Charles Thompson IV, 51, also known as Frank Black— formerly known as Black Francis— has finally been granted a song in his namesake, joining his fellow cult heroes Alex Chilton and Grant Hart. After ascending to indie-rock royalty as the potato-shaped Pixies frontman, he infamously faxed his bandmates their walking papers and quickly released two mammoth solo albums, 1993’s Frank Black and 1994’s incomparable Teenager of the Year. (As is tradition, these masterpieces have received only a fraction of the worship they deserve, but that’s another story.)
There are few better candidates for a Black Francis tribute song than Elmhurst garage-rockers The Orwells. The two-and-a-half minute dedication, like many of the band’s songs, has a very Pixie-esque flavor. However, it’s very clearly an Orwells song, right down to the celebration of youthful debauchery (“We should hit it / I think they called the cops”) and the catchy, melodic guitar lines.
“Felt long overdue that we paid him some direct respect,” guitarist Matt O’Keefe explains. “We’ve been ripping him off for years, hopefully this chips away at the massive debt we’ve got to him.”
Fans of The Orwells are hungry as hell - It’s been two years since the solid Disgraceland came out, and one can only spin “Let it Burn” and “Who Needs You” so many times. Thankfully "Black Francis" and the other three singles from their forthcoming LP Terrible Human Beings (due out February 17 via Canvasback/Atlantic), promise more lighthearted ass-kicking is on the way.
It’s about time.