Driving in a car after spending two long years taking buses, riding bikes, and (dare I say it), walking, is an incredible feeling. And what's the only better feeling than actually driving a car after being away from it for so long? The answer is simple; listening to a tape in the tape player while driving the car. Not that stupid CD bullshit. I'm talking about a cassette. A mix that an older brother or sister or friend made for you. Case in point: Driving up the mountains of Boulder, CO, while hearing Frank Black's "Speedy Marie" for the first time in my friend Jim's early '90s Volvo. God I miss that disgusting car. Jim sold out and got an SUV our senior year with (dare I say it again) a CD PLAYER!!! The heartache. Anyway, I had listened to Pixies before many times, (Which I learned is kind of what you do in college. You listen to Surfer Rosa a lot), but I had never really paid attention to Frank Black's solo stuff.
Teenager Of The Year is one of my favorite albums that Black has attached himself to, Pixies or solo. "Speedy Marie", and "Headache" are amazing songs, and let's face it, TOTY has one of the best album covers ever.
Listen, I know the dude's name is Frank Black, but I always enjoy calling him Black Francis, his on again off again stage name. That is one of the coolest fucking names in all of rock history and if my mom had named me "Black" I'd be a rock star for sure. You have no choice in your professional pathway if your name if Black. So for the sake of making Frank Black seem even cooler than he already is, let's call him Black Francis one last time.
Fast forward to 2005 and Black records Honeycomb in Nashville and becomes a sort of Alt-Country musician. And you know what? Black Francis can do whatever the hell he wants and we'll enjoy it and not question it for a second. Don't question the man who wrote the line "You're so pretty when you're unfaithful to me" on "Bone Machine."
Black's newest album is a continuation of Honeycomb. On his new double disc, Fast Man Raider Man, he continues his country image and records with such heroes as Levon Helm and Al Kooper. It's no surprise that Levon Helm is a part of this project. You can hear Black's admiration of The Band's drummer/singer on "Fast Man." When Black hits his falsetto on the song, it sounds like an exact match to Helm's incredible nostalgic voice.
"In The Time Of My Ruin," my personal favorite, sounds like a Black Francis take on a '60s girl group song. It's a catchy pop song filled with piano, stomping, and tambourine. It also rhymes "music curator" with "date her" which is just amazing in itself.
Black is one of the most gifted lyricists ever, and he comes up with some AMAZING song titles on this album. "If Your Poison Gets You," "You Can't Crucify Yourself," "I'm Not Dead (I'm In Pittsburgh)," "Kiss My Ring" and "It's Just Not Your Moment" top the list.
Listen, this album isn't going to change your life. It's not going to cure your migraine headaches. You're not going to put this record on before you put on Doolittle. But you're not supposed to. This is mature Frank Black, doing whatever the hell he wants to do. He's playing with his heroes and he's writing what he wants to write. So do him a favor and don't yell out "Debaser" when he comes to town and plays these pretty songs for you on his next tour.