Death to the Pixies 1987-1991

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Death to the Pixies has a difficult task -- distilling the highlights of a band that concentrated on albums, not singles. The Pixies' catalog was remarkably consistent, which means that most won't agree with all the 17 selections that comprise the first disc of this retrospective, since there are so many strong songs on their records. While most of the usual suspects are here -- "Debaser," "Here Comes Your Man," "Bone Machine," "Gigantic," "Where Is My Mind?," "Velouria," "Nimrod's Son," "Wave of Mutilation," "Monkey Gone to Heaven" -- many of the selections appear to have been made at random. As good as "Cecilia Ann," "Holiday Song," "U-Mass," and "Gouge Away" are, such essentials as "River Euphrates," "Cactus," "Hey," "Allison," "Vamos," "I've Been Tired," "The Happening," "Letter to Memphis," and "Motorway to Roswell" could have easily taken their place. Some of these songs are on disc two, a 21-song live disc culled from a 1990 Dutch concert that has been heavily bootlegged. It's a terrific concert, but the pairing of a greatest-hits record with a live show is puzzling, since casual fans who want the hits won't need the live disc, and the hardcore fans only need the second disc. This pairing alone makes Death to the Pixies unnecessary for neophytes, but the hits disc itself also is an imperfect introduction, since its nonchronological sequencing distorts the Pixies' impact. Still, there's so much great music on the collection that it isn't worthless, but the presentation is so ill-conceived that the very existence of Death to the Pixies is a little puzzling.

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