The One Word Countdown – #6

Slicing up eyeballs….

Debaser – Pixies (1989, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Doolittle’)

Points 234

There is apparently a little known film from the late 1920s called ‘Un Chien Anadalou’.  This film is a little bit unique in that there is no real plot and no one in the films speaks a single word.  In it (and I’ve not seen it so you will have to assume that the Internet is correct) a woman prods at a severed hand, whilst it cuts every now and again to a man who appears to be stuffing rotting meat into not one but two grand pianos, which he then drags down a street.  As the piano reach a street corner, a nun cycles past – although the nun is a man.  Shortly after a man (played by Bunuel) slices up the eyeball of his wife who sits undisturbed by this on a small chair.

In the mid 80s a young chap from Massachusetts called Charles Thompson saw this film and it blew him away.  A few years later, Charles Thompson was more famously known as Black Francis and his surf punk band Pixies had written a song inspired by the avant garde surrealist shenanigans of Dali and Bunuel.  That song was ‘Debaser’ and it changed rock music for good.

It opens with Kim Deal’s throbbing bassline, which even now 35 years later, is still one of the most spine tinglingly brilliant moments in music.  That bassline is joined shortly by another spine tinglingly brilliant moment, the incredible riff which comes courtesy of Joey Santiago and then that is joined by the raspy yelp of Black Francis who hollers:-

Got Me a Movie…”

It is amazing, incredible, and according to Black Francis, it took ten minutes to write.  Ten minutes.  This morning it took me eight minutes to make a cup of tea and then a further five minutes to find my keys and another four to remember where I’ve left my jacket.  In that time, Black Francis has probably written half an album.

Putting aside the riff, the bassline and the raspy yelp, the next most glorious thing about ‘Debaser’ is the chorus, so simple, yet it is probably the most recognisable and accessible of all of the Pixies songs.  Again, it’s Kim Deal though who is the real star as her echo-y backing vocals give the chorus a real sense of magic.

There are of course bundles of other Pixies songs that have one word titles.  There are more than enough to make a decent compilation album.  Most of their best tracks could be included.  Here are just three, the first one was under serious consideration, it would have done very well of course, but as great as it is, its no ‘Debaser’. 

Gigantic – Pixies (1988, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Surfer Rosa’)

Caribou – Pixies (1987, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Come on Pilgrim’)

Subbacultcha – Pixies (1987, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Pixies at the BBC’)

Just for those who need to know these things, ‘Debaser’ spent the whole of the vote counting process in the Top Ten, it never dropped below eighth place and had the last two sets of votes gone their way, they would have won the whole thing.  

Major League Music – #21 Boston Red Sox

Twilight in Boston – Jonathan Richman (1992, Rounder Records)

The story of the Red Sox is very similar to that of last weeks offering from the Cubs.  A famous old team, steeped in early success, who were, like the Cubs, in the early part of the 20th Century, very hard to beat.  Until they stopped winning that was, and like the Cubs became a team who were apparently cursed.

Between 1903 and 1918 the Red Sox won five World Series, easily making them the most successful team of the age, they were fired on by one of the most famous names to have ever been linked to baseball, Babe Ruth.  Ruth is considered by those who consider these types of things to be the greatest baseball player of all time.  With Ruth, who at the time was a mean left handed pitcher, inspiring the Red Sox all over the park, they seem unstoppable.  Until in 1918, the Red Sox sold Ruth to the New York Yankees, where Ruth transformed into a Home Run Hitting Sensation (he hit 60 in a single season once).  Incidentally, the owners of the Red Sox at the time, apparently sold Babe Ruth so that they could fund a Broadway Musical.

The success of the Red Sox soon dried up and the Yankees became the most successful team in baseball.  If you want a lazy football comparison, the globally controversial transfer of moustachioed striker Peter Heritage from Maidstone (easily the team’s best player) to his Kent rivals Gillingham is the best I can do.   The day before Maidstone’s inaugural season in the League Two, Heritage left for the superior Gillingham team and Maidstone subsequently had a very poor season, finishing 11th whilst Gillingham finished ninth and Heritage scored seven goals including the winner in the first ever Kent Derby.  The Maidstone owners later admitted that they sold Heritage because they needed some new teabags for the cafeteria.

The sudden downturn in form for the Red Sox became known as the ‘Curse of Bambino’ and it was 86 years before the Red Sox won the World Series again (in 2004, and in the play off final the Red Sox overturned a 3 – 0 deficit against the Yankees, at which point the curse was considered to have been lifted).

Boston has given the world several really awful soft rock bands.  Including, Boston, a band who are as imaginative as their name suggests – see also Chicago and up and coming English soft rock heroes Stevenage – Aerosmith, and possibly the worst band to have ever stepped inside a studio, Extreme.  Bands who cater solely for people who think double denim is still ‘in’.

But its not all band, because for every Boston there is a Pixies, for every Aerosmith there is a Lemonheads and for every Extreme there is a Buffalo Tom or a Magnetic Fields or a Galaxie 500.  The list of brilliant bands from Boston far outweighs the bad ones.

Planet of Sound – Pixies (1991, 4AD Records)

I’m Allowed – Buffalo Tom (1993, Beggars Banquet Records)

Tugboat – Galaxie 500 (1988, Aurora Records)

Which brings up to this weeks previously unheard of band.  A band that have been rescued from the broken dishwasher of obscurity and lovingly scrubbed clean and placed to dry on the side so that someone might use them.  Welcome folks to The Chelsea Curve, a band who somehow have managed to make a record that sounds like Sleeper’s second album.   Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Girl Cavedog – The Chelsea Curve (2022, Red on Red Records)

The One Word Countdown – #38

Swinging from the chandeliers…..

Silver – Echo and the Bunnymen (1984, Korova Records, Taken from ‘Ocean Rain’)

Points 105

‘Ocean Rain’ is another record that I have sort of rediscovered whilst compiling this rundown.  An album I found in a second hand shop in Torquay about six years ago and one that has been in the car glove box for the last year or so stacked underneath a slightly battered copy of ‘Fashion Crisis Hits New York’ by the Frank and the Walters which I may have accidentally trodden on the other day.

Of course when it was released back in 1984, Bunnymen lead singer, the shrinking violet that is Ian McCulloch proclaimed that “It was the greatest album ever made”.  Which of course it isn’t (face facts Ian, it’s not even as good as ‘Crocodiles’).  However, it is very good indeed and the opening strum and sweeping strings of ‘Silver’ are effortlessly brilliant and pretty much everything that follows them works wonderfully well.  Even the faintly ridiculous “T-t-t-ears” and the “La, la, la” bits with which ‘Silver’ conclude, which I have to admit I’ve always hated for a reason that I am not even sure of, because they are seriously catchy.  Putting that aside – what really sets ‘Silver’ apart though is the music, Will Sergeant’s guitar is incredible and Pete De Freitas’ drumming is exquisite.  Its bloody marvellous.

There were actually quite a few tracks called ‘Silver’ in the library.  The first of them very nearly made the final list before being ceremonially dumped for the track that wheezed its way to Number 54.  Would this have done any better….?

Silver – Caribou (2014, City Slang Records, Taken from ‘Our Love’)

The second one I totally forgot about, which is a shame because it’s a tremendous slice of jazzy big beat. 

Silver – Bonobo (2000, Ninja Tune Records, Taken from ‘Animal Magic’)

And the best of the bunch was this

Silver – Pixies (1989, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Doolittle’) – which (and I’ve just checked) is only the fifth best One Word Title track that Pixies released.  More from them later in the series (probably).

The Sunday Shuffle – #13

Break My Body – Pixies (1987, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Surfer Rosa’)

Last Sunday I went for my weekly run.   Every week at the end of the run, my watch downloads a load of stats and stuff into an app that I use to monitor performance, times, distance, and all that.  It also tells me that I should change my running shoes every 400 miles.  Last Sunday’s run clocked up the 395th mile completed in my current trainers.

So for this weeks randomly shuffled song I decide to post the song that was playing on my iPod Nano at the very moment that my watch tells me that I had reached 400 miles in these trainers.  

My main running route can best be described as undulating, I live in Devon and its hilly but over time I have crafted a circular 10km course from my doorstep and on this day I decide to do that run.  The five mile point is roughly the point where I run past my daughters school in the middle of the village that I live in. 

And….it would appear that my iPod has developed a sense of humour, because at the precise point when the trainers had run 400 miles , ‘Break My Body’ by Pixies was playing and at that point I would have looked a lot like a beetroot that had grown legs and run 5 bloody miles.

I plod on regardless, determined to make it to 401 miles in these shoes, sadly it’s uphill most of the way back from middle of the village but slowly I make it, two songs help me on my way the first is almost in complete contrast to ‘Break My Body’ because its by Four Tet and the calm brilliance of Four Tet gives me the energy to trot up the final hill.

128 Harps – Four Tet (2012, Domino Records)

Four Tet are replaced about 500 metres from home by

October Swimmer – JJ72 (2000, Columbia Records, Taken from ‘JJ72’)

The Never Ending Playlist – Week #5

23. Caribou – Pixies (1987, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Come on Pilgrim’)

Has anyone heard the rumour about how Black Francis recruited a bass player for his band Pixies?  No – well pull up a chair.  The rumour goes that Black Francis had dropped out of college and was determined to make a living in music.  He stuck a rather niche advert up in a guitar shop that stated

Female bass player wanted.  Must love Husker Du and Peter Paul and Mary”.

The only person who answered that advert was Kim Deal, and back then, she couldn’t even play the bass guitar, the rest as they say is history.

A few months later, that band with Kim recruited walked into a studio and recorded eighteen songs another rumour claims that during that recording phase the beer spent more on beer than they did on things like studios, printing costs and producers.   Those eighteen songs got them signed to 4AD in the UK.

The bands first release for the label was an 8 song, 20 minute album called ‘Come On Pilgrim’.  It featured largely re-recorded versions of songs that had emerged on that original session.  The opening track on that album is ‘Caribou’.

‘Caribou’ is excellent and despite sounding a little aged now (but that might just be my recording  of it) it remains one of the classic Pixies songs, a wonderful bled of bizarre lyrics, vocals which almost scream as they reach the chorus and guitars that thrash away like they are being attacked by a shark.

Here are a couple more tracks from ‘Come on Pilgrim’ which are again excellent – the first one ‘Levitate Me’ is a sort of tribute to the Christian rock singer Larry Norman (whose the album is named after) – the second one ‘Ed is Dead’ is about a brain damaged girl that Black Francis knew that cycled around his town with a transistor radio strapped to her bike so that she could listen to music. 

Levitate Me – Pixies (1987, 4AD Records)

Ed is Dead – Pixies (1987, 4AD Records)