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classic album dissections
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The Pixies Doolittle

This week Jim and Greg conduct one of their patented Classic Album Dissections. They decided to focus on a landmark album in indie rock: Doolittle by The Pixies. As an added bonus, they're joined by one of the creators of Doolittle, Pixies singer and songwriter Charles Thompson aka Black Francis aka Frank Black. Charles and bandmates Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering recently marked the album's 20th anniversary with a tour dedicated to the record. While artists such as Kurt Cobain have cited it as a major influence, Doolittle was a slow burn record. After its 1989 release, it didn't achieve gold status until almost a decade later.

As Charles explains to Jim and Greg, his vocal style and lyrics were an amalgamation of his upbringing and the art and ideas floating around him at that time. It's a unique mix of preaching, surrealism and even sexual frustration. But, the songwriter warns against dissecting the lyrics too closely. He loves words for words' sake.

The lead singer also credits producer Gil Norton for the mix of“raw and fancy”that people associate with The Pixies. He polished up their sound, but knew well enough to leave a little roughness around the edges. Another component of the sweet but scary mix is Joey Santiago's guitar playing. Charles describes it as just like the guitarist's own personality-sweet and gentle like a little kid, but capable of smashing something to bits.

At the end of their discussion Jim and Greg ask Charles/Black/Frank to choose a favorite track from Doolittle. He goes with "Monkey Gone to Heaven," a song that encapsulates all of the album's elements-humor, darkness, violence, love, hope and references to the nautical and the mythological. Finally, Charles sees it as a great example of the yin and yang connection between him and singer Kim Deal.

Go to episode 217