The man behind the Pixies who has contributed plenty to the musical landscape of the last 20 years, Black Francis, the singer, and chief songwriter, has produced plenty of albums under different banners and changed styles from Rock to Grunge, country to folk, and back again but has such a distinguishable voice that ties the lot together and makes sense of them all. His first solo album, 1993’s ‘Frank Black’ was a belter, as was his second, a real tour de force.   2006’s ‘Fast Man Raider Man’ had some country stylings and the synth and brass re-arrangements of his Pixies songs on ‘Frank Black Francis’, you could pick up a record, and whilst the style changed the voice didn’t and nothing was out of bounds and as a result fans seemed more accepting of whatever he would throw at them.

‘Paley & Francis’ isn’t any different. Teaming up with Reid Paley for this 10-track LP, sees this 2011 album pressed on wax for the first time and comes in a gatefold sleeve and gets the love it probably deserved. ‘Curse’, is still a great opener with its shuffling snare and walking bass line with Francis’ dirty telecaster guitar very much in the fore.

The record trades lead vocals as it meanders through some gentle Paley led tracks before you get to the off-kilter piano tinkering ‘Seal’ with its dragged six strings that sounds like it could fall into a drunken stupor at any moment or the pair would forget where they’re taking it but you know this is meticulously crafted don’t you?

It’s a record that works really well and the two styles bounce off for a really strong left-of-center album that is excellent in its flow. ‘The Last Song’ is Paley being dark and throwing up a Johnny Cash like drawl that plays with your brain. It’s been a while since I played this album but the Gun Club stomp of ‘Magic Cup’ fills me with joy as does the Johnny Thunders like ‘Copy Cats’ rock n roll of ‘Deconstructed’ with its sleazy saxophone over some uptempo rock n roll and there is the Neil Young like ‘Crescent Moon’ before it draws to a close with the dreamy ‘Happy Shoes’. A really good album that has stood the test of time and over a decade later still throws up new curves that excite.

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