black francis bluefinger live at the hotel utah saloon

Black Francis – Bluefinger / Live At The Hotel Utah Saloon (Vinyl Re-issues)

2007’s Cooking vinyl release Bluefinger was a real highpoint in the career of Black Francis. A rampant juggernaut of a record, it was the first time he’d reverted to his Pixies stage name in more than 15 years, since 1991’s Trompe Le Monde, in fact, and its eleven-strong set contained 10 original numbers based around tragic Dutch painter and musician Herman Brood, who took his own life, aged 54, in July 2001 (if you don’t know his fascinating story already, I urge you to read up on it).

Sounding more like his old band in many places, which was presumably the reason for the reintroduction of his former moniker after a slew of albums as Frank Black, Bluefinger was my favourite album by the great man since 1994’s masterpiece Teenager Of The Year. That dirty, menacing bass on opener ‘Captain Pasty‘ was a real statement of intent, a ferocious rocker that proved he still had an ear for a banging melody, and single ‘Threshold Apprehension‘ nods to both The Beastie Boys and AC/DC in equal measure.

Some of the old influences were clearly in evidence too and to great effect. ‘Lolita‘ for example, leans heavily on a mix of 70s Neil Young albums, and the sweat-dripping, ramshackle nature of several compositions here suggest a love of early releases by The Damned. But the key man here is, of course, Brood, and a magnificent reading of the latter man’s ‘You Can’t Break A Heart And Have It‘ is delivered during the second half of Bluefinger, recalling New York Dolls at their peak.

Barely a foot is put wrong on this record, its standouts probably being the Stooges-like ‘Tight Black Rubber’ and the track that follows it, ‘Angels Come To Comfort You‘ complete with its ‘Where Is My Mind‘ style ‘whoos’. I always thought it sounded pretentious to say things sounded even better on vinyl, but you know what? This is the first time Bluefinger has been available in the format, and it DOES. It really bloody does!

Along with Bluefinger, another title getting a vinyl release is Francis’s Live At The Hotel Utah Saloon from the same year. This was previously only available as a USB drive release and is an intriguing listen, including, as it does over two discs, several of Bluefinger‘s best tracks and a selection of highlights from his career spanning right back to his Pixies days including ‘Wave Of Mutilation‘, Nimrod’s Son‘, ‘Mr. Grieves‘ and ‘Velouria‘ as well as the classic solo single ‘Headache‘. It’s an extremely intimate, stripped-down recording, perfect as a collector’s item but, let’s be honest, if you buy the two together, it’s undoubtedly Bluefinger you’ll return to time and again. Wonderful stuff from Demon Records, and beautifully packaged in blue and red vinyl respectively. And really, what’s not to like about that?

Bluefinger and Live At The Hotel Utah Saloon are both out now on vinyl through Demon Music.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.