100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #43 The Pixies – Monkey Gone To Heaven

Released : 1989

It’s pretty pointless now, but compare and contrast as the exam question of the time requested the British and American undergrounds of the latter part of the decade;  both had diverged, with differing role models and whilst over here there was a pocket of noise rock led by the likes of Spacemen 3 and Loop, Boston’s Pixies smouldered with a power likely to blow the doors of the Princess Charlotte or the Camden Falcon clean off.

They were less than a secret by the time Monkey’s Gone To Heaven arrived and the cliquey yet wonderful 4AD label never seemed like the right place for them, but in Charles Thompson, IV there was a singer who combined a startling mania with words stripped from Hebrew numerology. If there are many more affecting or famous lines of the decade than “And if the devil is six, then god is seven”, especially dragged out as it was to the point of wrenched madness, then they belong to a different world.

By now the phases and tricks – quiet/loud, sad/sadder – which made it so startling are familiar devices, like a trusted clock you use to set your watch . However the song’s compactness also adds to a sense of economy, like the world ending, but only on a budget. Sadly, the whole human race is now much closer to heaven than any new good advice can tell us.


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