Now at an age to legally rent a car in the United States, we wish the Pixies’ debut full-length, Surfer Rosa (born March 21, 1988), a happy 25th birthday. The band’s stellar first release, Come On Pilgrim, maxed out its chart strength when it hit No. 30 in December 1987. While the Pixies would go on to reign over college radio, Surfer Rosa would only reach No. 3 on May 20, 1988 and—cringe with me now—Ziggly Marley’s Conscious Party topped off the chart. Yeah, I know, Conscious Party would win a Grammy but Ziggy Marley would also generously be named one of the top one-hit-wonders of the ’80s. The Pixies, on the other hand, went on to become indie rock royalty. Let’s look at the chart:

CMJ Chart For The Week Of May 20, 1988


TW
ARTIST & TITLE
LABEL
1 ZIGGY MARLEY Conscious Party Virgin
2 MORRISSEY Viva Hate Sire
3 PIXIES Surfer Rosa 4AD
4 SMITHEREENS Green Thoughts Capitol
5 THE FALL The Frenz Experiment Beggars Banquet
6 TALKING HEADS Naked Sire
7 PETER MURPHY Love Hysteria Beggars Banquet
8 BUTTHOLE SURFERS Hairway To Steven Touch And Go
9 SOUL ASYLUM Hang Time A&M
10 MIGHTY LEMON DROPS World Without End Chrysalis
11 BILLY BRAGG Help Save The Youth Of America [EP] Elektra
12 NAKED RAYGUN Jettison Caroline
13 THE CHURCH Starfish Arista
14 TIMBUK 3 Eden Alley I.R.S.
15 THOMAS DOLBY Aliens Ate My Buick EMI
16 TRACY CHAPMAN Tracy Chapman Elektra
17 MIDNIGHT OIL Diesel And Dust Columbia
18 THROWING MUSES House Tornado Sire
19 WOODENTOPS Wooden Foot Cops on The Highway Rough Trade
20 Live At The Whisky A Go-Go Elektra

Surfer Rosa ushered in four straight years of Pixies domination: Almost exactly a year later on May 19, 1989, Doolittle, the now-vital cornerstone in many an indie nerd’s record collection, would make up for lost chart time and bump XTC from the top of the charts; Bossanova, easily the band’s weakest album (although that’s not saying much), parked itself at No. 1 for 3 weeks in September, 1990; the finer Trompe Le Monde would sit at No. 2 for seven weeks in late ’91, trailing only behind the twelve-weeks-at-No. 1 death grip that Nevermind had on the charts—still an uncontested CMJ record.

The Steve Albini-produced Rosa was neater and less abrasive than Come On Pilgrim, featuring a tightened version of “Vamos” and “Gigantic,” sadly the rare Pixies’ song to feature Kim Deal as lead vocalist. And over a decade later “Where Is My Mind?,” never released as a single, would gain a new-found popularity after being prominently featured in the end credits of Fight Club.

And after a seemingly endless five years circuit of reunion tours, including a round of Doolittle played straight through, a forgettable 2004 single, “Bam Thwok” (which never made the charts), and the made-to-be-hocked-on-eBay grossly collectible art box set Minotaur, Surfer Rosa is what solidified the Pixies as a tour de force in the pivitol pre-alt rock years that helped usher in a era of trashing guitars.