Classic Albums #1: Pixies – Doolittle (4AD -1989)

The original title for the album was "Whore" however the band eventually opted for the more commercially viable "Doolittle" derived from a lyric in "Mr Grieves"

The second album by Pixies but the first one I listened to. It had stand-out hits that I’d come across elsewhere, such as “Monkey Gone to Heaven”, “Debaser”, “Here Comes Your Man” and even “Hey” which was used to particularly impressive effect in the otherwise forgettable “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.”

During my teenage years I was acutely aware of the albums persistent yet never ubiquitous presence as it was often cited as being an influence on many of the artists I listened to as a teen. Having been released in 1989 it had passed me by. A poll in the NME had ranked it as the second-greatest album of all time but I didn’t let that put me off & took time out my busy 16 year old’s schedule of not revising to give the album a listen.

I can’t remember my immediate thoughts on the album but I do know that it is one that I have constantly revisited since 2006. The album had a relatable quality though given that the themes of the album include: Surrealism, Biblical Violence, Torture and Death  that would paint a picture of me that is not entirely flattering or indeed accurate. Well perhaps except for the Surrealism which I am partial to.

Which segways seamlessly into the first track on the album ‘Debaser’: A crunching guitar driven opener to the album, the lyrics mystified me for years before I bothered to check them out. They’re actually referring to Luis Buñue and Salavador Dali’s surrealist short film Un chien andalou. Which due to the long-lasting appeal of the album I decided to check out. It’s a challenging piece with  a very famous scene of an eye being cut by a razor blade which is referenced  in the song ( “slicing up eyeballs” ). I have to say of the two I prefer the song tribute to the source material.

The album contains a strong underwater theme and it appears the band may have been influenced by surf rockers and contemporaries The Mermen particularly in the underwater reverb meet Hendrix sound of the guitars. Which is particularly apparent on “I Bleed” and more so on the Hawaiian sounding “Here comes your man”.

In researching this article I stumbled upon some information that the producer is from Liverpool. Gil Norton could be said to be somewhat responsible for the more commercial aspect of the album. Gil Norton has produced albums for Echo and the Bunnymen amongst others, which subconsciously must have penetrated my thoughts in my reverence for this album. The album possesses an insane manic energy and an uncontainable attitude that makes it justifiably a classic 22 years on.

Best tracks: All of them. In order.

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