Black Francis

It’s fair to say that the solo output of the godfather of alt-rock does not scale the heights of his group The Pixies. In fact it’s a downright scandal that a man that can release an album such as Doolittle with his mates sees fit to release such tosh under his own name, but such is the enigma of Frank Black. On this, his latest solo effort, he has reverted to the Black Francis moniker, the name he uses when he’s a member of The Pixies, and all of a sudden he’s releasing quality tunes again. Oh yeah, he’s also been possessed by a dead rock ‘n’ roller or something.

Francis says he was “gripped by the spirit of Herman Brood” as he was writing and recording the 11 tracks that make up Bluefinger. And, no, I’ve never heard of Herman Brood either! Apparently he was a Dutch rock musician and artist who experienced success in Europe and the USA, and who’s living of the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle ended with him taking his own life by jumping off the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton, the hotel made famous by the John and Yoko honeymoon bed in.

Well, I for one hope that Mr Francis is gripped by more spirits more often, because he’s produced a riff-laden 11 tracks of crunching guitars, and atmospheric vocals that could have been released at peak-era Pixies time. There is a cover of a Brood song, “You Can’t Break A Heart and Have It” which if the original sounds anything like the cover, makes me want to go out and buy all of Mr Broods albums. But the best track on there is “Test Pilot Blues”, which is magnificent. This is definitely NOT one just for the fans.

Ian Dugdale