There are some cult classics that could have been hits, and then there are albums like “Doolittle.” Released 25 years ago today, the sophomore effort from wily Boston space cadets Pixies was never going to shift major units, and the fact that it spent two weeks at No. 98 on the Billboard 200 is some kind of miracle. Sweet and melodic in spots, absolutely brutal in others, it’s the cryptic record about death and god that Black Flag and the Ventures might make should they ever find themselves on the same interstellar pleasure cruise. It’s brilliant, and it’s not for everyone. But in the pre-Nirvana alternative rock world of 1989, the album was heralded as a landmark -- a release that inspired and ultimately helped pave the way for a slew of bands that would become arena-filling, chart-topping megastars in the mid-'90s.
One guy who famously dug it was Kurt Cobain, and as Nirvana fans well know, the quiet-loud-quiet dynamic shifts found all over “Doolittle” set the template for much of “Nevermind.” Kurt’s affinity for this record has become a big part of its story, but the other subplots are just as interesting. In their prime, Pixies were like a freaky alt-rock version of the Fantastic Four, and here, their powers combine in some truly bizarre ways.