NME announced today that the Pixies will embark on a 'Doolittle' tour in conjunction with the 20th year anniversary of that album.
This news makes the Pixies the latest band—following in the footsteps of everyone from Public Enemy to Sonic Youth to Slint—to play one of their classic albums in its entirety.
To resurrect an album and to adhere to a—gasp—sequence in the age of singles and iPod shuffle seems a strange and slightly anachronistic endeavor. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea; it's like a return to AOR (Album Oriented Rock, for those of you too to know this term), except within a live context and with other fans as fellow witnesses.
I wonder, however, if the album format—either recorded or live-is too contradictory to our contemporary listening habits. Might not we prefer a carefully crafted set list; one that would prevent too many slow songs from occurring in a row or ensure a variety of tempos? And what if all of our favorite songs are spread out over a few different records? I mean, who wants to hear those contemplative songs that don't sound as good without the dulcimer and horn section that were added during the recording?
I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here. After all, I'm more than disappointed if an artist turns out to only have one good song on an album. Or, if an album is mostly filler in order to prop up the one hit track. To me, that's not a statement, it's a hiccup.
But getting back to Doolittle, it certainly is my favorite Pixies album, and the one that broke them out of the college-band bubble. Naturally, I'd have to give myself a refresher course on the less obvious tracks, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love them anew. In fact, one reason I'd like to see the Pixies perform the whole of the album would be to get a glimpse into the process, or into the cohesion of the songs, one that I might have missed the first time around.
Perhaps these resurrected albums, met with new perspective and adoration by both fans and the bands alike, will mark a return to album-making and album appreciation. Either that or we'll feel a momentary nostalgia for the old LPs, cassette tapes, and CDs but then go and make a mix on our iPods that's just a collection of singles and our favorite songs.
For about how long do you listen to an album in it's entirety and in the intended sequence before you get in there and mess with it? Thoughts on the 'Doolittle' tour or bands playing their classic albums? Please chime in.