Pixies – Complete B Sides

Complete B Sides

I dreamt this record, years back, long before the idea of a Pixies B-sides compilation was ever conceived. I have numerous dreams about browsing through dozens of CDs that exist only in dreams in make-believe record stores. I really could not say if it is normal or even healthy to be having such dreams. This dreaming may even border on pathetic. I don’t know. When I awake from these dreams in a fit of excitement, I check my record collection to find that the record excursion was but a figment of my imagination, become disappointed, and try to return to a slumber, with the intention of continuing the same dream. I tend to fail.

But now I am happy. One of my dreams has become a reality. And surprisingly enough, I am not disappointed with what my dream became: 19 B-sides from the six original Pixies UK singles and a USA single, plus two enhanced videos of “Here Comes Your Man” and “Allison.” Of the 19 songs, I previously owned seven from the “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Here Comes Your Man,” and “Alec Eiffel” singles. Pixies B-sides are on par with the songs found on their LPs, which is unusual for many bands. There is not a bad seed on this entire album; it contains no bursts-of-random-noise throwaways. And while I could analyze every song on the album, I opt to provide a track listing and address the songs that bring me close to tears like My Girl did.

“Manta Ray” epitomizes the Pixies’ sound, as it is energetic and swift. I have named it my favorite Pixies song before, and I shall do it again. “Manta Ray” is my favorite Pixies song. I cannot understand how Frank Black himself dismisses the song in the liner notes as a “not-so-classic quickie.” Sure, one could argue that the brain behind the song has a more important opinion than I do. But it is a classic. “Weird at My School” follows in the same vein, with the addition of spookiness and a decrease in tempo. “Into the White” is my preferred “Kim on vocals” song. It exposes booming drums, memorable bass lines, and crashing guitars, with the ghostly voice of Kim Deal garnishing the muddle. Drummer David Lovering sings on “Make Believe,” a song that sounds extremely 80s. Eighties drumming, 80s guitar, 80s vocals. “Winterlong” is more delicate and structured than a typical Pixies song. It is a cover of Neil Young, and Black temporarily abandons his normal, edgy singing voice in favor of a more Young-esque whine. The highlight of all highlights on the record is “Santo,” a song from the “Dig for Fire” single, that until now has been completely foreign to me. Angular guitars come from Joey, and short bursts of lyrics, both English and Spanish, are spurted from Black’s mouth.

The idea of covering an 80s video game is mind-numbingly brilliant. I am unfamiliar (quite surprisingly) with the video game Narc. But the “Trompe le Monde”-sounding “Theme from Narc” rocks my socks off more than the theme to Kid Icarus ever did. In fact, it is almost as catchy as the Goonies II theme song, Nintendo’s rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s marvelous “Good Enough”. Almost. Okay, I overplayed the importance of that song, “Theme from Narc.” Comparing it to a Cyndi Lauper song was in poor taste. I apologize, Cyndi.

Of the two videos on the (drumroll) digitally enhanced CD, “Here Comes Your Man” takes the cake over the brief “Allison.” The video satirizes music videos, as the band members are grossly exaggerating their lip-syncing in a flowery environment. And David Lovering stares at the camera with his dreamy eyes as he beats at his drums. The video is a joke, and a good one. “Allison” is not much of a video. The band is simply in an empty football stadium, where the camera does a close-up on each of the band members. It falls short of making the lasting impact that “Here Comes Your Man” does.

The Pixies have been dead for 10 years. Their music has the rare quality that makes it sound as fresh as it did a decade ago. This band will never grow stale. And I cannot imagine Complete B Sides ever overstaying its welcome, not in my wildest dreams.