Frank Black - Frank Black 93-03 Review

by Zane Ewton

The death of the Pixies locked the wailing Black Francis into college rock purgatory and unearthed one of the '90s most underappreciated songwriters, Frank Black.

Frank Black 93-03 chronicles 22 songs from nine of Frank Black's solo albums. Not to mention one new track from the forthcoming album Bluefinger, set to feature the Black Francis moniker. It seems as though a reunited Pixies may have resuscitated the flabby screamer. It is sage to assume the new album is the songs that the other Pixies (cough, Kim, cough) did not want to record. Too bad for them, the new track "Threshold Apprehension" is a hot slice of rock with some new wave choruses on the side.

The remainder of Frank Black 93-03 is a straightforward sample of the first decade of Frank Black. The only letdown is it may be too straightforward. Gone are Black's more experimental meanderings and genre exercises to make way for just the meat and potatoes. Frank Black 93-03 also leans heavily on his first two solo records. 1993s Frank Black and 1994s Teenager of the Year contribute nearly half of the total tracks. Songs like "Los Angeles", "Abstract Plain" and "Freedom Rock" are highlights from those two albums that Black had a hard time topping.

The following years took Black through the joys of 2-track recording. At times this paid off and added urgency to the songs, other times it limited the songs potential.

Regardless, everything on Frank Black 93-03 is dang exciting stuff. "Men in Black", "You Ain't Me", "Western Star" and "Manitoba" are just a sample.

Nothing from Honeycomb or Fastman/Raiderman is included. The smooth alt/country tones of those records would be an odd fit with the unending alt/rock of this compilation. The term alt/rock is stupid and blame for its existence can be traced back to Black, but he is one of its best contributors.

This serves as the perfect "hits" compilation for anyone who just wants a taste of Frank Black. There is enough meat and potatoes to go around, just check out the records if you want a little garnish.

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