Last updated: 04/21/2005 10:18:42 PM
(written by Jason Pettigrew: Alternative Press)
Hailed by some as "an aggressive new alternative-rock Frankenstein," Pigface grew to become a fierce juggernaut with a malleable line-up that could be as limited as the individual members’ personal phone books, or as packed with possibilities as the Yellow Pages. Egos where willingly surrendered for the greater good: the onstage fire-eater at a Pittsburgh show was just as important as the participation of then-fledgling Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. Fans going to the shows expecting a rote regurgitation of the stuff found on the debut 1991 Pigface document, Gub, were left screaming and shaking their sweaty bodies in wild abandon, or scratching their heads down to skull-surface trying to make sense of it all.
Now, after four studio releases, three remix collections, four live albums & 10 tours comes the double-disc collection The Best of Pigface. The first disc sports a bevy of ‘face-offs remastered for your stringent high-fidelity needs, including "Asphole" (starring Skinny Puppy’s charismatic frontman Ogre), "Suck" (the taut minimalist groove worked by Trent Reznor), the brooding "Empathy" (intoned by Swans founder Michael Gira) and the Chicago rock summit "Point Blank," featuring electronic-rock icons Chris Connelly and Paul Barker playing alongside Big Black/Shellac founder Steve Albini. The second disc features previously unreleased tracks starring the likes of Pixies founders Frank Black and Joey Santiago ("Dog"), Dean Ween ("Mickey"), and other aural ephemera in the form of interviews, radio station ID’s and radically reworked demo ideas.
At close inspection, it’s obvious that Pigface has become much more than the convenient, yet dubious tag of "super group." A strategy for the creation of uncompromising music, Pigface has been a farm team (belly dancer Christine Petro added some color to U2’s PopMart tour), as well as a launch pad for underground mavens to reinvent themselves. The collective fostered the aesthetic growth of former Silverfish screamer Lesley Rankine (heard here on "Chickasaw", and "Ten Ground and Down") into the sultry grooves of Ruby. Ditto for the career of former Gaye Byker On Acid Mary Hoxley, who later ascended from "grebo" obscurity to British dance-rock royalty in Apollo 440. Pigface also acted as a rampart where established musicians-such as Tool’s Danny Carey and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Michael "Flea" Balzary –could stretch out in ways their parent bands would not let them. The communal spirit of the music was also enough of a force to make the music industry adjust its cloudy spectacles to take notice (reportedly, the last word in Skinny Puppy’s American Recordings contract is "Pigface"). But don’t think for a nanosecond that all that activity and accomplishment was only felt onstage in a self-congratulatory back-slapping marathon: Just prior to his signing to the nothing Records label, Marilyn Manson launched an ad hoc ensemble names Mrs. Scabtree, that featured other like-minded Ft. Lauderdale, Florida freaks. When pressed for details, Manson described the group as "a Pigface-kind of thing." Time has proven that Pigface was an idea that has ignited both musicians and audiences alike.