Friday, February 26, 2016
Frank Black Friday: 'And then it goes wrooo-oo-oo-ong!"
'And I'm sorry about the Visigoths...'
Yes it is Frank Black Friday, my FIFTH straight day of alliteratively derived musically themed blog posts, and I am as surprised as anyone I've managed to keep it up this long — probably MORE surprised than anyone as I am pretty clearly the only person who pays any attention to what I post.
Frank Black is a man who was born Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV and took the stage name of Black Francis when fronting groundbreaking indie rockers The Pixies.
Then Thompson/Francis launched a solo career in the '90s and called himself Frank Black and then, still in the midst of his solo career, The Pixies reformed to tour and he CHANGED HIS NAME BACK TO BLACK FRANCIS just to really fuck things up for the poor suckers like me who try to WRITE about the bastard's career.
Anyway, I've gone for songs from the 1998 self-titled Frank Black and the Catholics album because... well it genuinely fucking rocks.
The fascinating thing is it rocks in a very different way from most of the rest of Thompson/Francis/Black's career -- it rocks in a very raw but very straightforward way. This is straight out "Stones on steroids" rock that, musically and lyrically has almost none of the off kilter, quirky nature that made the Pixies or much of the rest of Frank Black's solo output so original ("Back To Rome"'s much overdue apology for the Visigoths notwithstanding).
It is also pretty glorious, driven by roaring guitars with almost no production — noisy garage punk with Frank Black screaming his heart out about how much getting dumped really fucking hurts.
The album is seriously raw. recorded live to two track tape over just two days. This led to a stand off when Black's record label, which complained about how under-produced it was and delayed its release for 18 months. It was eventually released online in MP3 format, making it the first album to be made commercially available for download on the Internet.
The rawness makes the album — not just the production, but Black's wrenching vocals. The guitar playing, with Lyle Workman on lead, is out of this world.
But I am biased. When the album came out, I had just discovered The Pixies and, loving what I heard, encouraged some family member or other to buy me Frank Black's new album for my birthday. When I heard it, I was confused. It was great... but utterly unlike The Pixies.
For a while I was convinced it was a different Frank Black... but, regardless of who I was hearing, I loved what I was hearing.
Looking back, I'd say the next album released by Frank Black and the Catholics, 1999's Pisterelo, is a better album. It combines the raw-as-fuck garage guitar punk of its predecessor with more of the off-kilter, quirky take on music and lyrics that make Thompson/Francis/Black such a revered artist. But I've still chosen all three tracks from Frank Black and the Catholics for nostalgia's sake, coz it is, after all, MY FUCKING BLOG. Plus I love a bit of heartbroken angst...
I don't want to talk about it, I want to scream and shout about it...
I got peace... turned up SO LOUD!