If asked what my favorite cut from this album is, I am very nearly at a loss. This disc is simply relentless, with one astonishingly polished, robust, inventive, glorious cut after another. We like to talk about albums that have no filler, but this is one of the few that justifies that description. If there is a critcism that could be made of this album, it is that it is too consistently brilliant to digest properly. By the way, if forced to chose a favorite cut, I might go with "Gouge Away," but I wouldn't go too far out of the way to defend my choice, and I might feel differently on a different day.
Black Francis aka Frank Black aka Charles Thompson (his real name) is the heart and soul of the band, writing all the songs and taking most of the lead vocals, in the performance of which he often literally screams out the lyrics. The man comes across as taut, angry, and more than a little manic. Though his singing and songs make this the classic it is, the rest of the quartet carries their load as well. Kim Deal adds some wonderful back up vocals throughout, and provides solid bass, never being simply a pretty face. David Lovering lays down solid beats throughout the album, crucial in a project that depends so strongly on powerful rhythms. And Joey Santiago plays great guitar on every song, providing an energy and texture that perfectly compliments Black's great songs.
I have a couple of friend's who don't like this disc, and I am powerless to explain this. This is one of those albums that, when fully digested, becomes part of one's emotional and musical furniture, a disc that I go back to again and again and again. And it remains as vital and as fresh sounding today as it did when I first discovered it fifteen years ago.
on June 12, 1999
The Pixies are one of the greatest bands ever, as innovative as Hendrix, the Beatles, and Dylan were in the '60s. Not only were they innovative and original, but so far ahead of their time that Rock is still catching up.
It's hard to write a review of a Pixies album without gushing over the band instead of the album, but there's more than enough praise for the band on this page, so I'll get right to the album. Doolittle is, quite simply, the Pixies best album. It is an absolute masterpiece. There is no filler whatsoever. It starts out with the incredibly catchy "Debaser", moves into "Tame", which moves so incredibly well between quiet whispers and screeching (but somehow melodic) vocals. And then there's "Wave of Mutilation", a wonderful bit of surf music reminiscent of the Beach Boys. And "I Bleed", a spectacular duet between the anguished voice of the lead singer, Frank Black, and the sickly-sweet crooning of Kim Deal, who went on to form the Breeders. Then there's the pop masterpiece, "Here Comes Your Man", the anxious "Dead", the powerful "Monkey Gone to Heaven", the disturbing "Mr. Grieves"... And that's only the first eight songs, out of fifteen incredible, unbelievable tracks. I could go on at great length about Doolittle, but it truly is indescribable. Borrow a copy from a friend if you're not sure, but somehow you must listen to this album. Once you do you'll never look at Rock & Roll the same way again.
on October 6, 2000
If the late 1980s had some really contrived, horrendous garbage some people called music, there were certainly the alternatives who displayed scorching guitars, interesting and unexpected arrangements, clever lyrics, and great albums. One band who exemplified this alternative was the Pixies, disbanding in the early 90s creating their own side projects, but not before creating a few brilliant records, Doolittle being the most brilliant of them all. The vocals of Black Francis coupled with the softer and distinctive voice of Kim Deal was purely delightful, with some truly exceptional and memorable songs like "Debaser", "Wave of Mutilation", "Here Comes Your Man" (which is quite melodic!), "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and several other remarkable songs. This is a solid, superb album which any serious music lover must have. It is a little unconventional and might take some getting used to, but it is infinitely worth it.
on November 13, 2009
In these days of digital remastering of older releases- where the remastered sound often suffers over the top digital brick wall compression (the "loudness war"), its great to find a modern remaster sounding genuinely better & clearer than the original. The only other recent remasters I know of where this is true is of the new Beatles 2009 ones.
The difference is that this is alternative rock/ pop genre and also its one of the only bands where the increased sonic clarity and punch is thanks to the fantastic job the sound engineers have done from the original tapes and the SACD release format.
Its a shame no other alternative bands (other than NIN) have been blessed with this process... but here's hoping for Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana, and Midnight Oil (not that these original CD releases sound bad).
The loudness war makes me sick to the point I almost have to take my laptop into my record store to see how overly compressed and ruined many modern releases are before I decide whether I'll hand over any money for them (no wonder CD sales are rapidly declining). However with alternative rock on SACD I know I'll always get the best possible sound hands down!
The Pixies were a great band, and Doolittle a brilliant album that still sounds fresh as ever. Turn it up on your SACD player and relive it as never before!
My only gripe is the packaging- a cardboard digipack type thingy with the disc in a miniture felt sleeve- I suppose some artist thought this would be classy but its a pain in the ass. Its also oddly oversize so it doesn't fit at all with my other CDs- I had to cut it down to fit in a standard Jewel case.
Looking forward to Surfa Rosa next.
on August 21, 2005
Every so often, a truly superior effort slips through the cracks of even the most ardent music fan. A buddy lent me a copy of "Doolittle" by the Pixies and now I feel like I've "discovered" something remarkable. But a word of warning, reserve judgement until you have listened to it three times! I say this because the style varies greatly from song to song and the vocals of Black Frances are unusual. But the songs are killer, ranging from shout-it-out cuts such as "Debaser" to straight pop songs like "Here Comes Your Man". Throw in complete changes of pace like "Dead", which brought to mind some of the more inventive David Bowie or Iggy Pop efforts of the early 80's. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, the next song will take you in an entirely different direction. The bouncing beat of "Mr. Grieves" acelerates to the manic pace of "Crackity Jones", slows down again for "La La Love You" and "There Goes My Gun" before completely changing gears yet again...well, you get the idea. It's quite a ride!
It's a shame I was sleeping for the last fifteen plus years and missed the "Pixies", but now I'm going to make up the time by wearing their CDs out.
on September 20, 1999
This isn't my favorite album ever. Daydream Nation, Slanted & Enchanted, Houses of the Holy, This Nation's Saving Grace, You're Living All Over Me. I like those albums more. But no album sounds anything like this, and so few are so well done all the way through.
I was at a party once and when we made a food run I went to the record store next door and got Surfer Rosa on an impulse; I hadnt really heard the Pixies before, I had just heard that they were big influences on Nirvana and that it was Kim Deal's old band. We played the record real loud for all the drunk kids at the party and we thought it was awesome.
My friend bought Doolittle some time after and told me all the time "Surfer Rosa is awesome, but Doolittle is just unbelievable from beginning to end, its so rough and catchy and cool." I always sort of brushed him off when he raved about it, but I finally got it and he wasn't telling me the half of it.
Black Francis' whispers in "Tame" were so chilling and creepy I listened to that beginning over and over. "Got hips like Cinderella..." Kim's voice in "I Bleed" sounds almost inhuman, its so perfect, it complements Frank's deranged howl to brilliance. And the LYRICS in "Dead" are unbelievable. I always find my self singing "You crazy babe Bathsheba, I want ya." Halfway through the bass and guitar start this crazy unison riff thats hardly fits but sounds like nothing else belongs at that spot. There's too much else to say. It's just one of those albums that I might never get tired of, and will have affected me forever.
on March 8, 2002
Despite the fact that this album is generally held in ridiculously high regard, it remains impossible to overrate. That's right. It's one of a handful of pop records that's even better than the truckload of hipster cred it has garnered. When this record came out, it re-wrote the rules of pop/punk/rock in many ways. It fused the sci-fi fixations and complex arrangements of progressive rock with the immediacy and honesty of Mission of Burma, the humor of the Ramones and the visceral impact of Husker Du. And even those comparisons don't do it justice. The album is over a decade old and still sounds like it was recorded tomorrow. The album is uncompromising yet accessible. They brought hooks galore, some of the best shout-out-loud choruses in the history of recorded sound, and some really deft musicianship to support Black Francis' twisted visions. As with all Pixies albums, Black's schizoid vocals are the focal point. He sounds like a serial killer on "Debaser", a choirboy on "I Bleed" and a martyred saint of "Silver". The interplay between his whoops, hisses, croons and howls with Kim Deals school-girl deadpan was something of a unique and impossible beauty never heard before and never quite matched since.
on February 17, 2001
If there was any band who just didn't seem to care how strange or noisy they came off, it would have to be The Pixies. But what they created was brilliant, offbeat, and catchy music. Good luck trying to figure out exactly what Black Francis' (now Frank Black) lyrics are about with his twisted tales and weird lines. The music is flat-out amazing rock that was very ahead of its time. Yeah, this was released in 1989, but it still sounds fresh today. The musicianship in the Pixies was great and it's a shame they are no more. At least they put out this excellent piece of work entitled Doolittle. Check out the Frank's psychotic chants on "Debaser," the dark and twisted "I Bleed," "Wave Of Mutilation," "Hey," and the classic "Monkey Gone To Heaven." Hey, even the most accessible song, the poppy "Here Comes Your Man," oozes with originality. If rock these days is bringing you down, take a trip back to 89 with Doolittle. And give it a few listens if it doesn't sink in at first.
on May 2, 1999
For starters, don't expect to understand what the hell Black Francis is singing about. Only one man knows, and he ain't really telling. Interpret them however you want, and you're probably still wrong. This album is the raving of a madman, back by one of the most bone-crushingly loud bands in the history of music. It will make the rest of you CDs cower in the corner and hide from it. Even the slow songs sound loud. Quite simply, one of the best albums of all time.
Or, as Kurt Cobain put it, "I wanted to write the perfect pop song, and was extremely dismayed to find out the Pixies had already done it."
on October 28, 2002
" "Doolittle" by The Pixies influenced Nirvana...". I know. If you read the rock press a lot you've heard that line, and it's true, but, while "Nevermind" is also a great album, the people saying that forget that a great deal was lost in the translation.
No other album by any band can go from a whisper to a scream (literally. Listen to "Tame".). That's a given. What's really wild about this album is the way it contains haunting, industrial Apocalyptic warnings and THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL. I've never heard an album that conveys a feeling of foreboding over the future ("got killed by ten million pounds of sludge from New York & New Jersey" sings Black Francis about the 'Monkey Gone To Heaven') mixed with romantic obssessions ('La La Love You', 'No. 13 Baby', et al. It's as if it stands as a testament to love over self destruction, but JUST BARELY. Things are still ready to crack in the David Lynch meets Mad Max atmosphere (does it come as any surprise that the Pixies covered 'The Lady In The Radiator Song' from Eraserhead?).
However, if this were all Doolittle were about, it would stand as just another strange 'alternative' album. What really kicks this album into the stratosphere of bona-fide-I-100%- ... -guaruntee-it classics is that the Pixies play here like there won't be a tomorrow unless they pull it off, and this greatly adds to the final sincerity & credibility of the album.
Then husband & wife Kim Deal & David Lovering build a rock solid primal bass & drum foundation for the album to anchor into so it isn't swept away 'on a wave of mutilation' while Joey Santiago deftly swerves between sweet melodies & the sounds of creaking metal & concrete structures eroding in the wilderness. All the while Black Francis (as he called himself then) swings through bipolar highs & lows between grasping for the objects of affection to feel whole & then nearly going insane when it all slips through his fingers (trust me, this guy was the Ferrari of all rock n' roll screams..).
One of the other reviewers said "I NEVER get tired of this album!". I whole heartedly agree. Right on, bro.