Missed opportunity: Come on Pixies, you know we love you!

You may have heard that the Pixies are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Surfer Rosa with a big box set.

Three CD and Three LP editions out on September 28th, 2018 with new artwork reimagined by original designer Vaughan Oliver and the bonus disc, Live From The Fallout Shelter – one of the earliest recordings of the band, a radio concert that first aired in late 1986 on WJUL-FM in Lowell, MA.

It’s cool that they’re digging up a rare old concert for this, but what a missed opportunity to reissue these classics with the respect they deserve by gathering up all the music they recorded during this era.

It’s easy to imagine what could’ve been.

We all know that Come On Pilgrim was originally recorded as a demo tape to try to get a record deal. It worked, of course, because 4AD heard it and signed the band. 4AD selected 8 of the 17 songs from the demo and released them as Come On Pilgrim, clocking in at a generous twenty minutes and thirty seconds of music.

Most of the remaining nine songs were subsequently re-recorded and released on later albums and singles. Songs like “Broken Face” and “Here Comes Your Man.” All of those nine original demo versions were eventually released by spinART Records in 2002. They’re awesome.

And there’s no reason they shouldn’t be included in a special deluxe anniversary edition. Especially since the 17 songs altogether add up to under 39 minutes.

And then there’s Surfer Rosa. I’ve never heard of any unreleased outtakes from the Surfer Rosa sessions, but who knows? For bonus tracks you could easily add the four songs on the “Gigantic” single plus the five songs they recorded for the John Peel show in May of 1988.

The suits at 4AD apparently didn’t think Steve Albini’s recording of “Gigantic” was good enough, so they re-recorded it and “River Euphrates” with producer Gil Norton. The single version of “Gigantic” has been released on the compilations Death to the Pixies and Wave of Mutilation. It’s not as good as the album version, but it’s worth hearing.

The band’s Complete ‘B’ Sides were compiled in 2001 and include Norton’s recording of “River Euphrates” as well as the live versions of “Vamos” and “In Heaven.”

The Peel Sessions were collected in 1998 and released as Pixies at the BBC. The highlight is a cover of the Beatles’ “Wild Honey Pie” off the White Album. It’s maniacal. They also did “Levitate Me” and “Caribou” from Come On Pilgrim but nothing from the just released Surfer Rosa. They played a brand new song (“Hey”) that would come out the next year on Doolittle. They also did one more version of their beloved Lady in the Radiator song, “In Heaven,” from Eraserhead.

So there. Nine bonus tracks added to each album. Or, if you’re being precious about the sanctity of the original releases, you could throw all 18 of my bonus tracks on a separate disc. But they ought to be included. Because those recordings are good. And they belong. And they deserve to be heard.

Come On Pilgrim Track List (Glorious Noise Edition)

1 Caribou
2 Vamos (Pilgrim)
3 Isla De Encanta
4 Ed Is Dead
5 The Holiday Song
6 Nimrod’s Son
7 I’ve Been Tired
8 Levitate Me

9 Broken Face (Purple Tape)
10 Build High (Purple Tape)
11 Rock a My Soul (Purple Tape)
12 Down to the Well (Purple Tape)
13 Break My Body (Purple Tape)
14 I’m Amazed (Purple Tape)
15 Here Comes Your Man (Purple Tape)
16 Subbacultcha (Purple Tape)
17 In Heaven (Purple Tape)

Surfer Rosa Track List (Glorious Noise Edition)

1 Bone Machine
2 Break My Body
3 Something Against You
4 Broken Face
5 Gigantic
6 River Euphrates
7 Where Is My Mind?
8 Cactus
9 Tony’s Theme
10 Oh My Golly!
11 Vamos (Surfer Rosa)
12 I’m Amazed
13 Brick Is Red

14 Gigantic (single)
15 River Euphrates (single)
16 Vamos (live)
17 In Heaven (live)
18 Levitate Me (Peel)
19 Hey (Peel)
20 Wild Honey Pie (Peel)
21 Caribou (Peel)
22 In Heaven (Peel)

I was going to compile these into playlists to stream on Spotify and Apple Music, but unfortunately spinART Records went out of business in 2007, so those extra Purple Tape demos aren’t available. And neither is the b-sides collection for some reason. Boo. Oh well, hold onto your physical media, people!

Live From The Fallout Shelter

1 Holiday Song
2 I’m Amazed
3 Rock A My Soul
4 Isla De Encanta
5 Caribou
6 Broken Face
7 Subbacultcha
8 Build High
9 Ed Is Dead
10 Nimrod’s Son
11 Down To The Well
12 I’ve Been Tired
13 Boom Chicka Boom
14 Vamos
15 In Heaven
16 Pixies Interview (CD only)

Video: Pixies – “River Euphrates” (live in 1988)

Pixies: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Photos by Simon Larbalestier.

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