Pixies, Complete B-Sides – Released in 2001, this is just what it says on the package, a collection of songs previously only released as B-sides. What more is there to say, really? As is typical with such things, it’s a mixed bag, with some things that are obviously not album-worthy and others quite good.
River Euphrates – A different recording of the Surfer Rosa song specifically intended to be a B-side. I can’t say it’s noticeably distinct from the other version.
Vamos – A live version of the song they’d already released twice, with Joey Santiago making a lot of sound effects with his guitar during the solo.
In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song) – Originally from the movie Eraserhead, in which it was sung by a perky girl with severely swollen cheeks who hung out inside a radiator, hence the alternate title.
The lyrics were by David Lynch and the music by Peter Ivers, whose death is mentioned in “I Gotta Move.” The Pixies turn it into a rock song, starting out quiet but getting louder with each verse. When they performed this live in the 2000s, Kim Deal would sing it without the increasing volume, making it closer to the original.
Manta Ray – Based on how Black Francis’ mother told him about seeing a glowing red object in the sky that she took for a flying saucer when he was only three months old. According to his account of her account, the police tried to chase it, but couldn’t catch up to it. This seems to have had a pretty profound influence on Frank’s music career. He alters between falsetto and screaming, while Kim does a catchy backing vocal. According to the liner notes, Frank didn’t really like how this one turned out, but I think it’s pretty good.
Weird at My School – An energetic song that’s basically a collection of different stories about students, some of them presumably Frank’s own classmates. He’s mentioned that the teenagers taking a private plane to Colombia in order to sell drugs was a true story, although he didn’t participate in it.
Dancing the Manta Ray – Another flying saucer song, this time with kind of a dance beat to it. I originally heard one line of the song as “Fish don’t swim, fish FLY!”, but apparently it’s actually “this” instead of “fish.”
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf) – A slower version of the Doolittle track that live audiences apparently seemed to prefer. It does seem to have a little more impact this way. At at least one of the Pixies concerts I attended in the early 2000s, they played both versions.
Into the White – One of the best tracks on here, I’m sure they could have used it on an album. According to the liner notes, it went over really well live. It’s another space-themed song, with Kim providing an almost psychedelic lead vocal.
Bailey’s Walk – Frank returns to his theme of writing songs about unusual people he saw in the various places he’d lived. This one is about a homeless man in San Juan who would frequently pause while walking to tap his head and spin around before continuing. I might have a milder form of whatever mental illness he had, as I also sometimes have weird rituals that I can’t sufficiently explain. I think I recall reading that someone considered this to be the Pixies’ weirdest song, although obviously it has plenty of competition.
Make Believe – David Lovering sings the lead vocal on this song about an obsessive crush on Debbie Gibson (sorry, I guess she’s DEBORAH Gibson now). Apparently this was a bit of an inside joke for the band. David does kind of a lounge singer thing on it.
I’ve Been Waiting for You – This one is a Neil Young cover. I always find it interesting to note whether someone of a different gender from the original changes the lyrics. Here, Kim sings a love song to a woman, although that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s singing from a male point of view. I think the Pixies liked to play with gender roles, as I’ve seen it pointed out that Frank often sings the high parts and Kim the low ones when they harmonize. They don’t do it to the same extent as Stephin Merritt, but it’s along the same lines.
The Thing – Just a remix of the ending part of the “The Happening.”
Winterlong – Another Neil Young song, which Frank has said is one of his favorites.
The Pixies speed it up and give it some noisier guitar work, with Kim and Frank doing a duet on the vocals. I really like the result.
Santo – There’s a neat sound to this one, both to the vocals and instrumentals. There’s kind of a banjo quality to the guitar.
Theme from Narc – I know rock bands covering video game themes is pretty common now, but was it back in 1991? I’m really not sure. Anyway, this is just what it says, the music from the video game that features a narcotics officer gunning down drug dealers.
Max Force is a guy who shoots first and asks questions later, except without the questions.
Comic source: Captain SNES
Build High – An early and rather hyper song from the early days of the band. There are other versions of this one on the demo tape and Frank Black Francis.
Evil Hearted You – A cover of a song written by Graham Gouldman and performed by the Yardbirds.
The Pixies decided to perform it in Spanish, but Frank wasn’t all that good at the language, and Gouldman insisted they get it right. Frank credits a cook for helping him with the translation.
Letter to Memphis (Instrumental) – Do I really need to explain what this is? I will say that it’s interesting to hear instrumental versions of familiar songs sometimes.