Frank Black Is Dead…Long Live Black Francis

So, I’m a big fan of adjectives.  The right descriptive word can perfectly sum up someone’s nature more clearly than any biography ever could.  And the adjective that best describes Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV would have to be mercurial.

Mercurial can be best defined as “changeable; volatile; fickle; flighty; erratic” – and Thompson, the man formerly and currently known as Black Francis (with about a decade and a half in the middle performing as Frank Black), fits the bill.

And the mercurial Black Francis is always working and never predictable. 

This summer’s surprise includes live dates in Europe with his epic band, The Pixies, to correspond with a box set re-release of all five Pixies studio albums – Come On Pilgrim (1987), Surfer Rosa (1988), Doolittle (1989), Bossanova (1990), and Trompe le Monde (1991).

Francis’s extensive solo career discography continues to grow – his upcoming release of a silent movie soundtrack for the 1920 German expressionist film Der Golem: Wie Er In Welt Kam is a typical retreat into non-commercial territory (for a free download of “The Flower Song” from that soundtrack, click here).

His output since the Pixies days includes an astounding 16 releases, not necessarily meant for the masses, but each received with unwavering enthusiasm from his hard-core faithful.  The last of these, Svn Fngrs, included a musical collaboration with his wife Violet Clark, that has expanded into a full-fledged project under the moniker Grand Duchy.

Grand Duchy's Black Francis & Violet Clark

Grand Duchy's Black Francis & Violet Clark

LiveDaily caught up with Francis and Clark to discuss this spring’s release of their debut album, Petit Fours, and the challenges of bringing three of their five children with them on their recent West Coast mini-tour.  Looks like a few dates scheduled in July will lead to more logistical issues as they get farther away from their home base of Portland.

If you haven’t checked in on Black Francis since the days of “Where Is My Mind?”, Grand Duchy offers a great opportunity to see what the man has been up to.  Heck, even if you have been following his career all these years, the music of Petit Fours provides a unique glimpse into the new territory that he is exploring in partnership with his wife.

And if none of this quite resonates for you in the way that properly communicates the mercurial nature of the man, don’t forget about his contribution to this year’s most interesting release to date.  Always working, never predictable, and consistently great.

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~ by acm213 on June 1, 2009.

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