Frank Black "gets the band back together" for his first album sans Catholics since 1996
A man in a dark suit, hat and even darker sunglasses walks into a soul-food diner. The waitress saunters over as he sits at the counter. “You got any fried chicken?” he asks.
“Best damn chicken in the state.”
“Bring me four fried Chickens and a Coke.”
“You want chicken wings or chicken legs?”
“Four fried chickens and a Coke. And some dry, white toast, please.” She goes back to the kitchen and says to the dishwasher, “We got a honky out there that looks a Hasidic diamond merchant, like he’s from the CIA or something.”
“What’s he want to eat?”
“Four whole fried chickens and a Coke… and some white bread, dry, with nothing on it.”
“Shiyittt, it’s Frank Black!”
OK. So maybe the former Pixies frontman is still a little too bizzaro-macabre to be a Blues Brother, but—just like Belushi and Aykroyd—he’s enlisted a legendary crew of Memphis/Muscle Shoals session all-stars to back him up: Spooner Oldham, David Hood and (former Blues Brothers sideman) Steve Cropper, plus Nashville guitarist/songwriter Buddy Miller. And for good measure Honeycomb was produced by Jon Tiven (Wilson Pickett, B.B. King). So what we’ve got here is a real-deal country, soul and rock ’n’ roll album from a pioneer of freaked-out, left-of-the-dial ’80s/’90s alternative.
At first listen, I was skeptical, but man if that Black Francis doesn’t have a velvet-sweet croon. Which, after hearing some of his work with the Catholics, isn’t totally unexpected. But Honeycomb goes a step further with some of Black’s most mature songwriting to date and a chilled-out sound that plays like the cure to a hangover after a night of Pixies-soundtracked debauchery.