Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Great Newspaper Reads: The legend of "Cannonball" and The Breeders keeps growing 30 years later

I've seen Kim Deal twice in her role as bassist for the Pixies - in New York and in Washington D.C. - but I've never seen The Breeders, which is often considered her "other band." But I would consider them both among the greatest rock bands ever, and an argument could be made that The Breeders' album Last Splash is better than any of the Pixies' records.

As The Breeders toured last fall, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Last Splash and the mega-hit "Cannonball," I missed the show in Silver Spring, Maryland, but The Washington Post had a great feature. Here are 10 interesting nuggets from that article and my 25 favorite songs by the band.

  1. "Cannonball" was called the 22nd greatest indie anthem by New Musical Express, the 83rd greatest song of the 1990s by VH1, and one of the 500 best songs ever by Rolling Stone.
  2. The band had already been through a handful of lineups, but the true magic happened when Tanya Donelly left to start Belly and Kim's sister Kelley Deal joined on guitar, even though she barely knew how to play the thing. That lack of knowledge made for some highly creative riffs unimaginable to any virtuoso - "more guitar strategy than technique" - and her vocal harmonies with her twin sister were from another universe.
  3. When Kelley joined the band, she was working for a defense contractor in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio.
  4. Kelley called Neil Young's guitar solo on "Down by the River," consisting of one note 38 times over and over, "the best f___ing solo ever."
  5. Kim never explains any of her lyrics, and most of them are really tough to even attempt deciphering.
  6. The whole myth that Kim was trapped in Pixies is false, she says, and that it was Charles Thompson/Black Francis/Frank Black's band all along.
  7. The band broke up after Last Splash, but it was never anaything intentional. The whole thing just kind of collapsed via lack of communication, much of which led to a heroin addiction for Kelley, drugs and alcohol for Kim, a general retreat from the exhaustion of it all by bassist Josephine Wiggs, and a fight between Kim and alcoholic drummer Jim Macpherson that resulted in the two not speaking for 15 years.
  8. The Breeders have recently opened some dates on pop superstar Olivia Rodrigo's tour, including at Madison Square Garden.
  9. The Deal sisters still live in Dayton. Macpherson also lives there and is a carpenter.
  10. The three of them, plus Wiggs, still regularly practice together.

My favorite Breeders songs (including the album and year)

25. Freed Pig (Head to Toe EP, 1994, Sebadoh cover)
24. Divine Mascis (Last Splash 30th Annoversary, 2023)
23. Little Fury (Title TK, 2002)
22. London Song (Title TK, 2002)
21. I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You) (Divine Hammer single, 1993)
20. Lime House (Pod, 1991)
19. Happiness is a Warm Gun (Pod, 1991, Beatles cover)
18. Huffer (Title TK, 2002)
17. Saints (Last Splash, 1993)
16. Shocker in Gloomtown (Head to Toe EP, 1994, Guided by Voices cover)
15. Hellbound (Pod, 1991)
14. Invisible Man (Last Splash, 1993)
13. New Year (Last Splash, 1993)
12. Safari (Safari EP, 1992)
11. Do You Love Me Now Jr? (Divine Hammer single, 1993)
10. So Sad About Us (Safari EP, 1992, The Who cover)
09. When I Was a Painter (Pod, 1991)
08. Fortunately Gone (Pod, 1991)
07. Off You (Title TK, 2002)
06. Full On Idle (Title TK, 2002)
05. Do You Love Me Now? (Last Splash, 1993)
04. Drivin' on 9 (Last Splash, 1993)
03. No Aloha (Last Splash, 1993)
02. Divine Hammer (Last Splash, 1993)
01. Cannonball (Last Splash, 1993)

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