Frank Black

Pixies Dick
*special introductory paragraph!
*Frank Black
*Hang On To Your Ego EP
*Teenager Of The Year
*The Cult Of Ray
*Oddballs
*Frank Black And The Catholics
*Pistolero
*Dog In The Sand
*Black Letter Days
*Devil's Workshop
*Show Me Your Tears
*One More Road For The Hit
*Snake Oil
*Frank Black Francis
*Honeycomb
*Fast Man Raider Man
*Christmass
*Bluefinger
*Svn Fngrs EP
*The Golem
*Nonstoperotik

Black Francis used to be the leader of the Pixies, one of the most celebrated underground bands of all time. When he broke up the band, he switched his fake name around and broke out on his own to create music that sounded like the Pixies, but without the intrigue. A dorkier, chubbier Pixies.


Frank Black - 4AD 1993.
Rating = 8

Fifteen slightly askew rock songs. Some of them in 6/8! All relying heavily on guitars, a few too many built around melodic twists ripped off from the Pixies. As a whole, awfully entertaining though, and filled with clever new chord sequences that even Fred Durst would have to admit that he gives a fuck about, even if Frank Black doesn't give a fuck about him and his generation. Vocals sound like a chubby dork, but a dork that likes beautiful lush guitar pop, heavy distorted rock and quirky Pere Ubu-esque novelty too! Actually I think a guy from Pere Ubu plays on this record, which is probably why I wrote that. Again, without Kim Deal's detached alternative sultriness and Joey Santiago's surf guitar, this really does sound like a goofier, more fun version of the Pixies. Might very well appeal to some Pixies fans (it did to me, but only after several listens), but I can definitely see some people accusing him of going WAY overboard into his persona, drenching the soundstage with oversugary pop goodtime inside jokes with titles like "Fu Manchu" and "Parry The Wind High, Low". But what the heck - at least he didn't keep calling himself The Pixies when he KNEW that he was changing his music a little bit! You want the mystique of prime Pixies, try the first Breeders album. Pod, they call it in rock and roll movies like Gimme Shelter, Helter Skelter and Old Yelter.

Reader Comments

avsouza@webtv.net (tony souza)
I got into Frank Black's music first, then checked out the Pixies (and liked them too). Basically, I don't really care if he sounds like the Pixies or not because this is one great record. Almost all the songs have great hooks, and the chord progressions may be simple, but they're not cliched (sic). It took me a few listens to pick all the little musical subtleties but I've come to expect that from subsequent albums. A lot of songs seem straight-forward at first but after repeated listens the quirky charms of his music come through. "Los Angeles" is one of his best opening songs, "I Heard Ramona Sing" is clever wordplay about his love of the Ramones' music, "Ten-percenter" is a Stooges-like song about how we only use ten percent of our brain, etc. The music on here seemed like a logical step for him from the music the Pixies were doing on Tromp le Monde. This was a great find for me and an easy 9 on the scale.

bobcountry@exitflagger.com
like everyone else on this aging earth, i discovered the love of the pixies before moving on the tolerance of frank black, though with a smaller margin of time inbetween (not quite a year). as it turns out, after wearing out "doolittle" and "trompe" (my faves), what really left an impression on me about that band was the writer and singer, whatever he decides to call himself. charlie's put out six (or eight, depending on the time zone) interesting rock records since '93 and there's something to be said for all of them.

here's what i have to say about this one:

listen to the voice on the opening line of 'los angeles'. calm, serene, confident. whether cooing or caterwauling (rock critic word #1), this album presents a seasoned artist expounding on a steady theme, without having to fight for his niche on every track.

the pixies' delivery is missed at times, and if you ever liked the way kim and frankee dueted on every other song they did, that is a void that will likely never be filled. aside from that, superior musicianship, logical sequences and the best punk rock ever written by a guy who worships donovan and doug sahm far overrides anything lacking in the familiarity department.

'i heard ramona sing', 'ten percenter', 'czar' and 'los angeles' rip. simple as that. a couple of obtuse inside jokes with the musicians turn up on 'los angeles' - the line"....symphony of the fairlight", which refers to the synth orchestra eric feldman washes the whole album with, is followed immediately by some of the finest fairlight playing on a rock record. and the fucked-up guitars on 'ten percenter' ruin my spinal - in a good way.

and if you can't get with the cover of 'hang on to your ego' (obscure beach boys disco?!?), you have NO sense of humour, which despite accusations, frank has plenty of.

the record as a whole.........haven't decided yet.

Sonikmarcus@cs.com
OK first off you obviously were not with it enough to catch on to the Pixies and Frank Black before like 1998!!! You dated yourself by saying "with clever new chord sequences that even Fred Durst would have to admit that he gives a fuck about, even if Frank Black doesn't give a fuck about him and his generation." Do us all a favor and post a photo of yourself since you frame Charles as a "chubby dork" it would be nice to see a picture of your sorry ass. Also include your whack ass poetry that you keep under your mattress right next to your favorite CD a shiny new one called "Prindle-listens to favorite alternative FM rock station! And has delusions of being a Spin reviewer." I mean uh.... I'm sure your mom thinks your great!

Steven.Rosenblatt@rosshardies.com
15 songs. each one great. he is the john lennon of space-age, surf-riffing proto-punk. a genius. i mean that.

dafeldman@vassar.edu
Frank's solo stuff will never be able to match the brilliance of the Pixies...but this is still a good album with some great songwriting. Not only does it include an awesome Beach Boys cover, a Ramones tribute, and a pseudo Iggy tribute, but "Los Angeles" is a fantastic prototype for Radiohead's "Paranoid Android." Isn't it?

Add your thoughts?


Hang On To Your Ego EP - 4AD/Elektra 1993
Rating = 5

Frank wants you to think this is some hot jammin' surf EP, but that's not only wrong -- it's WRING WRONG! Sure, there's a Beach Boys cover, instrumentals called "Ballad Of Johnny Horton" (of "Secret Agent Man" fame) & "Surf Epic," and a back cover computer graphic of a surfing guitar player made from the initials "F" and "B" (for "Fat" and "Big Stupid Asshole"), but the production on these songs is so slick, pussyish and wishy-washy that I'll tell you exactly what it sounds like:

It sounds like a recent Ventures album.

A lot of people don't know or care that the Ventures are still out there rocking and rinkling but they are -- and they're OLD. Along with age has come a non-surfy guitar player named Gerry, bland smoothed-over guitar tones and a more relaxed copacetic mood for the easily-frightened Japanese market. Every single one of these disappointing, flaccid compromises is utilized to a depressing degree on this limp-wristed Frank Francis three-tracker. "Hang On To Your Ego" is a delightful Brian Wilson construction but it's also plenty available on the self-eponymous debut LP by former Pixies frontman The Guy Who Played The Drums In The Pixies (I'm Blanking On His Name, But It Would Have Been Hilarious To Put It Here), which leaves 15 minutes of slicked-over gonorrhea that you'll wanna throw out the window immediate-haste unless you're 75 years old and named "Wing Wong."

And that's why it's WRING WRONG!

Reader Comments

jtassone@hotmail.com
one of the first songs the pixies played together was 'apache' by the ventures... coincidence, i think not.

Add your thoughts?


Teenager Of The Year - 4AD 1994.
Rating = 7

TOO MUCH!!!! I realize that it seems hypocritical to hear me, "Mark Prindle," make that complaint seeing as how my own personal homemade CDRs each have about 82 million 40-second songs on them, but nevernonetheless I have every intention of making said claim about Teenager Of The Year. The first half is excellent. Beautiful guitar tones (especially a few tunes with gorgeous surf-ballad lead guitar lines) combine with slightly more prevalent keys (than on the first album, I mean) to highlight what appears to be an unceasingly on-the-money sense of melodic innovation. You hear tunes like "Headache" and "(I Want To Live On An) Abstract Plain" and think to yourself, "Wow! If Paul McCartney were a bit manlier and liked playing songs in 6/7 time, this is what it would sound like!!" But by track 13 or 14, a numbing reality sets in - Frank isn't by any means perfect. He just enjoys playing chord sequences that he's never heard anybody play before. On the upside, this gives us wonderfully erratic songscapers like the entire Pixies catalog. Down on the upside, this gives us the second half of Peenager Of The Empty Vee Degeneration, which is made up of track after track after track of empty-minded A's to F's to G's to R's to Q's with no real thought put into what makes a song special as opposed to simply forgettable. 22 tracks, over an hour long. A good 66.6666666666666666666666% of it is typically excellent, but the rest is TOO MUCH OF A MEDICOCRE THING!

Speaking of which, it takes 40 dollars to make you swallar - I get paid to do the mediocre thing.

Reader Comments

Itchload@aol.com
Okay, if you want to know something really bizarre, i just went to this site thinking "maybe i'll ask him if i can submit reviews on Frank's solo career" and then I see this..and i visit this site a lot. But anyway, Teenager of the Year is one of the greatest albums of all time. Hands down. And you know what? I was a huge huge huge pixies fan (still am of course) and i bought this and didn't really like it. Then songs like Headache and Two Reelers stood out and i realized Frank still had it. Nevertheless, the album (especially the 2nd half) still sounded boring sometimes. And so it went, until about a year after i owned this album, a year of listening to the first half and then getting kind of bored and not really paying attention, that i realized the 2nd half is just as good as the first half. You see, it's unfair, because this is a brilliant pop album that takes a long long time to absorb. And what's gonna make someone spend 10 hours of their life trying to digest this album when they could be listening to Bossanova or Trompe Le Monde instead. I mean, i made my friend buy it and he hated it for about 2 months, loved the Pixies. I kept making him listen to it. And then...realization popped in, this album is as good as any Pixies' album. This album came out 7 years ago, and I'm seeing it pop up on a lot of best of the 90's lists...although it was recieved with sort of mixed reviews when it came out. In conclusion: Mark, let this sit in your subconcious for awhile, then listen to it again..start at song 11 if you have to..but give those last 11 songs a chance. Then tell me Superabound isn't one of the greatest pop songs ever written..EVER.

soul_crusher77@hotmail.com (Mike K.)
yeah, this one's a bit long, but that's about the only drawback. See, I agree with Itchload here. Next time you listen to the album, just skip the first 12 tracks, and you'll discover something. The second half isn't bad at all, it just feels like it is at first because the whole album is entirely too much Frank Black for one sitting. There isn't really a dip in quality at all! Well, ok, I could never stand "mullholand", but everything else is as good as the stuff on the first half. For example, "Superabound", "White Noise Maker", and "Space Is Gonna Do Me Good" are all really, really good songs that just got buried way in back for some reason.

avsouza@webtv.net (tony souza)
The above response to this review is exactly how I feel about this album. It also took me several listens before I realized it is a masterpiece of pop music. First I liked a quarter of it, then half, and eventually all of it. Every song on here is perfectly made, and the different sound styles keeps things interesting. He is one of the best songwriters of the past decade and "Superabound" IS that good. IMHO, this is the best album he has done.

bobcountry@exitflagger.com
after buying a few guided by voices cd's, this doesn't seem like that many songs on one record, but i can see where the rest of the music-buying public may have been put off with this much new material at once.

anyway, i think it's a great collection of songs, showcasing frank's versatility as a writer and the deadly trio of nick vincent, eric feldman and lyle workman, exploding on every single song! joey santiago adds a delicate touch when needed as well.

here's a play-by-play on the stand out material (and there's plenty of it): the greatest led zeppelin intro that band never wrote leads into an amazing ninety-four second tirade about pong. hmm. following this is an equally classic dis on JFK ('thallasocracy') at matching length. frank's vocals and lyle's end solo take this little aggro-vignette to a whole other level. 'abstract plain' is gorgeous, to-the-point and a sweet relief following the first three minutes of thrash that start off this record. on to the sixties paraphenalia of 'calistan' - some of the best lyrics of his career - and then on to an even further jump back into the past with 'vanishing spies'. this might as well be fifties prom music for the unpopular kids. bowie's all over 'speedy marie', as he is (via iggy pop's 'china girl' from "the idiot" - a must have) on 'two reelers'. 'headache' defies category and is simply the best sixties pop song written in 1994. 'freedom rock' jumps from punk to dancehall to another "symphony of the fairlight", courtesy of eric "the man" feldman. that's about it for side one. oh yeah. if not for 'sir rockaby', there would be no grant lee buffalo. or wouldn't have been, rather.

side two is sorta tricky to disect. as nearly everyone else here has pointed out, because of the great length (and consistent quality) of material up to this point, your ears will likely be burned out by the time 'ole mulholland' drags into position. great story, but really didn't need to be the one song to break the three-and-a-half minute pop rule. 'fazer eyes' is entertaining enough and seques beautifully into the stoner bliss of 'i could stay here forever', easily my favourite on the album. his singing is tops on this track, as is the arrangement. 'superabound' is a far superior nod to late seventies elvis costello than 'two spaces' from the orange album. the rest of the record gets looser and faster with each song, leading to the 'sad punk'-like 'bad, wicked world' and the apeshit shuffle of 'pie in the sky', featuring kick-ass drumming from nick vincent (can you believe this guy played with donny and marie osmond!?!) and the classic closing line, "that's an order", repeated ad infinitum. ha-ha, frank. joke's on us. fact is, whether you're one of the few who can sit through the whole twenty-two song ordeal and still pay attention after 'fiddle riddle', or if you skip around, chances are you'll discover that you've landed on some of the best songs of this era - free of most fuckwitted "mall-ternative" rock pretention, firmly embracing the upper eschelon of songcraft and just one of the finer moments in pop history. why this, as with his other records, doesn't sell truly blows my mind. but as the man himself sings, "that is just how some things do not materialise." AMEN.

Steven.Rosenblatt@rosshardies.com
i must confess, i find these reviews strange. "itchload" recognizes, correctly, that this is one of the greatest records of all time. he, however, says that he didn't like it at first. this is downright weird. the album is an instantly recognizable masterpiece, from the opening strains of the KICK ASS (note--the only time i used capital records, whoops, letters here) "whatever happened to pong?" to the final echoes of the KICK ASS "pie in the sky". genius. now, second strange thing, are these morons who accuse the album of being "too long". to make a tired analogy, that's like saying the "white album" is too long. it's stupid. more black is better black. 22 songs. ALL great. MANY masterpieces. the album rates a 10. buy it.

lnwatts@crankfarm.com (Lance Watts)
Like some of your other readers, it took me a while to appreciate the complex beauty and vast scope of Black's second solo effort. Initially, I was completely disappointed by Teenager of the Year. After about six months, it became one of my favorite records. In my opinion, it ranks among the best records of the 90's.

jtassone@hotmail.com
Most likely stemming from his Pixies career, where he couldn't write enough songs to keep up with the demand and therefore released everything he did write, Frank Black seems to show a lack of selectiveness in this album. You could easily make one of the best albums of the nineties if you narrowed these 22 track to 12-15.

dead-beat@socal.rr.com (Taeil Kim)
"Wow! If Paul McCartney were slightly less of a fag and liked playing songs in 6/7 time, this is what it would sound like!"

That line is priceless. Well, I'm a bit caffeinated right now and that's why I'm emailing u in the wee hours of the morning. Haven't heard enough of this album yet but almost all the tracks I know of are awesome. But can all this really top Surfer Rosa?

nikus80@hotmail.com
This album rulez. The second half is great, too. A lot of people have said it, but this album deserves more than a 7 and perhaps it isn's as diverse as the White Album (but again, what is?), but if you hear only halves of it, it's great. I like Pure Denizen of The Citizen, when he plays that overabused riff, but he starts making variations on it, and when he goes dissonant and starts playing with the duration of the songs, it rulez.

ah@adamhammack.com
IMHO, (which is internet-ese for "I aM a HomO"), this is frank black's finest hour. black francis' too. charles thompson, however, had a particularly good run during potty training, which i believe warrants more praise than a simple GODDAMNED PERFECT ALBUM.

okay. it's not really GODDAMNED PERFECT. (have you noticed yet that i generally only use capital letters for comedic effect? i don't know if it's 'cause i'm lazy or just 'cause i'm wicked cool like ee cumming...)

it is a phenomenal album. but as mark said in his quaint little thingy up there, it might be a bit over-reaching. it's a little known fact that this was actually the first 146 minute album ever created. (if your copy of teenager of the year is of a shorter duration, write to charles thompson, C/O hickory ridge pork farm, to complain.) i think that at least 60, maybe 70 minutes of this stuff is just about indispensable, and the other bits float by quickly enough that you can distract yourself by masturbating vigorously between songs and/or movements of songs.

goddamned movements. these are punk/pop/rock songs with fucking movements (some of them). others are less than 2 minutes long. others rip off reggae for certain segments and thus suck for those segments. (REGGAE SUCKS!!!!)

i'm all about jamaican's and their fun drugs though. don't take me as some sort of racist or drug hater, cause i'm neither.

REGGAE JUST SUCKS IS ALL!

all right. so now that i've baited all of you rabid marley and tosh fans, i'm gonna go do what both of them advocated vociferously on numerous occasions.

foment political unrest.

.

.

.

with a doob.

lifeisbonkers@yahoo.com (James Mohr)
So I first bought this album right about this time when it came out which was just shortly after I'd gotten into FB/Pixies in high school -- in fact this was maybe the third or fourth FB/Pixies album I got. At the time I LOVED it and I still think for an album so long it's amazingly inventive and consistant. Not to say it doesn't sound like the other FB albums (it does) but it kinda has a really cool sound of it's own too, with Elvis Costello-esque keyboards meets a sort of Nuggets-style 60's rock vibe. I think "Headache" is one of the best pop singles of it's era, and a good 70% of this monstrosity is somewhat worthwhile (in fact some of my personal favs like "Big Red" and "White Noise Maker" are on the 2nd half). But yes some of the songs seem kinda underwritten and go to nowhere. In fact he does the same annoying thing on two of my favorite songs. On both the classic man-in-love-with-a-boat song "Speedy Marie" and the not-as-classic-but-good "Pure Denizan Of the Citizens Band", he only plays the brilliant catchy choruses twice and once respectively and then has the song go off into a long and relatively uninteresting boring part for the remainder of the song -- I mean a chorus as good as "Speedy Marie"'s deserves to be heard at least three times, right? Pretty good tho and holds up a great deal better than most of the "alt"-sploitation records of it's time.... a low 8!

C.F.
No, no no: this album is much better than a seven. First half is truly wonderful, second half is hardly as good, consistent, but hey it's still GOOD. On average. The second half songs are short, and FULL of changes and little melodic snippets. Sure it sounds like it was all thrown together in a big pile of pooh, (sometimes, I think it's more bland and ugly than weird) but HEY it all flies by too fast to get hung up on it. And it's all so diverse, that well, the songs wouldn't need to be good for the album itself to be interesting. And Franks voice is, as usual, wonderful, kind of unique, very emotional, and completely underrated. Also why does everyone denigrate Franks lyrics as bits of absurdist rubbish? If he'd played his cards right, and instead of saying "oh I just thought they sounded cool" - talked them up while he was in the Pixies, then people would be heralding him as some kind of genius. They paint some truly evocative images, really wonderful emotions; abstract plain, callistan: they're GREAT! And white noise, superbound, bad wicked world and another, are the only really good songs on the second side; but HOLY crud is that first side good. So I've got this revolutionary idea; skip the shitty songs. You do run into some problems here when you give that really long clash album a score of 10, but still, value for money?

Add your thoughts?


The Cult Of Ray - American 1996.
Rating = 8

The Cult of Ray DAVIES? Is that who he's talking about? If not, have him rewrite the entire album. On dis one, Frank moves away from his increasingly annoying signature sound to explore "normal" rock songwriting. On the one hand, this is great news for those of us who felt that Teenager Of The Year was testing our patience a bit -- it sounds like Frank and his new band (ALL FEATURED IN THE INSIDE PICTURE!) bothered to actually put effort into the songcraft this time around, instead of just tossing together any batch of four chords, playing them in 3/15 time and singing a bunch of nonsense over them. On the other hand, however, it's more than a bit confusing to hear a born individual like Charles Thompson churning out predictable alternative crapop like "I Don't Want To Hurt You Every Single Time" and "Punk Rock City" (which is about as far from "punk rock" as any song I've ever heard, aside from maybe Bad Religion's anemic "Punk Rock Song").

Were you impressed with the way I threw in the word "anemic" like a Spin reviewer would have?

Interesting to enjoy: the lead and rhythm guitars are split into right and left speaker so you can tune your stereo all the way to one side, plug in your own guitar and make all the songs better than they actually are! No but seriously. And the mix is more of a harder ROCK mix this time around - less of the bright shiny Vaseline-covered velvet pop cockring that made the last couple sound like an outhouse filled with Brian Wilson's poop.

Were you impressed with the way I threw in the words "Brian Wilson" like a Rolling Stone reviewer would have?

Reader Comments

avsouza@webtv.net (tony souza)
After the sprawling TOTY, this one was a bit of a disappointment for me. On first listen, at least. After repeated listening, it grew on me, but overall, this album still leaves me a little flat. Yes, there is more of a straight-ahead approach on here, but the production makes the feel of this album seem kind of dull. I agree that the ballad in the middle is bad, but also, the two instrumentals on here seem like throwaways and "Punk Rock City" doesn't do a thing for me. However, that being said, there are still several good songs on here; "Men in Black", "Jesus was Right" and "The Marsist" in particular. I would give this one a 6, or a 7 on a good day.

bobcountry@exitflagger.com
sometimes i wonder if frank's the kind of guy who listens to his own stuff. the execution of this album leads me to believe so. i know after i've listened to teenager of the year, i'm ready for something pretty simplistic. imagine how much more intensely he might have felt after WRITING it!

Steven.Rosenblatt@rosshardies.com
yea, i have a thought. i think frank is about to "jump the shark". but he hasn't done it just yet.

jtassone@hotmail.com
The 'Ray' is in reference to the science fiction writer Ray Bradbury.

Add your thoughts?


Oddballs - EMusic 2000
Rating = 7

This is a compilation of b-sides and rarities recorded between 1994 and 1997 (the Teenager Of The Year/The Cult Of Ray years). As a "celebration" of this "compilation," I'll use "alliteration" in my "descripitation" of GODDAMMIT DESCRIPITATION ISN'T A WORD FUCK YOU DEFECTIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY

From 1994 Headache CD-single #2: Jaunty joyful "Oddball," punk'n'peculiar "At The End Of The World" and Pixiesy piss-off "Hate Me"

From 1995 Men In Black 7": Beau Brummels' "Just A Little"!

From 1995 Men In Black CD-single #1: Raw rocker "Pray A Little Faster," repetitive rambler "Announcement" and windless Weezerer "You Never Heard About Me"

From 1996 The Cult Of Ray Bonus EP: Tremeloed talky "Village of The Sun," brusque bass-based "Baby, That's Art," compassionate countrified "Can I Get A Witness" and sicko shorty "Everybody Got The Beat"

From 1996 Songs In The Key Of X: Music From And Inspired By The X-Files V/A compilation: Superb sad serious song "Man Of Steel"

Previously unreleased: Superfun springy slider "Jumping Beans"

Not sure: Roxy Music's "Remake/Remodel" GODDAMMIT 'ROXY MUSIC' ISN'T ALLITERATIVE FUCK YOU BRYAN "ASSHOLE" FERRY (A FERRY FOR ASSHOLES)

NO WAIT BUT "REMAKE/REMODEL" IS ALLITERATIVE NEVER MIND BRYAN "ROXY MUSIC" FERRY (A FERRY FOR DOUCHEBAGS)

One thing about Frank Black that they don't teach you in Black Person School is that he loves an odd chord change. This CD features tons of quirky melodic oddballs! In fact, that'd be a great title for the album: !.

In additional fact (though it's actually an opinion), nearly half of these songs are worthy of inclusion on official releases, and even the weaker tracks all contain at least one striking musical hook. But that's Jack "Frank" Black for you, always trying to make you laugh with his Tenacious D songs!

You know, lots of people come up to me often and say, "Hey Mark, my shitty band just recorded an album and we can't think of a name for it. Can you give us any good ideas?" Of course I can! Here is a list of album titles just ripe for your picking, my treat:

Stairway To Lovin'
All Her Hits, Live! Disc Three
Chandelier Filled With Peckers
Going To The Ventures' Crack Party
I'll Give You A Scar, Alright.... A NASCAR!
I Go "Ga-Ga" For Lady GaGa! (Then I Gag, a)
Band Club (*hearts*) Lonely Pepper's Sergeant
"Yo, Where My Shorty At?": Hip-Hop For Midgets
7" EP Intended To Be Played At 58 RPM, If Possible
You Can't Spell "ALBUM" Without "ALcoholic BUMs"
Marmalade Bag With Socks, George And A Thing -- Forever!
"You're Fired!": A Tribute To Donald Trump's Pending Death
Ooby Dooby! The Dramatic Works Of Whoever Wrote "Ooby Dooby"
Queer Gay Fags: A Celebration Of England's Strangest And Most Jovial Cigarettes
Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture I Wanna Cum Inside Your Grandma 4
In My Opinion, Cheap Trick Didn't Get Really Good Until The Mid-'80s. Here, Buy My Album
My Best Friend Died On 9/11. He Died Of A Heart Attack In Montana Though, So Who Gives A Shit
Two Albums On One CD: (a) Thirteen Glimpses Into The Cold Abyss Of The Human Soul / (b) Look At My Dangly Penis!

Add your thoughts?


Frank Black And The Catholics - SpinArt 1998
Rating = 8

The most full-band-sounding album he's made since Doolittle! Great cymbal-crashin' drums, a higher percentage of gruff shouty vocals from Franklin than expected (as opposed to his straight nerdy dipsy-doodle sing thing) and a great collection of fully-composed, intelligently-arranged three- to four-minute guitar-driven pop rock songs of varying moods, speeds and influences. This might be his best post-Pixies album, actually. The vocal melodies are instantly unforgettable -- just try getting that fucking "and the news is gonna break, and the noose is gonna break" bit out of your head -- and it's just one great song after another after another. Still, I can't give it a ten because there are a couple of tunes that I personally can't STAND (namely, "Steak 'N' Sabre" and that fucking "and the news is gonna break, and the noose is gonna break" song). But you don't need a "10" from me to know that this album is well worth your time -- not just if you're a Pixies fan, but if you're a fan of melodic guitar rock in general.

Say, you know what this record reminds me of? The Pixies' Come On Pilgrim. Just like that album, the mix is very live-sounding (as if you're in the garage with the band), and it sounds like a great new band getting their shit together for the first time. The main difference is that, where that album is really punky, this one is more just straight rock music. But really well-written melodic rock music of the sort you've likely never heard if you're under 18 years old and rely on MTV and alternative rock radio to introduce you to new music. See, those outlets have no interest in bringing creative music to you. The people at MTV and radio stations are human beings trying to make a living (and, for some, get stinkin' rich on beer), so all they're really doing is going to work each day and trying to introduce you to bands that sound just like other bands that have already proven to move lots of units. When they're done, they go home to their families and drink a snooker of brandy. Music is just a job to them, not a love and obsession like it is to you and me. If you've already bought all the great classic rock albums and want to learn about really GOOD "alternative" music, you have to check out college radio stations, because they generally rely on student funds, not advertising, and can thus play whatever the hell they want. Look at me, I'm Jello Biafra!

Which reminds me -- I just re-read my Jello Biafra reviews and realized that I used WAY too many adverbs. And not even good ones. Just space-wasting crap like "frighteningly intense" or "incredibly interesting". I hope I don't do that in all of my reviews - jesus, I must look like an asshole!

Especially since I don't have eyes or a nose, and my mouth is just a little wrinkly hole that poop comes out of.

Reader Comments

avsouza@webtv.net (tony souza)
Much better. That live feeling they have on here is the fact that they recorded these songs straight to two-track tape which means they went in, set up and played and at the end took what they thought was the best version. So in a sense, this is almost a live recording. I agree, the songs on here are very good. Just your basic straight-ahead rock 'n' roll songs, only with more creativity than your average band.

bobcountry@exitflagger.com
with the exact same setup as the last record (except for frank and lyle trading speakers), frank black, lyle workman, david mccaffrey and scott boutier took three days (!) to bash out eleven new songs (plus a cover version) and call it an album.

the opening thirty seconds of 'all my ghosts' features the quartet hamming it up on the green acres theme song (what american band hasn't done that between songs on a bad gig?!?) and even allowing the masses to hear them botch the beginning of the song they're supposed to be playing, pause, and then begin it again - almost as if they planned it all along.

determined to have more fun than last time, whether or not the songs are great, it's a much more satisfying listen than "cult" and serves as a great indicator of things to come from this team (with a minor tweak in the lineup not long after this album's completion).

borrowing from his own songbook ('letter to memphis' to be precise), 'all my ghosts walks with great stride down AM radio lane, featuring the only on-pitch backing vocals by the rhythm section contained on any catholics' release. sorry guys. great ending too.

'back to rome' is easily one of my favourite of frank's songs. played ever so beautifully by the band, they sound like a sober crazy horse to frank's neil young. almost brings a tear to my eye.

'i gotta move' has a great, sinister pace to it, as does 'suffering'. 'king and queen of siam' seems like the most carefully crafted song on the record, which (like the way-too-long-but-still-rockin' 'i need peace') sounds as if it were written during the "toty" days.

the larry norman cover is a bit silly, but if you know anything about frank's (or rather, charles') upbringing, it's one of the more confessional recordings of his career.

the other songs sort of run together, mainly due to the "live-to-two-track" ethos of all the catholics' records. i could live with some backing vocals being overdubbed, here and there, to fill up the space. still, it's a fine piece of art and makes the next record look and sound ALL the better!

Steven.Rosenblatt@rosshardies.com
frank has finally "jumped the shark". i don't see how someone can compare this to his sublime eponymous first disc and "teenager of the year".

nikus80@hotmail.com (Aprentice)
Some musician seem to carefully select the order of the tracks on an album. Some just randomize them a bit, or put the strongest at the beggining.

Frank Black is better than them. He just puts the tracks in alphabetic order!

The album? Oh, its quite nice. It may have a live feel, but it has a good sound. It rocks. Literally..

Dog Gone (a.k.a. "The News is Gonna Break") is kinda boring, but looks like a song that wants to annoy. Instead of repeating a powerful sentence like The End's "Love you" or Let it be's ... well, "Let it be", The Noose is gonna break is sung always the same. And it doesn't sounds well.

ah@adamhammack.com
7 of 10 thingies for this one

the first three tracks WILL BE covered by any band that i manage to cobble together if i ever manage to cobble a band together. this guy looks like dr. moreau era brando these days, but he is without a doubt one of the most talented songwriter's i've ever had the pleasure of hearing.

the rest of this album, i must say, is a bit of a mixed affair. there are stretches of it, sometimes two or three tracks at a time, that i can't say really strike me as the kind of innovative songs that mr. charles thompson is known for. some of them are down-right generic, in as much as any genius songwriter can write a generic song. (johnny ramone, i'm looking at your dead ass.)

in conclusion, live to two track is not the wisest career decision mr. fat-butt ever made. this pales in comparison to "teenager of the year" in terms of quality and breadth of scope, and also i personally resent people who make albums that are even this marginally great without any overdubs. (i suck at playing instruments. my songs are great though.) it's just that i feel like he's capable of breaking more new ground if he would bother to continue refining his approach, and yet for some reason he seems to be regressing in terms of complexity and innovation. (manitoba, a more recent track, still kicks more ass than everything that i've ever eaten, however. you must buy the album from which it comes, the one i can't remember the name of, as soon as you finish reading what i'm trying to tell you.)

frank black is one of the many blessings mark prindle hath bestowed upon me, and this album is particularly boss.

random curse of the day: "fat tits"

Add your thoughts?


Pistolero - What Are 2000
Rating = 8

More hot rockin' tunes ready to be added to the playlist of your favorite alternative FM rock station! Just like David Lowery's post-Camper Van Beethoven Cracker, Bob Mould's post-Husker DuSugar and Jamie Farr's AfterMash, Frank Black's post-Pixies work is generally accepted as less revolutionary and creative than The Pixies, but the man can still write a great rock song. This one is similar to the last, with lots of midtempo distorted crangin' and singin', plus a few moments of Frank doing his lounge jazz balladry thing. It's a pity he'll never really get his financial due. Songs like "Bad Harmony" and "I Switched You" SHOULD be hits. And in a better radio world, they would be. He's a good songwriter!

As a whole, this CD isn't quite as impressive as the last, but it's still evidence that good old well-written guitar rock still exists in this world where everybody claims that rock is dead and John Cougar inserts that stupid overabused "Yeah! Whoo!" dance cliche into his latest single. I bet even my dad would like these Catholics albums!

Do my new reviews suck? Be honest.

Reader Comments

Itchload@aol.com
I know i probably should have just included this with the other TOTY review, but oh well. I pretty much agree with you on your last 2 frank black and the catholics/pistolero reviews. (oh yeah, Cult of Ray refers to Ray Bradbury, the sci fi writer). I'm very excited for Frank's new album, Dog in the Sand, (jan 30). I should also note that frank just released a free album Sunny Sunday Valley Groove Day or something like that, on the internet. I just downloaded it, and it's very nice..i mean it's free, so i can't complain. How many (insert expletive) B-sides does this guy have? In the last 2 days i've filled 2 cds worth of rare material from his career, most of it is very worthy. And i'm not even including his B-sides album "Oddballs" (which, in extremely annoying fashion, can only be ordered off the internet). There's also a Pixies B-sides album coming out in March (about time, jesus, and it still isn't complete, it's missing some non-lp non-b-sides material (I Can't Forget--the best Pixies rare track in my book). Here's my advice to 4AD: Release a 4 CD box set of a Pixies live album, all the pixies BBC songs, and all their raraties. There. None of this incomplete rare b-side crap, or that incomplete BBC session CD, or "death to the pixies" where you had to pay for songs you already have in order for the live disc. Sorry I'm ranting. I should probably say some things about Pistolero since i always get annoyed when someone submit a review that launches off on a tangent. Bad Harmony is great, I Switched You is the Hardest song Frank's recorded since Planet of Sound. So. Bay is his best closing song since "Gouge Away." Skeleton Man sounds like a live version of a Teenager outtake. I like this one because it's not as samey as the first Catholics' album. Nevertheless, some of the lighter tempo stuff doesn't compare with his classic "Speedy Marie, Abstract Plain, Ana, Places Named After Numbers" days. You're Such a Wire sounds like it'd be really cool..but it's kind of boring (Frank likes it though, plays it live a lot). Smoke up is too chunky, Frank was always good at ending a song like that before you wanted it to end, but he drags some of these songs a bit (possibly due to the lack of edits). Now, Frank has had about 40 different voices through his years, and lately he's been using his gruff throaty howl for the rock songs and his nasally wail for the slower ones. They work well...but sometimes i shed a tear that the voice that once sang "Walking in the Breeze..on the plains of old Sodoņa" could be gone forever...oh well, Frank is still awesome. Sorry if this was long and boring.

Atangana@msco.freeuk.com
absolutely superb songs on this album. My favourites are Western Star and Bad Harmony. the album just kicks ass and is really powerful.

thecomeons@yahoo.com
i think frank black is great. i guess i wouldnt be writing this is i didnt think he was. i was a big pixies fan. as far as i know i produced the only pixies fanzine on the planet. it was called rock a my soul, after a song the bastards never actually released! i thought they'd get around to releasing it. i started to put the fanzine together during the recording of bossanova and it looked like they had rerecorded all their songs. turned out they left out rock a my soul. one of the best ones. never mind. shit. i didnt mean the nirvana pun. frank black and the catholics is probably the best frank black album. i dig the others. teenager of the year is probably my next fave. the first catholics album had something about it. i guess it was no overdubs. fieldmans keyboards fucked me off a lot on the other ones. pistolero is cool too. dog in the sand was a let down. maybe its the guitars, gilbert doesnt cut it as much as the other guy. oh yeah, i have some rock a my soul articles on the internet... http://pixiesweb.tsx.org

bobcountry@exitflagger.com
hallo mark. it's been a while since i checked out your site. back when fugazi was all i could think about. now, upon revisiting, i've discovered not just a section on the pixies (bravo!) but also one on frank black (double bravo, plus sprinkles of kudos for actually having nice things to say about his post-pixie work). having immersed myself in his solo work over the last three months, i thought i might as well put in my two cents about the man who is a good man. i'll send each album's thing in seperate emails so that you (or whoever does this part for you now) doesn't have to guess where one line of text ends and another begins. thanks for having a really great vehicle for completely useless opinions to clutter the communet. more power to you! viva la quirk!

bobcountry@exitflagger.com
i get so excited when i think of this album. bringing nick vincent back into the picture as producer (read: quality control) and exchanging lyle workman for rich gilbert at the lead guitar depot, the whole team figured out this equation: fun + focus + fucking great rock songs = PISTOLERO!!!

frank returns to some familiar strengths and produces tunes ten times as tuneful as the preceding two albums, and digs deep enough into his imagination to conjure up more fabulous characters and creatures to wax philosoph' about.

and the singing......

once upon a time, black francis could coo like a little victorian school girl only to shriek like the bitches of beelzebub with no discernable transition inbetween.

frank black does both at the same time now, only the singing is more like that of a world-weary traveller who could tell you a few things, if you've got the time and a taste for southwestern cuisine. the shriek is still fully intact, though a little more humane.

getting more in touch with the r&b he grew up on, the sly otis redding delivery on 'i switched you' catapults this song light years ahead of say rev. horton heat or iggy pop giving this song a whirl. and then the screams..... to think that something so god-ugly could make someone smile so wide!

'western star' is princely, and the "'Heroes'-period Bowie" bit just sends me over the moon. 'i love your brain', 'smoke up' (which actually isn't about pot) and 'billy radcliffe' fit so well together, making up a solid core of great storytelling and top-notch rock writing for a truly amazing record.

the few times pistolero slows down, there's still uncharted territory for frank to cross, like the hypnotic drone of '85 weeks' and the grand epics 'so hard to make thing out' and 'south bay' get my brain working overtime.

this whole record transcends an arizona desert, acid-flashback sort of affair without the requisite psychedelic sonic trickery or jim morrison mellodrama, but rather with some of the most consistent and esoteric pop/rock writing of the twentieth century.

if this had been frank's last production, i could've walked away satisfied. but it wasn't. and instead of trying to top this album on the same terms, he switched stratospheres and went sideways, into a whole other "western territory". what a wise man he proves to be for it.

bobcountry@exitflagger.com
RE: Dog In The Sand

also known as "frank black and the catholics sing songs for lovers (of obscure geography)". with twice the band as other catholics' records, and at half the volume, playing 'till four in the morning every night so they could make it sound like "goat head's soup", this amazing ensemble created THE hangover record of the twenty-first century - so far anyway.

bringing eric feldman's cinematic "chuck lowell" piano flourishes, morris tepper's sweet acoustic flourishes and joey santiago's lazy surf and twang back into the picture (plus newcomer dave phillips), the catholics 3.0 brought about frank's vision of "stepping further and further back in time", creating an atmosphere containing everything americana.

from hank williams ('llano del rio') to meatloaf ('if it takes all night'); from mid-seventies stones ('hermaphroditos' - wonder if it's about jagger? - and half of this record) to johnny rivers ('robert onion'). not to mention traces of van morrison, the animals, ray charles, bob dylan, neil young, sam & dave and even including his own previous work - consider 'bullet' a dusty, drunken reworking of 'nimrod's son' with an even darker storyline.

where this man and his mates are headed, who can say? one thing is clear now: with the release of this record, frank has just freed himself of being known as a one-trick pony. something tells me his legacy will indicate a thoroughbred of all trades.

now, if he can just find a way to sell albums...

njames@nustats.com (Nathan James)
(Black's post-Pixies work is generally accepted as less revolutionary and creative than The Pixies)

uh, by who exactly? every musician ive ever met(and me too) feel that the pixies were extremely basic in every regard and frank black solo was not basic in any regard(up until these last few records). is this even opinion?

Add your thoughts?


Dog In The Sand - What Are Records 2000.
Rating = 8

There are lots of good things about creative, catchy song melodies, and one of those things is Frank Black. His experiences of life and music are collected together on a CD entitled Cog In The Machinery which can be purchased at your local CDNow chain of buying stores. Mr. Black presents here another excellent "guitar rock" album which will alienate nobody young or old. He doesn't scream or play weird stuff like he did in the Pixies sometimes. All of these songs are melodic and filled with chunky rock and roll guitars (TWO of 'em! Sometimes one of 'em even slides!), calmer acoustical guitars, pianos, organs and good vocal hooks. People can't argue that rock is dead when Frank Black keeps coming up with easy to play, easy to understand melodies and countermelodies that have not been enjoyed on the radio or records before by other members of the press or their less-interesting brethren, the public. Some of the songs on here are entitled "Robert Onion," "Llano Del Rio," "Hermaphroditos" and "Bullet." "Bullet" is a funny song about making Marilyn Monroe's murder seem like a suicide but it not being a mystery, baby not to me. But that's a song by the Misfits. The Frank Black song is probably about something else.

In conclusion, you shouldn't expect a shimmering, punky mess of quirky oddballness such as Teenager Of The Year or The Pixies. But if you've ever heard a Catholics CD, then you should know that. A more traditional approach doesn't ruin him -- to me, it just makes him seem even smarter because he pulls it off so well. He hasn't invented anything new with The Catholics, but he does a shit hell of a good job creating new rock songs that SHOULD be huge hits on normal FM rock stations, but probably won't be because the immense talent of Blink-182 is taking up all the space in the playlists.

Reader Comments

DarcyDDirtball@aol.com
After the Pixies Frank Black was creating something new - his music was doing things that no one else had done. I hear that his stage name was intended to portray him as a hard working rock musican - that he switched from Black Francis to Frank Black because people didn' t really get what he was trying to do with the name Black Francis - people confused it for having something to do with the occult. So hard working Frank Black was spending a lot of time over-dubbing and making his albums perfect untill one day hard working Frank Black decides that he doesn't want to actually work on his albums, he just wants to make some shitty "rock and roll" music and record it live on two track - he thinks that by seting up his own equipment fans blinded by their love of the man will still see a hard working musican. Well, tons of shitty ass bands set up their own equipment. FRANK BLACK ROCKS, FRANK BLACK AND THE CATHOLICS BLOW. HEY FAT MAN, QUIT BEING SUCH A LAZY PRICK. YOU'RE LETTING FANS DOWN.

levez@eperdu.net
By the way, the last track on the album (the title-track, I think) is a remake of some old b-side. I think it was the b-side to 'Hang on to your Ego' if I remember right. But it was sans-lyrics and a different, more synthetic recording, back then.

fuxmeister@mac.com
dude... bullet by the misfits is the one about kennedy being shot and kennedys shattered heads hits concrete. and some song whose name i cant come up with that is the one about marilyn monroe. you probably knew that though. and now i'm annoyed because i can't think of the name of the song.

(four minutes later)

who killed marilyn. thats the name of the song. just came to me. ok

Add your thoughts?


Black Letter Days - spinART 2002.
Rating = 6

I've been following Frank Black since he replaced Ed Smalle as pianist/arranger of the Revelers in 1926, and through all the years, all the Palmolive Hour and House of Wrigley episodes, the ill-fated "Sieberling Singers" era on into his days with Kim Deal in The Pixies when he was in his '90s, he has never EVER recorded an album that sounds as much like everybody else as this one does. It's almost as if he's turning to his fans and saying, "I'm tired of being an original entertainer. It's time to get back to my 'roots' that I never had and record a bunch of basic folksy countryish songs with acoustic rhythm guitar, slidey electric lead guitar, piano and obvious melodies from here til yesterday!" And I say FUYCK YOU, FRANCIS SCOTT BLACKEY (except for that really good, creative CD that you released at the same time as this one, which rules).

The first five songs book along pretty nicely with drama, intensity and diversity, but then he gets stuck in this near-endless rut of generic Acoustica (which, FYI, would make a hilarious name for an acoustic Metallica tribute act) -- it doesn't sound a bit like James Taylor, but it's a whole of a lot closer to "Fire And Rain" than it is to Devil's Workshop! To what end? Why dumb your music down? The obvious conclusion is that he must be really INTO this kind of music right now. And that's understandable. Nobody should stick to one sound if they don't want to. But as a listener, I can't really recommend that anybody go spend $16 on this 74-minute jangly bore because I didn't -- and WOULDN'T. Even when he does oddball things with the melodies (like in "Valentine and Garuda," which abruptly shifts from total Bob Seger crap to a whole bunch of chords that really were never meant to follow each other), you can't escape the "mood" of the album -- a collegey pot-smoking young vegetarian hippy sound, alternative music for people who are frightened by noise. This generation's Drivin' 'N' Cryin'. Boring enough to get a 6, despite five great songs at the beginning, two in the middle (I am ALL ABOUT "1826"! Upbeat! Unique! Neat!) and two near the end ("21 Reasons" is ALL ABOUT me! Unusual! Practical! Useful! Beautiful! We shop the world, then bring it all back to you online and in our stores! Find us online at http://www.thetradewindsshop.com/). But I guess that's what you get when you take nine great songs and intersperse them with two mediocre ones and seven that are literally SUCKING LIQUID SHIT THROUGH A STRAW STICKING OUT OF MY ASS right now.

LITERALLY!!!!!

I mean, they're READING while they do it!!!!

My final analcyst -- Buy every Frank Black and Pixies album (and Cows album) before you buy this one. Then STILL don't buy this one.

Even though it's pretty good.

I hope it's okay that I've started selling ads in the middle of my reviews!

Reader Comments

DharmaRose47@aol.com
Have we listened to the same cd?? Black Letter days is fantastic!! Devil's Workshop runs a close second and both are probably tied with Dog in the sand. It's always a matter of perspective, but i am at a loss as to how anyone would pan BLD's so badly?

avsouza@webtv.net (Tony Souza)
Yes, the first five songs are great (although the first "Black Rider" with the backing vocals does irritate me sometimes. The "Black Rider" at the end is Black doing his Dylan impression and doing it well) and "1826" is the best thing on here. "Farewell Bends" grew on me after awhile.

Despite all this there is a sameness to it and too many songs start out with Black strumming his acoustic and then the band joining in after awhile. There is nothing wrong with that per se, it's just that this is a fairly long album and it does become tedious after awhile. Also, some of these songs seem half-baked, but that could be just the loose playing between the members that Black is trying to achieve.

Anyway, the songs on Dog in the Sand are much stronger IMHO. This is one of those rare times where a double album would have been better - take the songs off Devil's Workshop and include them with BLD. That way it would have broke some of the acoustic monotony, and it would have added some much needed punch to BLD. It would have also saved the fans a little money.

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Devil's Workshop - spinART 2002.
Rating = 8

When Frank Black, Tom Waits and Paul Westerberg all announced that they were releasing TWO studio cds at the same time, I was so angry at these three men, I nearly forgot my manners. But if the other five are as good as THIS one, then sign my name to the AARP "Everybody has to put out two CDs at the same time to combat file-sharing" petition!

On this release, former Pixie Blank Frack continues his ongoing powerpoint presentation to those feeble-minded rock "fans" who insist that there are no new melodies or chord sequences and therefore it's okay that their favorite bands are derivative to the point of insulting the intelligence of anybody who owns more than 10 CDs. There ARE undiscovered pop melodies, and as long as there are, Mr. Black will find them. He'll find them in "The Kingly Cave" as the acoustic guitar plays some inscrutable 13-chord "hook" as a high-pitched electric eck-eck-ecks on top and a tale is told of a bad DRUG trip in a BIG mansion. He'll also find them in many other songs. Just trust me on this. Like you trusted that guy with the flute to lure the mice out of your town. Remember that, King Asshole!?!?!?

You ever get a headache that really hurts? I get them like every day - including right now! There's a part of me that hopes it's not a brain tumor. That part of me is somewhat large.

Most of these songs are uptempo, bouncy swingin' numbers built on acoustic rhythm strumming, expertly played lead distorted electrics soloing through the entirety of the track and Charles Thompson telling tales of loves new ("Velvety"), long-distance ("San Antonio, TX") and lost forever ("Whiskcy In Your Shoes" and "Out Of State," the latter a great set of lyrics unfortunately attached to the most self-derivative music he's ever written -- is it a ripoff of "Motorway To Roswell"? Or "Trompe Le Monde"? Or BOTH?? Nobody shall ever know. *slams book on history's finger*).

It's a shortass CD though - 11 songs in 32 minutes. That's about as close as one can legally get to an EP while still charging $17.99 a purchase. Did you hear the news? Frank Black is an asshole!

Talented asshole though.

He can shoot bananas forty feet in the air out of that thing!

No, but I'm kidding. This is a fantastic CD, especially for people who loved that "get up and go" feel of Surfer Rosa. Do you want to hear a joke that Redd Foxx just told me on his album? Here it is:

What's the best way to cut off a cat's tail?

Repossess his Cadillac!

Reader Comments

levez@eperdu.net
Worth noting that 'Velvety' is a remake of 'Velvety Instrumental', an old Pixies B-side.

Add your thoughts?

Show Me Your Tears - spinART 2003.
Rating = 7

A long time ago in Boston Town, a portly gentleman named Charles Thompson started calling himself Black Francis and leading a really neat little band called the Pixies. These magical Pixies created something unique and spectacular - a finely-tuned mix of glossy clean guitar sparkle, speedy punk energy, charming and unpredictable vocal humor, brilliant melodic know-how and some crazy whim that a verse should always have 5 or 6 lines rather than the traditional 4 or 8. When Charles "Black Francis" Thompson broke up the band in 1992, he switched his fake name around and broke out on his own to create music that sounded unique like the Pixies, but goofier and lacking intrigue. When this post-Pixies solo rigmarole became a lonely land of pain after three albums, Frank found himself some friends called the Catholics and lay back to pursue a more normal, predictable type of straightforward classic rock sound of goodness.

And that was five years and SIX albums ago! Since then, Charles "Frank 'Black Francis" Black' Thompson and the Catholics have been churning 'em out left and right like a pig making bacon out of its own hind legs. This latest effort sees the men pursuing a more country-ish feel on a good number of tracks, with acoustic and pedal steel guitars enjoying the company of a harmonica, piano and organ as happy ol' pickin' and grinnin' early '70s Stonesy numbers yet again fail to make it onto FM radio where they belong. A few of the songs 'rock,' but not very much, and definitely more in a '50s/'60s goodtime way than you'd expect from the guy that once sang for Venom. I'll grant you that Frank Black never sang for Venom and the last sentence was a bit misleading, but only if you'll grant me that this album is total CLASSIC rock, and deserves to be heard, loved and cherished by rednecks and 6th graders the worldround.

One thing I can't NOT comment NOT ISN'T about, though, is that Frank's songwriting has gotten perhaps a little TOO normal. Once was a time when you could count on him to totally screw with your idea of song structure every time out-- the notes you'd expect would be replaced by others, the choruses would be delayed a few extra beats -- and nothing he wrote sounded like anything you'd heard before. This simply isn't the case on "Show Me Your Rears, (Old Women with AIDS)." Even if you're too young to notice the "When I Was Young" (Animals) riff in "Massif Centrale" or the "Betrayal Takes Two" (Richard Hell) motif in "When Will Happiness Find Me Again?," surely you can't miss the "Shambala" (Three Dog Night) melody in "Jaina Blues," because you love Three Dog Night and totally always brag about that time Chuck Negron fractured his penis.

To close suddenly and awkwardly, the music of Frank Black and the Catholics is a safe and catchy tool for weaning your parents off of that Andrew Lloyd Weber SHIT they're playing every time I hide behind the headboard and pee on them while they're having sex.

Reader Comments

jtassone@hotmail.com
interesting review... not really.

i hope this is frank's last album with the catholics and he will soon 'mix it up' again.

Nothing is new... as much as i like springsteen, l. cohen, bobby dylan and other 60's troubadours, hearing frank mimic these artist has become hohum... of course all the songs are great, but when i play this album i feel the need to go to the pharmacy and the liquor store.

massif centrale owns..

great lyrical content throughout

8 out of 10.

avsouza@webtv.net (Tony Souza)
The picture showing the neck of a peddle steel guitar made me a little nervous - seeing it I knew he was going to continue in the same vein he has been in for the last few albums. But because he's Frank Black, I bought it anyway.

In the end, I needn't have worried: this album, though far from being his best work, has enough good songs on it to overshadow the weaker spots.

The good; "Nadine", "Jaina Blues", "New House of the Pope", "Massif Central" "My Favorite Kiss".

The "just ok, nothing special": "Everything is New", "The Snake", "Coastline" "Manitoba".

The bad: "Horrible Day", "This Old Heartache" "Goodbye Lorraine".

Of all the songs FB has done, there are hardly any numbers that I actually despise. However, "Goodbye Lorraine" is one of those songs. Luckily, it's offset by "Massif Central", my favorite song on here and one of my favorites from him, period (the similarity to the Animal's song notwithstanding. That was pretty observant of you to pick up on that.)

I also agree about the straightforwardness of the lyrics and song structure. I know that he broke up with his wife, so that has a lot to do with it - understandably - but I miss his off-center lyrics.

plaidsmock@hotmail.co (Brad Halverson)
What the frig ever happened to good ol' heart strings?! Am I the only one to have mine gently tugged by this albums mix of heartache and optimism? I usually don't pay much mind to what the critics think (at least the ones from Rolling Stone and its kin) but the mostly negative to middling reviews for this album kind of bother me. The thing that keeps getting brought up is that Frank isn't doing anything new here. Personally I disagree. While this album continues the heartfelt countryish leanings of Black Letter Days, it's a lot easier to get into. The seemingly simple tunes on BLD usually hid hook upon hook in typical Frank fashion, while all the songs on Tears (save "Massif Centrale") are all pretty simple, and rarely have more than one good pop hook per song.

While this makes the album feel less substantial than his previous work, it also makes this album really easy to get into, which is something a Frank Black album has never been. True, it seems like I burnt out on Show Me Your Tears fairly quickly, (especially considering how I keep finding new things to like about Teenage of the Year to this day) but as far as I'm concerned this accessible little country pop album is exactly what Black's discography needed. While he's covered all these styles before, he's never done so with such a sense of simplicity and tradition. Hell, so long as he doesn't start making a habit out of this kind of thing, I welcome these simple little tunes with gusto.

As far as the songs go, "Massif Centrale" is by far the best here, and while its multi-hooked complexity makes the other songs stand out as being a bit one-dimensional, it doesn't matter as this song is one of Black's best. "Everything is New", "The Snake", "Manitoba", and "Coastline" are all highlights too, but there are no actual bad songs on the album, unless you count the kinda hokey "Goodbye Lorraine". Sure I hope Frank returns to his more complex style in the future, but for now this is a great album to listen to when you're feeling a bit emotional, which is something I wouldn't know about because I'm a big tough man and don't have emotions. Oh! Thought I'd mention that Frank just released some of the leftovers from this album on iTunes if anybody is interested. Three of the four tracks are kind of B-sidesque in quality, but "Preacher's Daughter" is a brilliant little piece of work. So look into it.

Oh! And as of this writing I just found out that Frank Black recently moved to my home town of Portland, Oregon. Welcome aboard Frank. A word of advice; Don't talk to Art Alexacis. He's a nice guy and all, but he just won't shut up. "I love my daughter! I had a bad childhood! I love my daughter!" Sheesh.

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One More Road For The Hit - TuneCore 2006
Rating = 8

This is a compilation of b-sides and rarities recorded between 1998 and 2003 (the Frank Black and the Catholics/Pistolero/Dog in the Sand/Black Letter Days/Devil's Workshop/Show Me Your Tears years). As a "haberdashery" of this "fluffernuttery," I'll use "disgusting imagery" in my "cemetery": From 1998 All My Ghosts CD-single: Bland as a tongue just removed from a human mouth, on which you are now chewing "Living On Soul"

From 1999 Pistolero (Japanese Edition): Monkees-esque as a shirt made from Michael Nesmith's bedbug-infested pubic hair "Valley Of Our Hope"

From 1999 I Gotta Move CD-single: Cowpunk as falling face down into a wheelbarrow of calves' anuses "Humboldt County Massacre"

From 2000 The Powerpuff Girls: Heroes and Villains V/A compilation: Anxious and bassy as a man having his intestines devoured by gigantic carniverous fish "Pray For The Girls"

From 2000 Robert Onion CD-single: Slow organ jangle as Out Of Timey as Michael Stipe's spent penis stuck inside Fred Schneider's unwiped rectum because they both fell asleep immediately afterwards "Pan American Highway"; Piano/acoustic punk as spiky as a pair of golf cleats worn upside-down by a paraplegic courtesy of a sadistic shoe store employee "Angst"

From 2001 Dog In The Sand (Japanese Edition): Strummy as a barely alive woman with her veins stretched out from her body to string a harp "Le Cigare Volent"

From 2001 St. Francis Dam Disaster cD-single: Dark and strange as an African-American with 54 penises squirting radioactive semen all over your daughter "Constant Sorrow Man"

From 2003 Nadine CD-single: Driving and worried as a mother who doesn't realize her baby is embedded in the treads of her rear right tire "Ludwigshafen"

From 2003 iTunes Exclusive EP: Speedy and dramatic as an actress drowning in her own blood due to an amphetamine overdose "Show Me Your Tears"; playful and bouncy as a beach ball made by pumping oxygen into a kitten "Don't Clip Your Wings"; countryish as four rednecks sharing a bathtub of diarrhea "Preacher's Daughter"; tough and bendy as a drill sergeant with his spine blown to pieces by a landmine "A Dab'll Do Ya"

It is astonishing how many great songs are on this record. Catchy, creative, uptempo, smart, fun -- seriously, it's ridiculous that (a) this deleted download-only compilation ranks up there with any of Frank Black's real albums, and (b) shitbands like Weezer even bother. Actually, what's most ridiculous is that (c) Frank Black's solo material hasn't been all over the airwaves earning him a million dollars a year for the past two decades. He's one of the most consistent songwriters in the business! Stated simply, do not consider yourself free until you own a copy of One More Road For The Hit.

You know, lots of people come up to me often and say, "Hey Mark, I just recorded an album of bawdy X-rated novelty songs, but I can't think of a title for it. Can you give me any ideas?" Of course I can! Here is a list of album titles just ripe for your picking, my treat:

Songs About Fucking Big Blacks
Titters, Hooters and Syphilitic Genitalia
Let Me Slip My S(chl)ong Into Your (r)Ear
Face Down, Ass Also Down (You're A Corpse)
Let's Put The "X" Back In "Alzheimer's Disease"
Bottoms Up! Oh Hang On Some Poop Is Coming Out
Not A Dry Seat In The House! Songs About Incontinence
"Nip Slip" Isn't Just Slang For An Internment Camp Escapee Anymore
Butt Fuckin'! That's Right, I'm Jamming A Lit Cigarette Into Your Labia
Liquor In The Front, Poker In The Back, and Loseyourerection In The Middle
The Needle You're Using To Play This Record Is As Big As My Dick! No Wait
The Frisky Follies of Master Bates, E. Jaculates and Axe Adentallyhangshimself
Pussy Needs Her Milk! So I'm Squeezing It Out Of An African Woman's Emaciated Breast
You've Got Seamen In Your Dinghy! Unfortunately, I'm Autistic and Just Pointing Out A Fact
If You're Not Hot And Horny, Then You're Not A Rhinoceros And Thus Not Part Of My Target Audience
Oops, I Pulled A Boner! (So Hard That I Tore It Off And Now Blood And Sperm Are Shooting All Over The Room)
Put "Youtube" In "Myspace," I'll Put My "Twitter" On Your "Facebook," And We'll Both Shout "Yahoo!" (Until You Notice The "Rotten.com" Stench Emanating From My Vagina)

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Snake Oil - TuneCore 2006
Rating = 6

This is a compilation of cover tunes recorded between 1998 and 2003. Here's what's on it:

From 1998 All My Ghosts CD-single: Bob Dylan's "Changing Of The Guards"

From 1998 Dog Gone CD-single: Toni Fisher's "The Big Hurt," The Specials' "Do Nothing" and Bruce Springsteen's "Goin' Down"

From 2000 Nadine CD-single: "Snake Oil." Not sure who it's originally by.

From 2001 St. Francis Dam Disaster cd-single: Donovan's arrangement of traditional song "Sleep"

2002 Devil's Workshop outtake: Angst's "Somethings I Can't Get Used To"

From 2003 Everything Is New CD-Single: Rolling Stones' "Down In The Hole" and Reid Paley Trio's "Take What You Want"

Previously unreleased: Bob Dylan's arrangement of traditional song "Belle Isle"

As I've stated hundreds of thousands of times, the quality of a covers album depends not on the chosen material, but on whether or not I personally like the chosen material. In this case, I'm all like "WTF!? 'Take What You Want' and 'Belle Isle' are so generic, I could've written them in the womb! And I suppose it's funny that you performed 'Deep In The Hole' with an acoustic guitar and vocal falsetto, but it's still one of the worst songs in the Rolling Stones catalog. Great buckin' call on the Angst song though! Did you see the Video Review I did of that album a couple months ago? I mentioned you in it! You did an awesome job playing 'Goin' Down' Pixies style too. And triple huzzahs for replacing Dylan's terrible black female vocalists with Catholics in the now excellent 'Changing of the Guard'! Can't complain about the Toni Fisher or Donovan songs either. In short, great job! (when you weren't doing a shitty job, which was 40% of the time)"

You know, lots of people come up to me often and say, "Hey Mark, my shitty production company just made a horror movie and we can't think of a name for it. Can you give us any good ideas?" Of course I can! Here is a list of horror movie titles just ripe for your picking, my treat:

Bunion!
Killer Twig
Big Ol' Scary Guy
New Weezer Album
The Ghastly Ghastle
The Amityville Penis
Maniac Pat of Butter
Ahh! My Arm Fell Off!
Belly Button Of Terror
The Haunted WWII Veteran
On Golden Pond OF DEATH
The Boise Washcloth Massacre
Curse of the Monthly Bloody Gash
Evil They Might Be Giants Concert
Vampire Made Of Garlic And Crosses
The Wicked Witch of the Dunkin' Donuts Franchise
American Flag With An Extra Stripe On It That Kills People
Poltergeist Four: Dominique Dunne, Julian Beck, Will Sampson and Heather O'Rourke Are The Poltergeist Four!

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Frank Black Francis - spinART 2004
Rating = 8

Fank Francis, the former lead singer of the Pixies, has finally proudly embraced his past and the Pixies are touring again. Everybody's really excited about it. It's a good thing my ceilings are 35 feet big because I can't stop jumping up and down, punching my fist and going, "Yeah." Also, I can't walk anymore; I can only skip about like a female child because I'm so happy about it, and excited. One time I thought I wasn't all that excited about it, but then I realized my hand was in a boiling pot of water. Once I removed it and wrapped it up in bandages, I was all excited again. Because it's exciting. A guy who wrote all of the songs for a band getting back together to play some concerts with the other people in the band -- the ones who didn't write any songs for the band and just played exactly what he told them to -- man, that's some exciting stuff. I've literally had to install an oversized drinking straw between my mouth and the tip of my penis to make sure I don't cause local flooding every time I think about it. That's how exciting it all very is.

To celebrate this non-event, Frank has issued a double-disc of Pixies classix done FARNK style! The impetus was thus: The day before the Picksys went into the studio with Big Black's Steve Albini to record the Come On A Pilgrim EP, Frank recorded a demo of 15 songs performed by he and he alone on his acoustic guitar. Years later, a record company expressed interest in releasing this age-old document of young talent and girth. Frank agreed, but feared that his fans might flip a bird upon paying $18 for 35 minutes of old demos. As such, he got together with his friends Two Pale Boys (who often record albums with David Thomas of Pere Ubu fame, I've been led to believe) and recorded a second disc of RADICALLY reworked Pixies songs. And I do mean RADICALLY reworked. The closest comparison I can think of would be a Pixies tribute album recorded by The Residents back when they were good. It's THAT strangely great. The first disc is really good too (you know the songs - they're wonderful little songs!), but disc two is what makes the project a must-own for any fan of Black Francis's legendary Posies.

Regardless, I'll begin by discussing the first disc, if only to get your excitement level way up. Think of this paragraph as the Benson to the next paragraph's Mr. Belvedere; sure, it's GOOD and all, but you can't hardly wait until 8:30 rolls around and the fat gay man takes over the TV, right? Am I right? I'm right, aren't I? Am I! Right? I am! Therefore, my second paragraph will ignore the Frank Black disc completely and just discuss fat gay men for 25 minutes.

The sound quality of disc one is oodles better than you'd expect, and it's fun to hear Frank sing the lead guitar lines over his rhythm strumming (like "bow-bow-bow!" during the intro to "I'm Amazed") and make verbal notes about how the songs are supposed to sound (he introduces "Oh My Golly" with "It's a Caribbean beat that goes like 'kah-kah-kah-kah-kah" like that," and before "Caribou," I could swear he says "This is the one I wanted to sound like Husker Du." !!!). However, the Mexican punkers don't work so well without drums because you can't tell they're supposed to be fast. Instead they just sound like simplistic three-chord mariachi songs (especially "Isla De Encanta," which comes across as a slow metal song with a shitty riff). Fans of the rare will appreciate another early version of "Subbacultcha," along with the non-album tracks "Rock A My Soul" (a lifeless stinker), "Build High" (fun!) and "Boom Chickaboom" (slow, Spanishy, okay). On its own, I'd give disc one an 8. Frank really puts everything into his performance, and most of the tunes are as catchy as a long day. "Caribou" in particular is just gorgeous, isn't it?

No no, not the song. I mean an actual caribou. Isn't it gorgeous? Don't you wanna FUCK IT??!?!?

Disc two is brilliant - all full of bizarre electronic noises, trumpets and wrongness. Offhand, I can't think of any other artist who has ever reworked his material in such an astonishingly creative manner, and I know you're shaking your head and muttering "What about the reggae version of 'Layla?,'" but wait til you hear what these guys DO with the songs you've known and loved for so many years! Let me try to paint a portrait in words:

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EYE.........EYE

N
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S E
M.................H
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U

(*searches apartment for bag of missing wit*)

Disc two standouts include:

- "Cactus" played with the DOMINANT chords instead of the TONIC ones. You play guitar, right? Sure! We ALL do! Go play "Cactus" on the dominant chords that correspond to the tonic chords of the original! Bizarre, isn't it? Not just that, but sad and illegal!

- "Nimrod's Son' as a playfully Nazi-esque oompah march! Who doesn't love a playful Nazi? Remember Mengele? Jeff Hanneman LOVED that guy!

- "Levitate Me" played on queasy off-key bell tones for verse, cute baby-like bell chimes for bridge, and jolly horns and guitar for chorus. It's "Bell-u-riffic"!

- "The Holiday Song" - the BEST. An ADORABLE Herb Albert-style trumpet/tuba cha-cha version, with crazy psych delay loops keeping things real. You'll feel like Esquivel and Os Mutantes dressed up in a taco costume together while high on cocaine!

- "Subbacultcha" built upon grunting cacaphony, eerie violins, bells, bongos, horns and satisfaction. Imagine Tom Waits doing something different for a fucking change!

- "Planet of Sound" as a 15-minute hypnotizing-as-a-swinging-watch two-chord acoustic strummer that falls apart, back together and apart once more as Frank recites each line twenty times apiece and the Pale Boys run his guitar through different effects.

Curious? Intrigued? Buy it! Who knew Two Pale Boys were so clever and unique? The David Thomas connection naturally led me to assume that they were no fucking good at all, but I'll be good and goddamned! The only ones that kinda don't work (though they're okay) are "Where is My Mind" built upon electronic bloops and ugly noises that are a bit TOOOO random, a slow regal "Velouria" that's lovely but just drags on a bit too long, and a version of "Is She Weird" that replaces the catchy verse hook with an Enoey one-note drone. Still, those are small complaints. Disc 2 gets a 9. Put the 8 and 9 together and "Whala!" You get an 8!

That's what I told my first grade math students, at any rate. Incidentally, does anyone know what this "+" sign is supposed to be for? I told them it was a photo of Jesus and Abraham Lincoln penis-wrestling.

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Honeycomb - Backporch 2005
Rating = 6

As this will probably soon be posted on a Frank Black messageboard that will then malign me and harm my feelings, let me preface this by saying "EAT SHTI, FRANK BLACK MESSAGEBOARD."

Okay, now that you've eaten yourself in Persian present continuous tense, let's talk about this crappy boring new shit Frank ass Black lousy boring album. If not even Steve Cropper can save your album, it's time to write a new album. But at least it's different for Mr. Black. Oh yes, different. Usually Frank Black doesn't sound like an early '70s singer-songwriter. Usually his songs don't sound like Joni Mitchell with a mustache. Usually they have interesting changes and breaks, rather than coasting lazily by on the strains of a Hammond organ, bland chord changes and r'n'b lead guitar licks. I'm not knocking the guy; I'm just saying he SUCKS DICK.

Okay, he doesn't really suck dick. I'm just feeling ornery after reading all these articles about people being forced to evacuate New Orleans but being told they have to leave their pets behind. There is NO FUCKING WAY I would leave Henry The Dog behind, nor would my wife (as we discussed this morning). We would either sneak out and live or die on our own - AS A PACK - or hide in a closet 'til the G-Men leave. But no goddamned way would we leave Henry The Dog behind. He's arguably the most important member of our family! At very least, the fuzziest. So now that I've addressed the actual issue that's upsetting me, rather than blaming it on the former lead singer of the Pixies, I'll address Honeycomb on more solid ground and even keel.

When Frank Black took a break from forcing citizens to leave their homes as heartbroken pets howled in terror from behind closed doors, he invited former Blues Brother Steve Cropper to lay down some tasty licks atop a collection of Memphisy early '70s laidback wine cooler music that he'd written free of Catholicism. (His former backing band was named The Catholics. That's all I mean.) (And he thinks the new Pope is an assfucker) The music combines a number of possible genres and influences (r'n'b, soul, blues, country, folk, jazz, singer-songwriter balladry) into a "heady brew" of "musical stew" that sounds completely unlike any previous Frank Black output, while at the same time managing to be not at all innovative or catchy.

There are the few nifty occasions when he'll reach into his back brain pocket and dig out a super-bizarre chord combination reminiscent of "Alec Eiffel" ("Lone Child," the first half of "My Life Is In Storage"), but most of the melodies just aren't compelling at all. They're too laidback and lazy to be catchy. I suppose it would make for decent sitting on the porch music, but I'm just not used to hearing Frank Black sound so damned MELLOW! His singing voice, I mean. He sounds like he's half-asleep in a rocking chair as he sings these songs - he certainly doesn't bring any energy to the proceedings, making even the fast songs sound like they're about to lay down for a nap.

Essentially, when you get right down to it, this folk-country-jazz-soul-r'n'b-hippy-boring hybrid just isn't to my taste. It's the kind of record we've been hearing from Tori Amos and PJ Harvey lately: this "satisfied with life, don't need to bother coming up with a hook" post-'60s blandness that should have died with James Taylor's career. I'm all for Steve Cropper, believe me this. I enjoy that man. But there's nothing he can do when set against music this overwhelmingly bland.

So UP YOUR ASS, FRANK BLACK MESSAGEBOARD!!!

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I'm serious. Raise the importance of your pet donkey in your life. Don't leave it crying alone in New Orleans.

Add your thoughts?


Fast Man Raider Man - Back Porch 2006
Rating = 5

Yeah, more like FAT Man REFRIGERATOR Man, if you ask me!!!!!

Leading news sources reported in early July that "Pixies frontman Frank Black had tried to write new tracks for the band since they reformed for live appearances two years ago, but he was forced to ditch his efforts when he and bassist Kim Deal quickly realised the songs were a pale imitation of their 1980s cult classics."

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Fast Man Raider Man.

Frank Black can no longer write Pixies songs because he is no longer capable of (or interested in) coming up with musical hooks. Instead, he is comfortable churning out relaxed, rootsy country-rock with more cliches than ideas, more guest musicians than personal contribution, and more pianos and acoustic guitars than a 1975 singer-songwriter album. At twice the length of the already-weak Honeycomb, this double-CD is yet another nail in the coffin of his once-sterling reputation (see also: Paul Westerberg, Bob Mould). Its truly great songs can be counted on one 6-fingered hand, and its final 1/3rd represents the absolute nadir of Frank Black's entire 20-year career. More specifically, six of the final eight songs bring absolutely ZERO new ideas to music and have, as far as I can tell, no reason to exist other than giving the band a chance to jam on a few more standard country-folk chord sequences before going home to their fat and psychopathic wives, who thrash them within inches of their lives. Oooo-ooo-ooo. Aaah-aaa-aaa. (repeat 2x) Aaaah! Aaaa - EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

We don't need no Frank Black album
We don't need no country-folk
No light chord changes on pianos
Pixie, where'd your talent go?
HEY! PIXIE! WHERE'D YOUR TALENT GO?
All in all it's just a...
nother disc in the stall (toilet)
All in all it's just a...
nother nick on my ball, I don't know.

(*a bunch of little kids repeat the verse, followed by a guitar solo*)

NO, DO IT AGAIN! NO, DO IT AGAIN!

IF YOU DON'T WRITE ANY SONGS, YOU CAN'T MAKE ANY ALBUMS! HOW CAN YOU MAKE ANY ALBUMS IF YOU DON'T WRITE ANY SONGS?

YOU! YES, YOU! (etc)

Probably the best way to describe this album, aside from using the phrase "laidback, melodically derivative piano/electric piano-driven Americana music (with guitar solos) incorporating elements of rock, country, folk, blues, gospel, soul and jazz," is to take a closer look at the musicians who helped Frank unleash his current vision. As you'll see, it's not exactly a smorgasbord of modern "hip to the times" alternative rock visionaries. Plus, as legendary (and OLD) as some of these players are, almost all of them are musically limited by Frank's tepid, uncompelling material. I'm sorry, but the greatest saxophone solo in history is not going to save a song with no hook. So here's the list -- put all these names together in your head, and that is EXACTLY what this record sounds like:

-- Bob Babbitt (bass) - from the Funk Brothers, described by All-Music Guide as "the brilliant but anonymous studio band responsible for the instrumental backing on countless Motown records from 1959 up to the company's move to Los Angeles in 1972."
-- Bobby Bare Jr. (backing vocals) - leader of roots-rock band Bare Jr. and son of '70s country music star David Lee Roth
-- Billy Block (drums) - Had a bit part as 'prom band member' in the 1991 motion picture Book Of Love. Still awaiting his second big break.
-- Marty Brown (bass, vocals) - '90s hillbilly country singer with four albums to his name
-- Violet Clark-Thompson (backing vocals) - Frank's wife
-- Jack Clement (dobro) - Legendary Nashville record producer; has worked with Johnny Cash and Charley Pride, as well as U2's top-selling Rattle And Hum novelty record.
-- Steve Cropper (guitar) - Booker T. and the MG's. Played on Frank's last album too, as I mentioned about 1500 times in my review.
-- Rick Duvall (backing vocals) - Lead vocalist of alternative rock band Ballista, unless that's some other Rick Duvall
-- Steve Ferrone (drums) - From the Average White Band. Perfect match, isn't it - the Pixies and the Average White Band? Good work on that one, Frank.
-- Rich Gilbert (pedal steel guitar) - From Human Sexual Response, Goober & The Peas, and Blackstone Valley Sinners. Perhaps the only musician alive to have played in three different bands with names as terrible as "Human Sexual Response," "Goober & The Peas" and "Blackstone Valley Sinners."
-- James Griffin (backing vocals) - This guy was in fucking BREAD. You tell me Frank Black's still a relevant songwriter, and I'll play you a little song called "Baby I'm-A Want You."
-- Levon Helm (drums) - From The Band. I'll refrain from commenting on him, other than to say that The Band is one of the worst rock groups in the history of the genre.
-- David Hood (bass) - Member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, famed session musician. Played on a few Traffic albums long after the world had ceased buying Traffic albums.
-- Ellis Hooks (backing vocals) - Modern soul singer who's apparently really good, but I haven't heard any of his records just yet. Have you? If not, are they good?
-- Wayne Jackson (trumpet, trombone, fluegelhorn) - Member of Stax Records' Memphis Horns and the Mar-Keys (Steve Cropper's first band!). No clue what he's been up to for the past 25 years.
-- Duane Jarvis (guitar) - Modern roots-rock artist, I'm told. Not a subgenre I frequent by trade.
-- Mark Jordan (keyboards) - Has worked with Van Morrison, Jackson Browne and Edgar Winter. All at the same time in a crazy Kiss The Blarney Stone Singer-Songwriter Albino Explosion!!!
-- Carol Kaye (bass, guitar) - In a career dating back to 1949, Ms. Kaye has played alongside every single musician and singer since the dawn of time.
-- Jim Keltner (drums) - Session drummer extraordinaire; member of Little Village. (*vomits three weeks' worth of caloric intake upon being reminded of the band Little Village*)
-- Simon Kirke (drums) - Bad Company. Rules.
-- Jack Kidney (harmonica, tenor saxophone) - From long-running blues-rock combo The Numbers Band. Hilariously named "Jack Kidney," like a little cartoon kidney bean running around, playing the harmonica.
-- Al Kooper (organ) - Played on Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone." Went on to The Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
-- Ian McLagan (keyboards) - From The Small Faces, The Faces, The, and .
-- Buddy Miller (guitar, mandoguitar) - Modern country-folk-rock guy whose music probably sounds similar to this album.
-- Spooner Oldham (keyboards) - From AMG: "As an integral part of the Memphis/Muscle Shoals studio bands of the late '60s, organist Spooner Oldham made a definite mark on the sound of soul music." In other words, OLD OLD OLD AS SHIT.
-- Tom Petersson (bass) - From Cheap Trick! Their new album actually has a lot of good songs on it! Which is nice because their last album was vomitous!
-- Dave Philips (pedal steel guitar) - Former member of Frank Black and the Catholics. Remember them? They were good!
-- P.F. Sloan (piano) - Author of some of the greatest folk-rock tunes of all time. Unfortunately, none of them appear on this record.
-- Billy Swan (backing vocals) - Apparently had a hit single in 1974, when Frank Blank was 8 years old. A proposed collaboration at the time was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts.
-- Planet Swan (backing vocals) - Billy's daughter.
-- Sierra Swan (backing vocals) - Planet's sister.
-- Akil Thompson (drums) - Young session musician; has played with Kelly Clarkson and Nick Carter.
-- Chester Thompson (drums) - Akil's father; has played with Frank Zappa and Genesis. Yeah, I know! "Who?" That's what I said! Heh heh, yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah Bo Bice rules
-- Jon Tiven (alto saxophone, guitar, piano) - From obscure mid-70s power pop band Prix. He also produced the CD. Hey! Maybe they should have credited this album to "The Prixies"! Ha ha! YEAH! WHEEEEEE!
-- Brooks Watson (backing vocals) - I don't know. Probably some asshole. You hear that? FUCK YOU, guy I've never heard of!!! Up your ASS!!!!
-- Lyle Workman (guitar) - Fusion artist who once worked with Todd Rundgren. Probably fucked his wife too, like everybody else did, the whore.
-- Reggie Young (guitar) - Born in 1936.

Is this really the legacy that Frank Black wants? To just release album after album of rickety old men performing every mediocre song that pops into his head until he has a gigantic discography of inoffensive, middle-of-the-road CDs that nobody wants to hear? (see also: Van Morrison, John Mellencamp) Well, more power to him, I guess. Everybody has to make a living, even if it SUCKS.

Having said all that, "Johnny Barleycorn" is a great mean rocker that could easily pass for late-period Pixies, and "In The Time Of My Ruin" is a warm, melodic ball of energy that could pass for ANY-era Pixies. A few other moments of genuine inspiration shine through the soundalike din (especially the intrigue-laden jazz/folk hybrid "If Your Poison Gets You," coolly menacing "Seven Days" and strangely-arranged slow piano thing-->New Orleans slop sleaze-->creepy 5/4-time organ piece "Dog Sleep"), but most of it is background music for a lemonade-drinking old man.

Also, Frank Black is 4,000 years old now and weighs like a hundred million pounds.

Reader Comments

jeffoneonone@hotmail.com
I think I'm just going to try to forget that you called The Band "the worst band in the history of the genre" and go back to laughing at your David Bowie reviews.

steve.robey@mindspring.com
(faint sound of ringing over phone receiver)
(person sighs)

Francis do you think you dropped the ball
Francis did you mine the toilet stall
Francis do you think I give a crap at all
Oooh... ah... Francis you have got some gall

Francis should I buy this piece of shit
Francis should I wipe my ass with it
Francis will the hooks be ever back in your work
Oooh... ah... Francis why you such a dork

Hush my former fan, now don't you cry
Frank is gonna reclaim his glory for you
Frank's gonna aim for your heart straight and true
Frank is gonna wait until you come a round
Frank's gonna run this thing into the ground
Frank's gonna keep churning ballads and cheese
Oooh babe.... Oooh babe
Ooobe babe, of course Frank's gonna make more of these

(*emotional guitar solo*)
(Second verse abandoned)

OK, I've never even heard this album, so it's a tad unfair for me to jump on the bandwagon trashing it, but I enjoyed your reviewing concept this time around so I felt like picking up where you left off. Truth be told though, no Frank Black album has quite grabbed my attention like the first two, a few great songs notwithstanding.

killthebodyandtheheadwilldie@hotmail.com (Kevin Mannion)
Interest in Mr. Black's solo work seems to have dipped, judging by the lack of reader comments on his last couple of records. But with blandness like 'Fastman/Raiderman, this isn't surprising. There's a few good tracks: "Johnny Barleycorn, "Raiderman" (a much better live version is on his 'Chirstmass' album though), and, uh, three or four more across the two discs. He really should have pared this down to 10 or 11 songs. 27 tracks on this thing, and most of them are your boring alt country more suited to Wilco and Son Volt than a guy as talented as this. However, I assume that you've heard something about his new album, Mark? He's gone back to calling himself Black Francis and supposedly the songs will be abandoning the boring country drudgery (he did the country/folk thing much better on the earlier Catholics albums) in favour of some old school Black Francis screaming and weirdness. I'm not sure how it'll turn out, but I'll wager it's a lot better than the travesty that is Disc 2 of 'Fastman Raiderman".

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Christmass - Cooking Vinyl 2006
Rating = 7

UPDATE: The following review has the unpleasant distinction of being the most controversial critique on my entire site. I have received more angry emails about my (admittedly opinionated) review of Frank Black's Christmass than about any other review on my site. And I think this says something interesting -- not only about how different people have varying emotional reactions to the same musical content, but also about how vehemently certain fans (short for 'fanatics,' remember) react to a perceived attack on their favorite artist. So I'd like to clear a few things up here, if I might.

First of all, when I referred to the mostly-live, all-acoustic Christmass CD/DVD double-disc as 'pretty good,' I in no way meant it as a slight against the songwriting talent of Frank Black/Black Francis/Charles Thompson. Maybe I should have gone into more specific detail about how much I appreciate the diversity of his song choice -- who would have expected him to open his net as wide as 5 Pixies songs, 4 Honeycomb, 3 Show Me Your Tears, 2 Frank Black, and 1 each from Teenager of the Year, Frank Black and the Catholics, Dog in the Sand, Black Letter Days, Devil's Workshop, and Fast Man Raider Man -- not to mention 1 b-side, 1 unreleased Honeycomb outtake and a full SEVEN brand new songs?! I mean, sure he fucked us on Pistolero and The Cult of Ray, but I'm not going to dwell on that sore spot at the moment. There's plenty of time for that later on, after cooler heads have prevailed.

Secondly, I really don't get this whole bit about me being "sacreligious" and "purposely offensive" in my review. As anybody who has ever visited my site before knows, I don't get my opinions from Rolling Stone. I don't let MTV tell me what albums I'm supposed to like. If I put forth an unpopular argument about a well-liked record, it is not a calculated attempt to OFFEND THE WORLD; it's simply an opposing viewpoint. We all have our own musical interests, and mine just happen to gravitate more towards Frank Black's hookier, idiosyncratic 80's-90's output than his recent, more traditional songwriting approach. Having said that, it's promising to note that the new tracks debuted here do harken back to his quirkier Pixies writing style. In particular, "(Do What You Want) Gyaneshwar" is an excellently moody Spanish 'repeat-after-3-beats-instead-of-4' throwback, "Don't Get Me Wrong" is an unexpectedly nostalgic '50sy turn, and the wonderful a capella "Radio Lizards" features a complete CHOIR of overdubbed lead and backing vocals in one of the greatest ideas and most aurally compelling recordings Frank's come up with in the past decade! Best of all, all of these new songs are credited to 'Black Francis.' Could it be comeback time?

Thirdly, one phrase that keeps popping up again and again in the angry responses to my original Christmass review is "Do you honestly think this is funny?" And the answer is that yes, I do! I can't understand why Frank Black fans, obviously aware of the humor inherent in his Pixies and early solo work, can fail to see the hilarity of some of the material on this disc. His stage patter in particular is witty as all hell! Are we supposed to be stone-faced serious when he screws up a chord change in "Los Angeles" and ends the song dead with a self-deprecating, "Oh, see? I've been playing the song since 1992 and I messed it up last night, first song.... And I thought I'd get my revenge tonight...." Even better is when the crowd applauds this sharp banter and he adds, "Don't applaud! This is an occasion for hissing!" Or how about when he plays the first few chords of "Where Is My Mind?," the crowd goes wild, and he abruptly switches to some unrelated chords, says "What? I'm just workin' on some new stuff I'm trying out tonight," and NEVER MENTIONS THE SONG AGAIN. And are you trying to tell me that we're supposed to sit and soberly nod as he spends five minutes trying to convince the crowd "I can't hear you!" when they all keep yelling out song titles at him? He's a very witty man - much quicker than I've ever given him credit for. So lighten up, you gloomy gusses. The world isn't all death and destruction.

Finally, I must take exception to the number of reader commenters who have called my original review 'prejudiced' and 'mean-spirited.' I go into each new release with no expectations; if I were prejudiced against Frank Black, why would I have given high grades to the first 80% of his output!? It's only in the past five years or so that his music has taken a turn for the ordinary, and that's no guarantee that he is going to continue in that direction ANYWAY. I always hope for a great album from him, and won't be surprised when another one pops up - especially considering he puts one out about every four days. As for 'mean-spirited,' I'm sure he's heard worse. Sometimes I do go a bit over-the-top when I feel 'let down' by a former favorite artist, but at least I'm being HONEST about my emotions (as I felt them at the time of writing) and not just writing like a stick in the mud with no soul.

Hopefully this addendum has helped to clear up a few issues and calm some of the residual anger, because I really did not intend to piss anybody off by simply putting forth my own personal opinion of this perfectly enjoyable Frank Black release. Here's the original review that attracted so much hatemail:

This album's pretty good, but not as good as the time me and Jesus Christ gang-raped a jig.

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Bluefinger - Cooking Vinyl 2007
Rating = 8

But I certainly did curse out that old man the other day, didn't I? Yes, in the past I've been a timid street argument-getter-into, only spouting my angry venom at women and AIDS people, but check out the GUTS I'm growing now! I cussed out a hunched-over 95-year-old man!

It was his fault though. Henry The Dog politely urinated on an empty newspaper box, and the old man doddered on over to me, interrupted a conversation I was having with a fellow dog owner, and said, "You really should curb your dog!" And this is fine; I have no qualms with his argument. The problem is that Henry is a very tall dog so he'd have to lift his leg from the middle of the street to actually hit the curb with his golden stream of communication. I tried to explain this to the old man: "Well, he lifts his leg -" but he cut me off with a pointy finger and rude "He lifts his leg where YOU LET HIM lift his leg!" I continued, politely, as I felt calm and polite at this time, "No, I mean he lifts his leg really high, so if I try to curb him, the pee goes all over the car parked there."

This is where things took a turn for the cursey. I don't remember what he said - and in fact couldn't remember it 30 seconds after he said it - but he insulted me. It was an insult that snapped into my reptile brain and IMMEDIATELY pissed me off irreconcilably. Maybe he called me an idiot? Or a stupid asshole? Whatever it was, it really angered me, so as he walked away, I loudly asked, "Well, where's he SUPPOSED to go, you fuckin' prick?" He turned around to look at me and I whopped him another zinger, "You fuckin' piece of shit!" He doddered on back to me, pointed to the curb and shouted, "ON THE CURB!" I again tried to explain my case, "He lifts his leg too high and pees all over the sidewalk!" But he walked away, muttering "Talking to you is like talking to...." In a witty turn of events, Henry The Dog decided he wanted to go home at that moment, which happened to be the exact direction in which the old man was doddering. So I was able to stalk him menacingly as I responded, "Then maybe you shouldn't be talking to people!" He then crossed the street to get away from me and my gigantic muscles.

So if a hunched-over dying old man is ever bullying you in the playground, you know whom to call! (Mark "Guts Of Iron" Prindle)

There was Jack Schidt of a reason for Charles Thompson to reclaim his old Pixies fake-name on this album, but there it is for all the world to ponder: Bluefinger by "Black Francis." After listening to it, it's pretty clear what he means -- "this isn't the stodgy old roots rock you've grown accustomed to hearing on Frank Black albums; this is catchy, creative pop-rock like Black Francis used to write!" But this completely ignores the fact that seven of the first eight Frank Black albums were full-to-bustin' with just this sort of catchy, creative pop-rock! There was no need for him to re-become "Black Francis"; he could've simply called himself "Frank Black (But The Old Good One, Not The New Boring One)." Or at least come up with a NEW variation, like "Frankie Blax" or "Blackie Francesca, The Gay Coffeemaker." Come on, use your brain asshole.

Bluefinger doesn't sound like The Pixies, but it sounds like Charles Thompson actually writing music again, rather than just letting the history of American songwriting collect in his mouth and dribble out all over his poor bored fans. Mr. Thompson plays every bit of guitar, harmonica and keyboard on this album, assisted only by a rhythm section and a couple of background vocalists. The songs encompass a delightful mixture of catchiness, invention, simplicity, beauty, time changes, energy and a genuine sense of fun, with only one or two roots-rock piles of dung pissing up the wheelbarrow. They also feature the most female vocals of any Frank Black record (and possibly any Pixies record!), with his lovely-voiced wife playing the co-singing role formerly occupied by Kim Deal of The Breeders.

Let me be a bit more specific here, since this isn't an album on which everything sounds the same:
- Uptempo Energetic Punky Catchy ROCK!!! "Captain Pasty," "Tight Black Rubber" and "You Can't Break A Heart And Have It"
- Simple Chord Changes Bolstered By Clever Arrangements - "Threshold Apprehension" and "Your Mouth Into Mine"
- Strange Chord Progressions Like Frank Black Has Been Known To Employ - "Lolita"
- Old-timey Spy Jazz Walking Bass - "Test Pilot Blues"
- Bubblegum Folk-pop - "She Took All The Money"
- Aural Heaven Of Beauty - "Angels Come To Comfort You"
- The Kind Of Shit That Made The Last Few Frank Black Albums Suck WingWong - "Discotheque 36" and "Bluefinger"

Some of the guitars are rockin'ly distorted, others only lightly distorted, still others even clean or acoustic. But he's double- and triple-tracked them; this wasn't recorded emptily live by any means. The drums are crisp, the bass bottomly, the keyboards hardly noticeable even when they're around. A few more specifics:
- The first three chords of "Lolita" are from "Motorway To Roswell" but it totally veers off after that, so try not to get hung up on it like I did the first couple listens.
- In "Test Pilot Blues," he for some reason says "I love this part" during a particularly boring part.
- In "Threshold Apprehension," he screams in a falsetto that hardly helps anything
- "Tight Black Rubber" includes the lyric "Mary had a little lamb/Its shit was white as snow." "Angels Come To Comfort You" includes the lyric "He played piano really fuckin' good." What's with the cursing, Charles Thompson?

Cynics would argue that he's regressing here, playing a style of music that doesn't really interest him anymore just to try and save his flagging career. But cynics can row out into the ocean and suck on a dinghy because, like charity, it's not the motive that counts - it's the result. Besides, I highly doubt that a roots-rock purist could have produced (basically on his own) an idiosyncratic, high-spirited and melodic rock/pop album, yet this is Frank Francis's most memorable work in at least half a decade. And I realize that for U2, that would mean "since their last album," but this guy puts something out every five minutes so I'm actually saying something.

And that something is "Aaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"

Best,
Henry "The Fonz" Winkler

P.S. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"

P.P.S. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"

Reader Comments

amoy3r@gmail.com
PEOPLE, STOP GIVING MARK SHIT, I AM HIS ONLY BLACK FAN AND I THINK IT'S HILARIOUS HIM AND JESUS RAPED A NIGGER

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Svn Fngrs EP - Cooking Vinyl 2008
Rating = 7

I was jurkin' off all over Nell Carter's corpse the other day when I no hang on that's not

I was praying to Jesus Christ in church the other day when I suddenly realized, "Hay it's been almost 10 days since Frank Black Francis' last album came out. Surely he has a new one by now." Lo and behold, he did. And it was short. So short in fact that he had to remove several letters from the title.

Svn Fngrs (short for "Sven Fartnegros") features 7 new Black Francis compositions in a mere 20 minutes of American time (it's a bit longer in Europe, what with the PAL CD format). The new tracks retain the playful and creative spirit of last year's Pixies-reunion-inspired Bluefinger, with Fran(k)cis enjoying his higher register while again backed only by a tiny rhythm section. Some might argue that he takes the playfulness a bit TOO far on the spastic wiggly ridiculous guitar-thwapping Beck-rapping harp-bleating 'stinky feet'-ing lead-off track "The Seus," but once you get past that it's smoooooooooth sailing.

That just inspired in my mind an interesting point. Not about sailing, sadly, but about this album. Although the steady driving quiet-loud Spanishy/surfy "Garbage Heap" joins The Breeders' "Walk It Off" as the most Pixies-like song recorded since 1991, most of the other tracks here find Charles "Chas" Thompson combining his usual oddball chord changes with unexpected outside influences. "The Seus" really does sound a lot like an early Beck track -- but fused with the songwriting preferences of Black Francis. Similarly, Francis ignites the wonderfully melodic "Half Man" by strumming its chords on a warm, ringing electric guitar that sounds just like the mid-'60s Beatles. "When They Come To Murder Me" continues the trend, merging his quirky pop hook with a tough foundation of solid '70s hard rock. Even a song as traditional-sounding as the title track ultimately comes across as 'Black Francis Meets Sea Shanty.' This willingness to approach his music in new and unique ways is a very encouraging sign for the future of Charles Thompson. With any luck, we'll never hear the likes of Fast Man Boring And Depressingly Predictable Man again!

Not every songwriting decision agrees with my stomach -- the sea shanty is a bit too similar to latter-day Frank Black, the Pixies-y "Tale of Lonesome Fetter" loses its power by dragging on for two useless messy minutes after it should have ended, and the punky goof "I Sent Away" is fun for one listen but more of a lyrical gag than a song. Still, if you liked his last CD, you're most likely going to enjoy this one as well. He's got the voice, the hooks, the guitar, the humor, the (etc), and the yeah!

I'm short on time so instead of making up what would've undoubtedly been a fantastic bunch of Black Francis knock-knock jokes, I'm going to share with you a MySpace bulletin that I posted while intoxicated on an inebriating beverage last night. Now, FINALLY, you'll know the real me.

Title: So very very drunk

1. It's healthy to jam a toothbrush down my throat three times after every time I get drunk, right? That's good for you, right? I asked Gilda Radner and she said "Keep it up."

2. Sarcastic people can go fuck a lightbulb. Honesty and not being an asshole is where it's at in '08.

3. Angels Of Light are happy-go-lucky pussies compared to the Swans. What happened?

4. Akron/Family are excellent. But whoever recommended Aesop Rock should stick their head in a bucket of sperm. That stuff is terrible.

5. The new Frank Black EP is good but not great. The new Neil Hamburger CD is great but not good.

6. I'm 34 years old, and I'd rather shove my entire body into a blender than relive a single year of my life. They say "youth is wasted on the young" and they're fucking right. All I did when I was young was worry all the time and be a self-righteous piece of shit.

7. Not all soft porn movies from 1969 are Academy Award Winners. For example, I had a very difficult time staying awake during "Take Them As They Are" tonight. Even during the part where the one guy pretended to lick the you-know-what of the one woman!

8. I was surprised and upset that David Yow didn't answer the 'music survey' I sent around. I didn't write it, but I thought he answered EVERY survey. This can only mean that he and everybody else in the world hates me.

9. I feel so bad for Knut The Formerly Adorable Baby Bear. He is so lonely now that his trainers can't play with him! He is literally howling all the time and not understanding why people don't come to visit him anymore. My wife and I are planning to visit him in May, but now I'm afraid he'll commit Bear Suicide before then! If you're based in Germany, PLEASE GO VISIT HIM! He was raised wrong and now he's all fucked up!

10. I'm glad my parents didn't name me "Urine Sample"

Reader Comments

3dsunglasses@gmail.com
AKRON/FAMILY IS COOL BUT THEIR NEW ALBUM IS FUCKING TERRIBLE

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The Golem (double CD) - Self-released 2010
Rating = 6

The Golem (single CD) - The Bureau 2010
Rating = 7

As you know, I've seen hundreds of thousands of silent horror films in my day, including:

Begotten
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages
Nosferatu
The Phantom of the Opera

However, out of the hundreds and thousands I've seen, I must admit that I've yet to feast my eyes upon The Golem: How He Came Into The World -- which is weird because I love Jews more than Jews love money. HAR HAR ROLL OUT THE B

Actually, that reminds me of a point I wanted to make: you know that whole stereotype about Jews loving money? Well, everybody in Israel is poor as SHIT! So maybe these so-called Jews who love money aren't REAL Jews at all, but FAKE Jews trying to make you THINK they're real Jews by saying "Oy!" and wearing a yarmulke I don't know never mind.

So somebody asked Black Francis to do a soundtrack for The Golem and blah blah blah. I'm not a background reviewer; let's get to the music.

It's good!

Although The Golem does feature some straightforward Black Francis guitar pop-rock, it also finds him experimenting with both dark moody instrumentals and unfamiliar (in his oevre) instruments like saxophone, flute, mellotron and harpsichord. In fact, in places it's musically reminiscent of Tom Waits! Not the crashy jangly stuff, but the jazzy barroom feel. The full-fledged songs are mostly quite good, displaying the unique melodicism we've come to expect from the talented Mr. Thompson. The main reason for the relatively low number grades I've awarded here is that -- being a movie soundtrack -- The Golem reuses several musical motifs over and over and over again. And sure, they're great the first time you hear them but jesus fuck a dying man on the cross -- two different songs with 'previews'!? SIX songs with 'reprises'!? FOUR versions of "Miriam and Florian Theme"? FIVE versions of "Golem's Theme"? Maybe it goes great with the movie, but so does my dick and you don't see me putting five copies of that on an album. In your WIFE sure, but not on an album.

You'd think that the chopped-down single disc version would be just what an actual doctor literally ordered, but even it gets repetitive after a while with its multiple 'themes' and 'reprises.' Still, any Black Francis fan would be a fool for the city to not order him or hisself a copy. This may be a soundtrack, but -- particularly in the single disc version -- it plays like a normal studio album, with something like 15 full vocals-and-music songs between the shorter instrumentals.

I would like to end this review by once again thanking Mr. Charles Thompson for canning that lazy Americana stuff he was doing for a while and returning to his former stature as one of the most reliably interesting and creative pop-rock songwriters in the world. THANK YOU MR. CHORTLES TOMBSTONE!

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Nonstoperotik - Essential Music & Marketing 2010
Rating = 8

I think it's safe to say that nobody who has seen a recent photo of Charles "Black Francis" Thompson has come away from the experience thinking anything other than "I must make love to that man." He oozes sex from every pore of a physique that almost literally screams, "I look like a big floppy boob." But the time is now and your sensual prayers have been answered because Nonstoperotik is an entire album devoted to the act of special places!

You might consider Thompson quite the ding-dong for pulling a boner like this, but come on -- this is Black Francis. Would he (woody) commit a fallacy (phallus E.) like writing sex songs without decent riffs? Hell no! Besides, it's not like he's trying to keep Enos (key penis) on the air. That'd be nuts! (balls)

With uncomfortably intimate refrains like "When I go down on you, we'll be happy" and "I want to be inside of you all the way," you might expect that Mr. Francis has replaced his melodic pop-rock sound with tuff Ted Nugent sex-funk or hottt Madonna sex-dance -- and you'd be right! The whole album sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers produced by Justin Timberlake.

Ha ha! April 23rd Fool's!

To match its lyrical concerns, the album features lots of organs (har har!), as well as strings, piano, and both acoustic and electric guitar. The first three songs find Thompson in a particularly sensual, sexy and romantic mood that might throw listeners for a loop until they realize how well-written the songs are. After that, the album turns to "normal Black Francis fare," meaning everything from uptempo melodic rock and sweet pop to balladry, jazzy cool and Sonic Youth guitar action. The sexual Frankness (pun extremely intended) can be a bit icky, but musically it's the same clever and tuneful Black Francis you've loved since Pixies times. In fact, "Six Legged Man" might as well be called "Pix Legged Ies," it sounds so much like a Surfer Rosa song. (I love it though - and so might you!) (Lack of ditto for the title track though, a horrendous ballad that dig far enough into the songwriting dumpster to musically quote "Wonderful Tonight")

You know what stumbles my bum? The fact that Frank Black wasted time on those dull Americana records when he clearly hadn't lost a bit of his creative talent. It makes you wonder what amazing things Neurosis could be doing if they'd get off this "everything has to be slow" kick. Doesn't it? Doesn't this new Black Francis album make you wonder that about Neurosis?

And don't even get me STARTED on what this record makes you wonder about Hal Holbrook!

(hint: without the mustache, he looks a hell of a lot like Nathaniel Hawthorne)

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You can buy Frank Black CDs here.

Back to Basics by Billy Bragg is an example of an album that is not reviewed on Mark Prindle's Record Review Guide