Pixies Doolittle

Monkey Gone To Heaven by Pixies

A few months ago we discussed a curious incident at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand, when an intruder broke into the squirrel monkey cage, and was fought off by the tiny primates.
The man responsible has appeared in court this week, so I thought my readers would appreciate an update. According to the newspaper, “by the time the incident was over, Casford had a broken leg, a broken tooth and multiple bruises from trying to get away. And Wellington’s squirrel monkeys had put an end to a mini-crime spree that Casford had been on for seven months.”
Apparently the criminal was also required to attend a restorative justice hearing with the monkeys (or at least their zoo-keepers).
Although several of the monkeys were traumatised, fortunately none of them actually went to heaven. I assume most of my readers are familiar with the Pixies, who are clearly one of the great alternative guitar bands of their era. ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ is taken from the band’s second album Doolittle, and features most of their trademarks – Black Francis’ endearing screaming, David Lovering’s solid back-beat, Kim Deal’s likeable backing vocals, and Joey Santiago’s deranged guitar.

On a related note, I had a some feedback this week, alerting me to a music quiz. If you’d like to identify 30 famous rock albums from some sometimes cryptic images, please visit https://www.normanrecords.com/features/vinyl-challenge.php. Let me know how you get on – I scored 14. You can check your answers at https://www.normanrecords.com/features/vinyl-challenge.php?answers=y&show_answers=y


  1. Pixies aside for a second, I got a whopping 10 on that monstrously devious quiz. In my own defense, there were a fair number of bands I either never heard of or whose band names I knew but wouldn’t recognize their album covers if held in my face. Fun, though.

  2. With the exception of a couple of tunes – “Here Comes Your Man” is a favorite – I otherwise never really clicked with this band. Rock had changed so much that I could not relate to their sound. They used to play around Boston a fair bit in their heyday but I was never once tempted to go. And yet I like Nirvana, the band they had a great impact on.

    • I really don’t like Nirvana at all, but love all those eighties guitar bands like Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Replacements, Husker Du etc. Felt like Nirvana delivered a stadium rock, cult of personality version of those bands.

        • I like popular music from other decades (I’ve covered Billy Joel after all…), but I do struggle with the 1990s as it’s the decade I grew up. I understand that I’m an outlier for not liking Nirvana.
          I do think guitar based music changed though – I find 1980s bands all have their quirks, and they were all a little weird to go mainstream, although R.E.M. streamlined their sound in the second half of the decade.
          Grunge from the 1990s kind of feels like a mix of that 1980s indie guitar sound and stadium rock from the 1970s. Grunge often feels navel gazing and depressing to me as well, and the introduction of the CD led to longer albums in the 1990s which often didn’t help (although Nirvana kept their albums pretty short I think).
          Sorry to disagree – hopefully we can find some more common ground soon.

          • By no means do I argue that you *should* like Nirvana. You like whoever you like. Hell, *I’m* the outlier on that one. I know few from my generation who are into them. My argument is, I think, that because Nirvana played arenas doesn’t make them an arena-rock band. I save that appellation for bands like Bon Jovi, Journey and 38 Special.
            Cobain himself wanted to stay under the radar and didn’t necessarily like the bigger crowds or the production sheen on Nevermind. But you know, a lot of people just liked their stuff and like it or not, he did become a voice of his generation.
            As to changes in rock, they were subtle over time but seem dramatic now. People sometimes submit songs to my for publication on my blog. Despite the basic standard equipment set up, they are hardly recognizable as rock and have long since lost their blues/Chuck Berry roots. But I show my age.

          • I do think Cobain was shooting for the mainstream at Nevermind, then shied away later. I just looked up a quote that I remembered reading: “How successful do you think a band could be if they mixed really heavy Black Sabbath with The Beatles? What could you do with that?” says Cobain. I do think he was shooting for an arena sound, and he captured lightning in a bottle with having an incredible drummer and a huge hit song, so he was the guy from the alt-rock scene to break through to the mainstream. I certainly wouldn’t label them as arena rock, but I think that arena-rock sound is there in the 1990s, with bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden as well.
            Obviously getting Albini to produce In Utero, and doing the Unplugged album with the Meat Puppets and Bowie covers was a shift away from the mainstream, and it’s a shame he died so young, as it would have been fascinating to see what he did next.
            I remember reading someone saying that as rock music builds on itself, it gets sterile – often the most interesting bands have influences outside of rock. Cobain certainly had some interesting influences like Leadbelly, that gave him a bit of edge. I haven’t found much modern guitar music that I like – it’s kind of lost momentum, and there’s more interesting music being made in pop, electronica, and hip hop.

          • I’m hard-pressed to A) disagree with anything you say here and B) not be depressed by your last sentence. It’s probably true but I will always be a rocker.

          • There may be another wave of guitar stuff one day, but the last time it felt relevant was maybe stuff like The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand in the first half of last decade.

          • Although that said, while they’re hardly new bands, U2, Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam all have strong guitar components. They are keeping the faith.

  3. I have to admit, even though I was in college and working at a college radio station at the time, I didn’t “get” Nirvana at all until In Utero. I went back from there and the other albums made more sense. I was listening to a lot of Sonic Youth and Rollins Band at the time, but Nirvana just didn’t click with me.

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