Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ten Frank Black Singalongs, Song 7: Nadine

I remember picking up a promo copy of Show Me Your Tears at CDepot in College Park, MD, a few weeks before it was released, for something like five bucks. I felt a little dirty about the whole affair - here I was, driving home with an advance copy cd of something I planned on buying anyway, hole punched in the UPC and "Not For Sale" stamped on the cover, with the realization that this was a noir heart-on-sleeve classic set in a beautiful rock and country framework, with some of the best solos and licks you'll hear on any Frank Black and the Catholics album. And I got it for practically nothing. I couldn't wait to read the reviews.

I should have known. The critics had contrasting opinions. Popmatters said that the album represents some of FB & The Catholics' best work, and Rolling Stone gave it 3 1/2 stars, but Pitchfork, whose reviewer opened with the absurd anti-rock plea, "Pixies! Do Not Reunite! Please!", gave it a 5.3. The album went largely unnoticed at the time.

Now, time is mostly a nasty, unforgiving asshole that ruins our physical selves and brings us ever closer to death, but the one good thing about it is that it reveals the classics to us over its course. Initial reviews are often mixed for albums, but in the end, the critics, having earned a buck, are often proved wrong, and artistic merit is redeemed. Take Weezer's Pinkerton, for example, which was initially called "aimless" and "juvenile," and is now widely considered an alternative/indie milestone. Hopefully the same justice will be reserved for Show Me Your Tears.

Revisit the album's opener, the primal Nadine, with the volume cranked way the hell up. Frank Black said of this song, "Maybe NADINE is a sexual celebration, but man, I get so sad when I think about her, way back when, ah fuck, whatever happened to me and her?"

And in those two words lie the heart of blues, rock, and country: "whatever happened?" On Show Me Your Tears, Frank Black stretches that question artfully across 13 songs.

Tell me what you think.

Frank Black - Nadine (mp3)

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