The Pixies

ROCKTOBER 2012: 1987 - None More Black (Francis)

The top 25 songs of 1987 featured massively popular performers (George Michael, Bon Jovi) and even more acts that subsequently disappea­red (Robbie Nevil, Gregory Abbott, Billy Vera and the Beaters).  In the summer of that year, Heart (“Alone”), Bob Seger (“Shakedown”), and a Los Lobos cover of a Ritchie Valens song all held the #1 spot. Whitney Houston released her second album in June. Def Leppard released Hysteria on August 3, and Michael Jackson released Bad on August 31. Madonna was in the midst of a music tour to support her movie (?) Who’s That Girl.

But those headlines do not begin to tell the story of 1987. It was a year that saw that saw hugely influential bands like Husker Du and The Smiths break up in spectacularly public fashion. Conversely, here in Washington DC, a guy from Minor Threat and a couple of guys from Rites of Spring formed a new band called Fugazi. And U2 were catapulted from mid-level fame to super-stardom with the release of The Joshua Tree, which would cause many people listening to their local top 40 stations to wonder what else they might be missing on college radio.

For this trip back to 1987 we’re going to focus on three albums. Three albums by then-unknown bands that would have a massive imprint on both popular and alternative music for years, and went largely unnoticed by most listeners only to be rediscovered later.

Daily Listen: Paley & Francis: "Crescent Moon"

Take a pinch of Pixies, a little Tom Waits, and add a dash Muscle Shoals goodness, mix it up real good and what you'd end up with is the new record from Reid Paley and Black Francis (aka. Frank Black of Pixies fame). 

Stripped down and off the cuff, these recordings came about over the course of a week or two, and it shows. But in that raggedness is a charm that endears the listener to the material in a way that very few records can. These songs could have been written in your living room, if only you knew Frank Black. At least those are my thoughts.

Here's what THEY have to say about it:

"We wrote the music for the songs in Paley’s apartment in Brooklyn over three afternoons when Francis was in New York for a three day run at Joe’s Pub. After which we each took half of the songs to finish off with lyrics, and Francis went off to meet what he sometimes likes to call “the old band” for another tour.
A few days later, we were recording at Jon Tiven’s studio in Nashville. We each sang lead on the songs we wrote lyrics for and sang backup on the others. We worked fast. Francis had Pixies shows each evening, so we had a curfew. Paley recalls finishing the lyrics to one tune literally a minute before cutting the vocal. The two of us on guitars, with legendary Muscle Shoals players David Hood on bass and Spooner Oldham on piano. Damn, those guys are good. Hope you dig the vibe.“

Sounds great right? Unfortunately you'll have to wait until October to experience the results in full. In the meantime though, we've got your first tast of this project right here for you right here, right now. This is one of the quieter numbers on the record, but it should still give you a pretty good idea of what's in store. 

Paley & Francis - "Crescent Moon" 

Paley & Francis will be released into the world by Sonic Onyon on October 11th.