There’s a lot to like about Fast Man Raider Man. But then, there’s just plain a lot of it: two sides, 27 tracks, all clocking in at an hour and a half. So I wouldn’t be the first to suggest that there’s one great single album here — but that’s really not the kind of double disc it is. Black does include a few leftovers from last year’s Honeycomb sessions, his Nashville skyliner of a departure on which seasoned country and R&B session men led our Pixies hero to the heart of the Americana that’s always pumped through his art-damaged veins. And having proved he could hang on Music Row, he does invite a busload of friends and hired hands to join him in the studio, from Bobby Bare Jr., Marty Brown (who duets with him on a dark, twangy, heartfelt “Dirty Old Town”), Steve Cropper, Levon Helm, Al Kooper, Ian McLagan, and Spooner Oldham to Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, Bad Company’s Simon Kirke (?!), and Frank Black and the Catholics vets Rich Gilbert and Lyle Workman. The result isn’t as straightforwardly rootsy as Honeycomb: there’s enough skewed pop songcraft and rockist guitar riffing to merit an “eclectic” or at least a “varied.” But the disc does lack a center, as Black segues from the piano- and brass-embellished balladry of “Seven Days” to the bare acoustic strumming of “Raider Man” to the lushly produced Nick Cave–style foreboding of “The End of the Summer,” only to end that first disc with a joky, folky, shades-of-Black-Francis sing-along titled “I’m Not Dead (I’m in Pittsburgh).” No, it’s not the Pixies. But it’s Frank Black on his first real roll as a solo artist.
LOTS: Frank Black
FRANK BLACK + REID PALEY | Wellfleet Beachcomber, 1120 Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet | August 18 | 508.349.6055 | FRANK BLACK + FOO FIGHTERS | Wang Center, Tremont St, Boston | August 22 | 617.228.6000