“There was a guy. An underwater guy…” The Pixies are currently going through a bit of a renaissance in our house just now. I was getting fed up with all the feyness of the Fleet Foxes and their ilk (as much as I still like them) and was looking for something to blow the cobwebs away. Something loud. Actually, something quiet then LOUD. Then quiet again. Then 10 times LOUDER. You know what I mean. So I played ‘Surfer Rosa’ and everything was alright again. Then by coincidence, about an hour later I found the demos to ‘Doolittle‘ on Dimeadozen! A sign? I thought so. So I downloaded them, went back to my other Pixies albums and bootlegs and have been going Black Francis crazy ever since. In the car, on the iPod, on the good old fashioned stereo in the living room, the Pixies are everywhere. Everywhere. And they sound grrrrrrrrrreeeeeaaaaatttt!!!
Who’d have thought anyone responding to an advert seeking musicians “into Peter, Paul & Mary and The Beatles‘ could join forces and create such an unholy tuneful racket? I have been playing a bootleg called ‘Rough Diamonds’ an awful lot. In fact, it just might be the best Pixies non-release there is. It combines all of their BBC sessions at Maida Vale (unlike the incomplete official BBC Sessions CD) with some other studio outtakes from various sources. The sound quality is Grade A excellent. You really should seek it out. While it was never my favourite Pixies track (that would be Number 13 Baby. Or Broken Face. Or Gigantic. Or River Euphrates. Or…), I have been fairly taken by these versions of ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’
First, we have the demo version of the track that would appear on the Doolittle album. Slightly sparse and a wee bit less rocking than the released version, this version sees the band find their feet around the track. Kim Deal’s backing vocals are buried way too deep in the mix and the band sound quite restrained. By the time the band went to Maida Vale Studio 5 on 18th August 1988 (almost 20 years ago! Shite, I’m getting old), the tune had been transformed into something of a behemoth. It sounds like a ton of reverb has been chucked over the whole thing. The bass sounds fantastic and KIm’s breathy schoolgirl vocals are higher up in the mix. There’s even a wee bit of echo during the “If man is 5 then the devil is 6” bit. Frank Black/Black Francis is at his shouty best. This version goes quiet, LOUD, quiet, LOUDER. It’s a winner!
Pixies ’08. Peter, Paul, Mary and Ringo
If this isn’t enough for you, how about this? It’s only the studio master tapes of ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’!!!! 16 tracks of Kim, Black/Frank, David and Joseph Alberto Santiago. One complete ogg vorbis file. Open as usual in Audacity and remix away. More cello? Certainly! Loop the ‘Rock Me Joe’ bit. No bother. More reverb on the snare drum? Certainly sir. Here‘s the double-tracked vocals only version. God, the internet is great, isn’t it?