The Stone Temple Pilots' choice of Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, aka Black Francis, as an opening act for their comeback tour is mighty telling. Despite the Pilots' success during the '90s, the cognoscenti always saw the players as grunge-rock pretenders no matter how many times lead singer Scott Weiland practiced hypodermic acupuncture on himself. Not so Black Francis, who's been the real deal since his days fronting the Pixies, among the most influential of all modern-rock acts. And even though the Pixies reunion of a few years ago wasn't as inspirational as many fans had hoped, he remains an impressive artist whose two most recent solo releases, 2007's Bluefinger and this year's Svn Fngrs, are consistently enjoyable. The Pilots no doubt hoped that if they placed him on the bill, some of the critical goodwill he's built up would rub off on them. But while he has plenty of credibility left, the stuff isn't that easy to share.
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