 here. A shame, really, that such talent, and a wonderfully unique band, never got their commercial dues. So, I’m afraid it must be enough to reflect on a band whose music shall remain, as all classic rock is, timeless.
The recent revival of the band with a tour and an album (Indie Cindy) released in April of this year, is not the salad days for the band by any means and the absence of Kim Deal only provides solid proof that, indeed, you can’t go back. But, given that, I can only hope that because of this new album and tour, a whole new generation of listeners will be turned on to a band whose music will forever remain timeless and as fresh when you spin it tomorrow as it was all of those 25 years ago when they quietly appeared on the rock scene.
Thanks for allowing me to wax nostalgic on one of my favorite American bands. The Pixies have given me so much enjoyment over these past years that I felt a certain need to pen a little something about them. As I take my leave, I am heading to the stereo to indulge in some of their music now, but where to start? I think I will begin at the beginning and see where it takes me.

Keith Lennox presides over www.All-len-All.com. If you enjoy edgy and quirky, this is a good spot.

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