Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson played their first show together on Friday 19th June, 1992, in a snooker hall behind Warrington Rugby Club in the north of England. Two days later, they supported Nirvana in Dublin and Belfast, and then played at Glastonbury. Back in the US, after playing 27 sold-out shows, they made their way to San Francisco to record Last Splash.
Released on August 30th 1993, reviewers described Last Splash as, “effervescent,” “blistering,” and “incoherent.” At its centre is the infectiously appealing, instantly recognisable ‘Cannonball’. Propelled in part by the video directed by Kim Gordon and Spike Jonze, the song was voted Single Of The Year by NME. “An alt-rock classic” (Pitchfork’s Top 100 Records of 1990s) upon release, the album quickly attained Platinum status in the UK and the US.
Throughout Last Splash, The Breeders demonstrate their versatility and panache, seamlessly transitioning from the dreamy, melancholic melodies of Do You Love Me Now through the grungy, frenetic energy of SOS, to the downright creepy weirdness of “Mad Lucas.” Kim’s song-writing—with its authentic rebelliousness, atmospheric instrumentation, and playfully ironic lyrics—has the extraordinary ability to express the intangible, which, together with the undeniable talent and electric presence of Kelley, Josephine and Jim, created a powerful force of a band. It was also, in part, a family affair; as described by Kim, “here I was in Dayton, my sister in the band, my dad driving the RV on our first tour. My friend Jo. Jim from Dayton too. That’s what this album reminds me of — time spent with my family and friends.”
Last Splash was mixed at the legendary Record Plant in Sausalito, a labyrinth of dark carpeted hallways hung with the gold and platinum records of Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, and Jefferson Airplane. One morning, setting up a mix, the engineer accidentally erased the first 45 seconds of ‘Do You Love Me Now.’ Miraculously, a copy of the 2” tape had been made—mailed to Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis with an invitation to overdub guitar on ‘Divine Hammer’—and the engineer was able to rebuild the missing part, a painstaking process (before digital recording) that took seven days.
The album’s artwork—as memorable as its sound—was devised by Vaughan Oliver, the creative force behind the distinctive visual aesthetic at 4AD Records. His sleeve for ‘Cannonball’ perfectly embodies the playfulness, irreverence, and idiosyncrasy of the Breeders. Josephine recalls Vaughan’s initial brainstorming, sent via fax – a drawing of “a man’s testicle, alone—pushed through a piece of card to ensure its loneliness.” “He said he had tried it out that morning and ‘thought it looked super’ and he thinks it’s never been done before—I can’t imagine why not (?!)”
A defining album of the 90s, Last Splash turns 30 this year. To celebrate, the record has been remastered for the first time, using the original ½ inch analog tape, lovingly worked on by Kim, Benjamin Mumphrey, and Miles Showell at Abbey Road. The tape, consisting of final mixes, but un-sequenced and unmastered, was only recently rediscovered in the Warner Bros. archive, a discovery that has made possible this ultimate audiophile vinyl pressing, and also brought to light two unreleased tracks from the 1993 Last Splash recording sessions, a bonus which will delight fans.
The album has never sounded so good. Titled Last Splash (the 30th Anniversary Original Analog Edition), cut at half speed at Abbey Road, it now spans two 12” discs running at 45rpm. Also included is an exclusive one-sided etched 12” disc featuring the two “new” tracks: a song that Kim co-wrote with Black Francis titled ‘Go Man Go,’ and a different version of ‘Divine Hammer’ with lead vocals by J Mascis and titled, naturally enough, ‘Divine Mascis.’ For this special release, the late Vaughan Oliver’s iconic sleeve art has been gloriously reimagined by his long-time design partner Chris Bigg. A Japanese CD release will also be available.