Pixies – Come On Pilgrim: #455 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Pixies - Come On Pilgrim

So why is Pixies’ Come On Pilgrim on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

This is the first appearance of the Pixies on this here best 1,000 albums ever project-type-thing. There’s a reason for that: I’m a huge fan of theirs (and, over the years, perhaps an even bigger fan of Frank Black’s solo work* and other collaborations).

* Also: don’t forget Kim Deal’s incredible output with The Breeders!

Which to say: this is the start of it, right here, with Come On Pilgrim, the band’s debut EP from 1987. At eight songs and just over twenty minutes, it’s a tight and crisp listen. Which is almost always true with the Pixies, really: every sound and moment counts, even at their most experimental and abstract.

What I found challenging about Come On Pilgrim – a good challenge, to be sure – is that I’m so familiar with many of its songs based on other, later versions. So much so that songs like “The Holiday Song” and “Caribou” and “Nimrod’s Son” almost feel like “Pixies standards,” and the versions on this album just happen to be one collection of them.

So the challenge came in evaluating this set of eight songs as produced, as the band’s launch into the world, and what it means versus the band’s later work and, of course, the entirety of music that this project makes some foolhardy attempt to represent in some way.

Enough with naval gazing! It’s a great album, even at EP-ish length and even if my favorite version of some of its songs live on other Pixies or Frank Black solo record releases.

I will forever and ever be a sucker for the kind of alt rock meets blues rock meets punk rock guitar strumming that kicks off “Nimrod’s Son.” And even without knowing anything about Nimrod, let alone his son, you have to give Frank and crew a lot of credit for declaring, in the first verse no less, “You are the son of a mother f—er.”

But more than anything I’m enthralled by the song’s energy energy energy. Just fantastic.

Thinking about “The Holiday Song” from the perspective of being on this debut EP – from an at the time unknown band – is astonishing. The Pixies come across as a fully formed, crushingly effective entity that at the same time has sort of-kind of-not really-but kinda really reinvented rock music in their own alternative rock image.

Overblown? I’ll let you be the judge.

I always dig the Pixies’ and Black’s forays into Spanish language lyrics in their music, and “Isla de Encanta” is absolutely my brand of thrashy yet somehow melodic punk rock.

Me voy, indeed!

And “Ed Is Dead” proves out the band’s delightful pop sensibilities as interpreted through the Pixies’ inherently offbeat and unique worldview.   

Personal stuff that has something to do with Pixies’ Come On Pilgrim

My wife and I and some friends are going to see the Pixies in concert here in Seattle in September. It’s the first time I’ll be seeing them live and it will be a major bucket list item ticked off for me.

Here are some of my favorite all time concert experiences.

  • Rage Against the Machine, New York City, mid ‘90s – the most intense and exhilarating musical experience of my life.
  • Nirvana, Buffalo NY, mid ‘90s, In Utero tour – okay, this one comes really really close.
  • R.E.M., Hollywood Bowl, mid-2000s, Accelerate tour – it was so incredible to see one of my most favorite bands live in such a special setting. I could not have enjoyed it more.
  • The Mighty Mighty Boss Tones, all over New York and toss in a little California, ‘90s-‘00s – I have seen them many times, always great.
  • Aerosmith (with Skid Row opening!), Long Island NY, late ‘80s, Pump tour – my first concert experience with big time rock bands. Read lots more about it here and here.
  • Honorable mention – Beck, Midnight Oil, Black Crowes, The Aquabats, Brother Meat, and many more!

I’ve also been lucky to catch a number of my favorite bands by way of festival shows, which is always fun, but never tend to bubble up to the level of seeing a single band headline for an hour and a half-plus.

Some stats & info about Pixies – Come On Pilgrim

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Alternative Rock, Boston Bands, College Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!  
  • All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Come On Pilgrim released? 1987
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #455 out of 1,000

Pixies’ Come On Pilgrim on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Pixies’ Come On Pilgrim that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

This ain’t no holiday, but it always turns out this way.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.