The Late Movies: The Pixies' "Doolittle" Turns 23 Today

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Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the release of Doolittle, a landmark album by the Pixies that influenced boatloads of musicians in the ensuing years (though most musicians I know pretend they liked Surfer Rosa better).

Last year, in a roundup of Pixies covers, I wrote: "The Pixies have had a special place in my heart since I discovered Doolittle in 1996 — three years after the band had broken up and seven years after the album was released. I used to listen to that tape on repeat as I walked to class, from class, even sometimes in class." I still listen to the album all the time -- albeit no longer on tape -- and seeing them live in recent years (the band formed again in 2004) was wonderful and unexpected -- quite honestly, it was my version of seeing The Beatles suddenly rise up, join, and start touring again.

So now that I've baited you into leaving Beatles-vs.-Pixies comments, I present Doolittle in its entirety, in various live recordings spanning the decades. Enjoy. If you've never heard of this band before, I suggest you skip down to "Here Comes Your Man" and listen to that first.

"Debaser"

The best song about surrealism and eyeballs yet. From the reunion tour. I still love Kim's intentionally out-of-time echo vocals.

"Tame"

From Brixton Academy, 1991. "Taaaaaaaame!" Note the concordance between this loud-quiet-loud dynamic and bands like Nirvana. Also be aware that the first ten times I heard this song, I hated it...then I loved it. I recall telling my roommate, "But it's just yelling," and he said, "No it's not. Just keep listening."

"Wave of Mutilation"

The less-often-heard original "fast" version from the album (a slower "UK Surf" version is considerably more popular but less hardcore). From 2005.

"I Bleed"

From Glastonbury, 1989. Complete with slight mistakes in Joey's intro guitar line.

"Here Comes Your Man"

The famously awkward music video, in which the band, incapable of lip-syncing, simply held their mouths open during the parts where singing occurs. I remember seeing this on 120 Minutes and having my mind blown.

"Dead"

Live in Utrecht, 1990.

"Monkey Gone to Heaven"

Live on Letterman. "There was a guy. An underwater guy, who controlled the sea...."

"Mr. Grieves"

Some audio/video sync issues, but still quite nice.

"Crackity Jones"

Live in Utrecht, 1990. Just one and a half minutes long.

"La La Love You"

David Lovering finally gets a shot at a lead vocal, and Frank is "all crackers." Also: "Hi, Mom!" and "Boston!" I remember this song really, really confusing me when I first heard the album. The false start here makes this more fun, in my opinion.

"No. 13 Baby"

From Austin City Limits. At around the 2:05 mark in this recording starts the part of the album where the listener's existential dread is greatest. Melodic noodling and chugging rhythm section equals "I think I'll just skip class and rethink my priorities."

"There Goes My Gun"

"This is the difficult section, the challenging section of the album." -Kim Deal

"Hey"

I used to play this on the jukebox at Club Downunder in Tallahassee, Florida, over and over. See also: a live-in-studio version from 1988.

"Silver"

Creepy much?

"Gouge Away"

Hey look, another album about eyeball trauma. A twofer!

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April 18, 2012 - 6:00pm
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