Frank Black Fastman Raiderman

Roots-y, but a measure edgier than last year’s decidedly wood-grained Honeycomb CD, Frank Black’s latest effort is an exhaustive study in creative self satisfaction. With the rightfully deified Pixies in lucrative, semi-regular rotation on the comeback concert circuit, Charles Thompson’s solo entity is free to pursue its master’s whims without any concern for commercial viability or the expectations of others. Luckily, Black remains a gifted songwriter who, though given to issue an album a year (or, as in this case, a double album), has never been in the habit of turning out mediocre releases. Fastman Raiderman continues that tradition of quality, offering up 27 tracks that rarely canter above mid-tempo but cover a lot of lyrical and textural territory nonetheless. A few numbers are holdovers from the Honeycomb sessions deemed too jaunty for that release. Most others were recorded with a similarly stacked deck of veteran musicians, this time including the Band’s Levon Helm, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, Simon Kirk of Free and Bad Company fame and even ’60s folk pop pioneer P.F. Sloan. Fans still holding their breath for another Teenager of the Year ought to come up for air long enough to accept that at least so long as the Pixies remain active, Black seems bound to stay tethered to the acoustic with his Nashville and L.A studio pals never more than a speed-dial away. (Back Porch)