The Complete Recordings

As the Kim Deal-less Pixies grind on (for better or for worse)—releasing new songs and touring as the legacy act they never wanted to be—it's easy to forget about that other chapter in guitarist-vocalist Black Francis/Frank Black's life. After a couple of excellent post-Pixies solo albums, Black formed the Catholics in 1997, and the band released six albums before calling it a day when the Pixies reformed in 2003. The just-released The Complete Recordings is just that, featuring every Frank Black and the Catholics album in addition to B-sides and previously unreleased demos. As he's done on previous releases and even with set lists, Black brashly arranged every song in the collection alphabetically. As he said to me in a recent interview, “It's kind of a way to show loyalty to the material. It's like, ‘You know what? It's all good. It's all valid.'” And while the material varies in quality, there's no denying how consistent the man has been. Songs like “Billy Radcliffe” (from 1997's excellent Pistolero) sidles up seamlessly next to “Black Letter Day” (Black Letter Days, 2002), and every song in the collection shows Black relenting to his appreciation for classic rock while still maintaining his punk-rock bark. It's quality stuff … just ask Frank Black.