This Monday, the Pixies celebrated the 25th anniversary of their landmark record, Doolittle, with an expansive three-disc set. The first disc of Doolittle 25 contains the original record, the second contains recordings from the John Peel sessions, and the final CD contains the record played through once more with demos and B sides. It is an intriguing collection that adds to one of the alternative grunge movement’s most influential records, and it allows Pixies fans to obtain a much broader view of the original record’s context.
As previously mentioned, the first disc of the set is simply the original record, plain and simple. The content worth taking a look at lies on the latter two CD’s of the set. Firstly, the Peel Sessions are introduced in the second disc. John Peel, a famed English radio jockey and Pixies fan offered the band a chance to record sessions for his show during the era. Seven of those sessions are available here, and they are quite good, having been recorded professionally. Stand-out moments on the second disc include the softened version of Wave of Mutilation and the catchy Manta Ray.
The real reason to celebrate the Pixies and 25 years of Doolittle arrives on the third disc, a 22-song set of demos. The disc is broken down uniquely, with selections from two sessions, aptly labeled demos one and two depending on the track. The first 15 tracks of the CD are in identical play order to the original record, except they are demos. The last seven tracks are more random selections or radically different demos.
The third disc of the Pixies’ Doolittle 25 is very endearing and powerful. The demos, while surprisingly strong in sound quality and production, still feel lo-fi and mellow, making for a much more intimate listening experience. Black Francis’ little introductions to the takes are quirky and amusing, making tracks like the famous Hey even more enjoyable. During these demos, the Pixies are playing around sonically and lyrically, bouncing instrumental ideas off of each other. Doolittle 25 offers a beautifully unique window into the steps that led to the original record. Some eclectic versions of songs like Here Comes Your Man and Debaser keep the set consistently interesting.
There have been a great deal of reissues lately, so celebrating 25 years of Doolittle with the Pixies is welcome amid a sea of some excellent reissues this season. This tends to be the season when they come out, making box sets perfect for the holidays. Doolittle 25 is fairly low key, especially in comparison to expensive sets. The vinyl version of the record may be the best buy because it removes the original record, an element that may not have been necessary considering those buying the set likely already own some form of Doolittle already. In any case, it is a strong release and a uniquely introspective look into the music of the Pixies’ during their glory days, back when Kim Deal was still providing her haunting backing vocals and before their mid-1990’s breakup.
Review by Brett Stewart
Photo By Basheer Tome – Flickr License