Pere Ubu have been called "avant garage" for their mix of straightforward rock chugalug, weird as hell synth bloop/bleeps and singer David Thomas' disturbing whale-like fat warble of a singing voice. Sounds like he's about to puke or cry half the time, the nervous arty guy! They sprouted out of an old Cleveland band called Rocket From The Tombs (not Rocket From The Crypt!), from which the Dead Boys also springed. As of this writing, I'm probably still missing some EPs, live albums and enhanced CDs, but don't keep your eyes peeled because I have no plans to ever purchase them. Have you seen CD rates nowadays? I have no interest in spending that kind of money! So for crying out loud, please unpeel your eyes; you're making me sick just through the Internet with them grossass peeled eyes. Now then, here's what I think of Lere "Ubu" Hagman!
I honestly don't think it's quite a 10. In fact, an eight and a half is more whereabouts I'd put it. But rounding up is the right of every American and I consider myself the most American American in the American States of America. Let's discuss this matter!
The first Pere Ubu album has some incredibly DIFFERENT things going on, almost like a cross between the progressive rock of the early 70s and the punk rock that rebelled against it in the late 70s. Yet, it's NEITHER progressive NOR punk rock. It's something altogether new and lovely! The songs are very catchy things, similar in sound to 60s rock, new wave pop, dub reggae and even, okay I admit it, a little bit of midtempo punk. But then they fuck everything up with weird bassoon-sounding crazy synthesizer noises piled on top! I don't know if there was any band besides The Fall who went this far out of their way to make their catchy, accessible songs completely unlistenable to FM radio fans who might very well be able to appreciate them if they weren't so irritating! I mean, the goddamned album starts off with a 15-second blast of synthesizer/guitar feedback! You should have seen the look on my Puppy's face!!! Actually, to be honest, the whole album intrigued my little hairy guy (dog, not sex gun). So many weird little noises kept popping out, he couldn't help but look up at the stereo speakers every couple of minutes just to make sure no mischievous little elf was in there banging on spoons, throwing bottles around and inviting David Thomas to sing lead.
Summary: 1978 was the year punk broke, and the year Pere Ubu broke bottles. Any fan of "experimental" rock music needs to pick this one up. Aside from one or two tunes that don't seem to go anywhere at all, you're gonna find a plethora of excellent, odd little post-punk (in 1978???) classics. I appreciate that which is clever, especially if it's catchy too! The Pere Ubus are a naked man of fun!
A fist in the stomach…An incredible mix of punk, new wave, garage, avantgarde and concrete music. David Thomas is a devastating singer; Tony Maimone and Scott Krauss form one of the greatest rhythmic section in the rock history; Allen Ravenstine revolutionizes the use of the keyboards (with noises and atonal melodies); Tom Herman, at last, plays guitar in a very personal way: he combines the rock ‘n roll style of Chuck Berry with industrial resonances...
The result is timeless...and give a sense of disorientation...”Non Aligned Pact” is an overwhelming orgy. “Modern Dance” is a glacial funky with a break of disastrous distortions. “Laughing” start with a free jazz session (!), while “Street Waves” is another great rock ‘n roll with cacophonies and various noises. “Sentimental Journey” is pure avantgarde.
The Modern Dance is a flight over the abyss!!!
But Humor Me is one of the greatest songs ever written. I don't know if I can do justice to it's pain and brilliance. Seriously, I'm not joking. unbelievable. The album's practically worth it for that alone.
About 25 of us were in the backyard yesterday cooking up a shoe tree when suddenly my uncle Remus brought out his cheap Radio Shack tape recorder and started recording Pere Ubu, who were performing a live set in 1976 on the other side of picnic table. The band was literally on fire that night yesterday in 1976, playing all their early hits like "30 Seconds Over Tokyo," "Life Stinks" and "Final Solution" (three from Modern Dance, The, four from Robinal Trower) before regaling the Prindle clan and our neighbors the Kuklux clan with a few otherwise unavailable rock and roll originals and spirited, boring covers of The Stooges' "Let Me Be A Dog," The Seeds' "Pushing Me Too Far" and The Velvet Underground's "Heroine." Go Cut Creator, Go!
That's what LL Cool J shouted at the band as they continued their riotous Cleveland assault on the senses, specifically smell because Dave Thomas showers with budget-priced used water. Throughout the audiotape, and sure the sound is muffled, but you can hear British-voiced punk rock people in the crowd saying hilarious things like "You know, when I walked in, I knew I was gonna see somebody totally boring. And I did! Isn't that amazing?" and "Yeah, the band seems to be lacking a bit of energy this evening." But Pere Ubu released it anyway! I love bands with senses of self-humor. Who were these damned punk rockers? Are they the same guys who keep repeating the mantra "Tay-Day-Um, Tay-Day-Um, Tedium" at another point on the tape? If so, how on earth did the tape survive throughout the years and finally end up in David Thomas's crusty brown pockets?
Also, another reason you'll totally want to own this is that it has Peter Laughner on it. I don't know what he does on it, but he was still in the band, so maybe that's him making whooshy synth noises or playing the guitar or something. Either way, you can't spell "Laugh" without "Peter Laughner"! As most fans know, Peter quit the band and tragically died shortly therafter, right around the time Aunt Dad brought out her trademark dessert, the Fudge Pudding Penis. Looks like fudge - tastes like a penis!
I can't believe this recording and band were pre-Fall. They sound a LOT like The Fall in some of these. These early songs were so great and DARK!!! Good old The Fall. Unlike the summer, it's great and DARK!!!
Although Donna Summers is great and dark too, if you're going by skin pigment or menstrual flow.
MAN, what a disappointment after that first one. This one is just a bunch of halfassed nonsense - dicking around, noise making, pretentious goofy crap with hardly any melodies at all. I'm honestly very fond of exactly two of the ten tracks - "I Will Wait" and "Drinking Wine Spodyody." Both are very catchy. Some of the other "aural experiments" have interesting parts. But not nearly enough to sustain interest throughout the record. And wailing David Thomas's annoying vocal approach is already wearing thin. Fuck this and all other albums ever recorded!
Now they do. The taste maker pseud mag editors agree on the legends they will sell and a bad review is buried. An immature mistake by someone who couldn't read Dipstick Traipses because that torture wasn't yet conceived but now he can see the ballet.
So I listened to Dub Housing about fifty times in ten years. I liked the cover better than the music, I think. I didn't dislike it. In fact I could groove on Codex and Caligari's Mirror, but anything less than 390 degrees part II wouldn't satisfy me. I listened to the D Thomas solo album Variations on a Theme more often than that (a great album, by the way) (perhaps I have the title wrong? Theme? I haven't heard THAT in 10 years. Not too mention an hour of Thomas solo accapella in a N. Hollywood radio station 1984(?)85(?) I let some jerk off Misfits (of all the stupidities) fan borrow. No, worse than that, I FORCED IT ON HIM. My one of a kind impossible to replace cassette that shit for brains never returned to me I HOPE he burns in hell and I WOULD give up cigarettes for a week to have back).
Then I listened to it zero times for six or seven years because I didn't have a working turntable.
Now I have it on CD. I say it's a great album. A twenty-year slow-burning fuse. Now it's there when you need it. A reason to live.
My question is; Why hang out with Mayonnaise? and What kind of Dork would brag about knowing Johnny Rotten?
Also it has a great great album cover. Fits the album's sound BEAUTIFULLY. To all potential listeners be warned, this is a tough nut to crack but every song can be catchy if you let it! And it is definitely dark, surreal, underground and creepy.
Except "Blow Daddy-o," which is absolutely worthless. "I Will Wait" is crap, too. The album gets a 9 on your scale, IMO. Never a 10, that's reserved for the debut. Not that you have to change your grade, but this album just needs to be packaged with a "hard listen" warning.
The band on here this one album has started to move into even more abstractical musitictical territories, with most of the melodies hinging on a bass line and some off-color guitar cranklings – meantime, the keyboardist just makes noise and the singer sounds like a fat child molester "getting' it on" with Gary Coleman like Gordon Fell did that time. The best songs sound really smart and exciting – loose as hell like The Fall (yay!) while still allowing a nice singalongable melody to squeeze through the ruckus jams – but too much of the record veers into experimental know-nothing. Screwing around with noises that aren't terribly interesting to listen to. "A Small Dark Cloud" for example. Nothing happens there. It's small, yes, and maybe slightly dark but it's certainly not a cloud. No rain comes out of it or anything. Except the rain of tears you experience as you survey the dibilitated state of our once strong nation of Islam. This self-indulgent streak would get even worse when Mayonnaise Thompson joined the band just one year later. Hold on! Let me go get my Book of Hilarious Shark Jokes! Wait right here!
Okay I'm back. Why did the shark cross the road?
To get to the other tide!!!!!
An archival collection, nonlp singles & b sides 1975-1980. Contains the incredible Ubu classic "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" and parallels their career shift from experimental rockers to smooth poppers, which is weird considering that they were actually still experimental rockers in 1980 and didn't become smooth poppers for another 9 years or so. Isn't that weird? Man, that's just crazy odd!
I'm still freaked out by it. I can't get over how just plain bizarre it is. Jeez, I mean. Hoo!
I have nothing more to report. The album has lots of good songs on it, but a few that are so listener-friendly, they can only be considered dippasointing condisering Ure Pubu's flank-grabbing nut sack of funny noises usually wielded like a battle-axe during those economically tight Carter years.
Remember that show Carter Country? I don't. Did they show tits?
Basically, if you decided to make a CD with six tracks from Terminal Tower and six tracks from The Modern Dance, you would have - absolutely and unquestionably - one of the great rock records, a record chock-full of tremendous songwriting, revolutionary and unique experimentation, and searingly intense performances.
So how's about this:
1 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
2 Heart of Darkness
3 Final Solution
4 Cloud 149
5 Untitled ("The Modern Dance" - alternate version)
7 Non-Alignment Pact
8 Street Waves
9 Chinese Radiation
10 Life Stinks
11 Real World
12 Humor Me
Now...THAT is an album. I think I need to get the rest of Terminal Tower before I review it.
Mayo Thompson from The Red Crayola has now joined the band, and the music has become experimental to the point of not even really being pop or rock music at all. More than half of these songs are aggravating little bloopy smishity smish avant jazz type deals that purposely never go anywhere (except for the occasional foray into Annoyingasshitville). Most be some sort of artistic statement. At very least, it's an attempt to separate themselves from "normal" pop/rock conventions by defying laws of 4/4 rhythms, melodies, reasons to exist, etc. They say it best themselves with the song title "Lost In Art."
I say it best with my song title "Please Stop Making That Irritating Noise, You Fucking Assholes."
When they actually DO get around to playing music ("Go" and "Birdies" and... hmm. That's really about it!), they sound as appealingly quirky and wired as on their first album. The other "songs" are a poopshoot though. Sometimes you find yourself mesmerized by their repetitive key-jabbing, noise-flapping and cymbal-smashing. Other times, you fall asleep, miss your job interview and wind up a homeless, worthless loser like Marilyn Manson will be in a couple of years.
This is an outlet for discussion, so let's discuss something important. Here's what I'd like to discuss: Hate. Why is it so goddamned hard to control our own personal hate? I get so bitter about the stupidest things. A guy with a mohawk makes me bitter. WHY? WHY SHOULD I CARE??? A nerdy guy who talks about himself too much makes me so angry I trash him behind his back endlessly. WHY DO I CARE? Why can't I just ignore it and be happy about all the good things in my life? Now it's your turn. YOU TELL ME ABOUT HATE AND WHY IT'S SO HARD TO CONTROL. Because I ain't no frickin' social scientist and/or proctologist (though I do enjoy sticking my finger up guys' asses as a little joke for laughs and such).
And you, in particular, Mr. Prindle, are more guilty of that than most- I love your writing style, but 90% of the time, your taste in music is totally fucked. I'm not going to bother defending Marilyn Manson, Genesis, Crowded House, or Monster Magnet, but I will say that I love them, and when you go talking about what shit they are and then practically deifying stuff I can't stand like The Ramones and Kiss, that hurts, confuses, and irritates me.
Not that I'm asking you to stop, of course, that's a risk I take when I choose to read music criticism. If I were saying this instead of writing it, it would be with the utmost cheerfully neutral geniality.
And you actually sort of liked a couple of Mr. TP songs, gotta give you credit for that. I can't believe you didn't like "Feline Privates," though.
And I do like it when you criticize Limp Bizkit.
I also hate being told what I should and shouldn't like based on some unspoken musical creed that all of the cool people in the music world have adopted. I shouldn't like Depeche Mode or the Pet Shop Boys because they're wussy synth-pop. I shouldn't like Steely Dan because they're old-fogey '70s AOR. I shouldn't like Peter Gabriel because he's a pretentious old fart. I shouldn't like They Might Be Giants because they're nerds with nasal voices. I shouldn't like Radiohead because they're a highly-rated critic's darling. Blah blah blah. The fact remains that I love all of these artists, and it really irks me that the supposedly-educated reviewing community is telling me why I shouldn't.
Finally, people annoy me who seem to hate music chronically. I listen to every album I buy or borrow with an open mind and try to assess its good points, but there seem to be some people who go straight for an album's bad points and wind up hating 90% of the friggin' music they listen to. Why listen to music if you're going to be completely pessimistic about it? Isn't it more fun to like things than to hate them?
Unfortunately things aren't that simple. If we want to truely understand the situation we must look at it from all sides. We must realise the fact that the muslim religion does not condone violence, most muslim countries are incredibly poor and the majority of the people are uneducated (and probably don't understand their religion), the governments of these countries do not follow islamic laws and are corrupt do to greed and fear of losing power, islamic terrorists counter the fundamental basis of their religion.
So we shouldn't hate osama bin laden? Of course we should! I believe human society should come together and hate child molesters, senseless murderers, men who rape their 12 year old daughters, etc. And (once unquestionable proof is provided) we should BRUTALLY destroy them in creative ways!
My point is that when we see people (maralyn manson, britney spears, the cast of friends, ally macbeal, fred durst, etc.) doing things that we find completely assanon we (myself included) only look at the bad aspects and this can cause the extreme emotion of hate. But if we CHOOSE to act in an enlightened manner and rethink the situation in a logical way we realize that there is no reason to have such destructive emotions when thinking about something so insignificant. Unfortunately acting in an enlightened way in the face of strong emotions requires a lot of effort so I suggest that you save your enlightened thoughts for important issues and go on hating insignificant things (like the god damned car commercial i just fucking saw. Ford can suck my fucking siphilis infested dick for thinking that im stupid enough to find their mother fucking comercials funny. FUCK ford trucks FUCK THEM UP THEIR STUPID EXAUST PIPES. FUCK THEM!!!!!)
carbona not glue is an AWESOME FUCKING SONG, yet theres only like 5 chords and 25 words, and its still awesome and fun to listen to
This one's just as noise-reliant as the last one, but tight rhythms at least give the surrounding noise less of an abstract, so-far-off-the-cuff-it's-flying-across-the-room-and-poking-some-guy-in-the-ear feeling. David sounds like he's completely out of his mind, yelping out what I guess he would consider vocal "melodies" (and others would consider the sing-songy jibberish of a guy who talks to rocks). And yes, there are more of what you might call "MUSICAL IDEAS" this time around, from the neato bass line of "Petrified" to the creepy repetitive vacuum cleaner noise of "Stormy Weather" around the mailbox to the ridiculously cartoonish "Big Ed's Used Farms" right on down the big smelly hill of marijuana to the wicked cool Asian-sounding vibe/xylophone-type theme in "A Day Such As This." Certainly not every single weirdo idea will appeal to the general population, but at least it sounds like they're trying to create art in the form of pop/rock music again, rather than just all making swishy, dumb noises at the same time so Knitting Factory patrons will consider them worthy of note.
Speaking of personal bitterness, what's with those Knitting Factory douchebags? John Zorn really isn't that interesting a human being. Bill Laswell? Sure! He produced a Ramones album! MJ Harris? Hell yeah! He was in Napalm Death during their grindiest of grindcore days! But John Zorn? Isn't he just some dirty old man who farts into his instrument and nobs every starstruck Japanese girl he can get his hands on? Sure he is. Let's accept this unconfirmed accusation and move on to my brilliant, incisive The Tenement Year review.
Boring indie rock band plays generic melodies you've heard a million times before. Piles synthesizer noises on top. Pretends it's doing something interesting. It's not. NOT AT ALL. Very sad attempt to rekindle the anarchic rockin' buzzin' magic of their debut. But there's no mystical forces at work here. Just gutless and creatively empty musicians, a guy making a bunch of senseless racket on a stupid electronic machine and David Thomas hemming and quivering away on top. The few times that they strike riches ("George Had A Hat" and "Miss You" especially), it almost seems like an accident.
Why do critics like this album so much? To me, this just sounds like American Everyband Circa 1987 with irritating crap sprinkled all over it. Are my ears simply a figment of my imagination?
Tenement Year Blows.
No longer even pretending to be avant-garde, DT here presents PU as a straightforward pop/rock band. Like Bossanova-era Pixies but much less interesting and more predictable! Like, the last Pererererererererererer Ubu album was like the Bodeans or some generic guitary crap, and this one is like Crowded House or some generic smooth keyboardy slick crap. Still, DT shows that his PMAs haven't DITD, because several of these RGSs are RGSs!!!
I changed my mind; it sucks. Starts off tasty as a patootie with shining pop gems aflutter in the audial breeze, but the entire second half (aside from the excellent final track!) should be thrown off a cliff and then, as it lies bleeding to death in the canyon, a guy should walk up and kick it in its shitpop balls.
Mmmm, Shitpop Balls. Isn't that that candy that killed the little fuckhead from the Life Cereal commercial?
Or am I thinking of Skittles?
More like SHITtles, if you ask me!!!
That's not true. I actually like Skittles quite a bit.
I guess the album is okay.
Screw those Life cereal commercials. "Unless they're WEIRD, your kids will eat it!" What the hell kind of a slogan is that? Were they trying to alienate every child in America who didn't happen to like cereal that looked and tasted like a bunch of cut-up tree branches?
Same style as the last album, but slightly more consistent with its smooth poppy throwaway goodness. I can't imagine any oldtimey Pere Ubu fans being too much into this. There's just not much going on aside from some catchy singalong melodies every once in a blue moon. It's kind of the same sensation as watching a romantic comedy. It may make you smile and keep you occupied for a short period of time, but you're not going to remember it an hour after it's over.
But then again, most Fall fans started hating them once they got slick and I grew to LOVE all that pop/dance crap (btw, The Fall hasn't been slick for about seven or eight years now, in case you were all worried and curious about it). So I'm a-supposer that your enjoyment of these Pere Ubu records is going to be based much more on how much you ALREADY like the band than on the actual quality of the work, which I personally think is pretty negligible. Again, some of the melodies activate the emotional sensors of the brain, but not as well as primo U2 or something could.
I'll certainly give 'em that they try to keep their sound diverse, alternating between accordians, heavy grunge guitar, jazzy Robert Quine-like noodle guitars, keyboard flourishes, ad infinity! Nice mix too, with lots of different interesting elements popping in and out of the mix -- not in a haphazard 'Pere Ubu'-type way, but a well-produced Heartbeat City sort of major label-sounding thingamajig failed hit single manner. So even when the melody is nothing special, it SEEMS like something speckle!
Let me break the action for a second -- I was just at the Barnes & Noble (or, as Jello Biafra "hilariously" calls it, "Buns & Nubile") and I ran across a new book by Robert Christgau. That man is a fuck. A worthless fuck. Read what he says about Unrest. He doesn't GET Unrest, so he panics and trashes their fans as idiots who need to "get a life." He's a fool. A pathetic old man. Ignore every word he says.
Now back to the review! The Perry Ooboos write some songs that appeal to me, and some songs that don't. I especially don't like when they try to be funny (as in the title track here). I find it stupid and self-indulgent, my own self. But again, if you like Frank Black but would prefer that he were more normal, this Pera (Pere era, ok that didn't work as well as I'd hoped) might very well appeal to Ewe!
Enough smoothness. Back to a harder-drummin', tea-whistle-in-a-compost rock-and-noises sound. Still awfully hit-and-piss songwriting though, even if "Three Things" sounds just like The Fall. Which it does.
I'm seriously considering just selling all my Pere Ubu CDs on ebay. Do you want them?
It's the same story every time. I stick it in thinking it's gonna be great, the first few minutes pump and throb with ecstacy and then SQUIRT! It peters out into a sticky puddle of bad music about halfway through. Don't know why the Ubus can't keep it up for a full 45 minutes. There's just not enough meat to these songs! The best songs sound like Fall copies (which is why they're so good!) and the others have like a two-note bass line, a boring couple of chords and David Thomas bouncing off the walls like John Wayne Gacy in his clown uneyform. What a disappointing excuse for a band. I thought they had so many good albums, but what I was remembering was collections of 4 or 5 great songs surrounded by loads of nothing. Drat casserole. At least they're better than Monster Magnet probably!
Sorry I lost interest in the sex metaphor. It just seemed so childish, and I'm a grown man with political beliefs involving incest and tobacco. Would it make you feel better if I ended my review with the exclamation "Fiddle-de-penis!"? Because if it would, I would do that. Please send me an email letting me know if that would make you feel better, and include five dollars in the text of the email. I'll print it up and spend it at my local brewery where they make and sell carbonated piss.
At least, when I sneak into the kitchen they do. Heeeeeeeeee! Doodle-oodle-oodle-oodle-oodle!
(That was the sound of me peeing into the beer. Sorry if I'm being a little sophisticated here; I thought I'd try adding a sexy adult edge to my literature).
Best Pere Ubu album in 22 years. Heck, maybe since their debut. Really Fall-esque, if you're into The Fall (and let's not forget to remember to forget that Pere Ubu and The Fall had certain similarities in their early days too!), with a really DARK rock mood -- all mid-fi production, stinging guitar, dead but melodic bass, and drums mixed so raw and boxy as to be some guy in his basement pumping rhythmic material via satellite to Pere Ubu in their fancy recording studio (an impression supported by the fact that half the time he never actually bothers playing a backbeat, instead just shuffling around dicking his feet together). There are NO moments of tepid synth adult pop and only a few examples of their ever-aggravating "avant-garde anti-music" side, leaving fans of melody with an awful lot of suspenseful Dragnet/"Muzorewi's Daughter"-style surf/spy and '60s garage crank to fuck out to. You heard me! "To fuck out to!"
Do you guys keep dreaming that you never actually finished high school and now you're 31 and you have to go back and finish one grade even though you graduated college in December '94 and have held full-time jobs for eight years? I had yet another one last night. Satan was in one of my classes (in disguise, of course!) and kept making horrible things happen. However, one really cool thing that came out of it is that my Independent Study teacher Mrs. Butler learned how to become invisible whenever she wanted to. She demonstrated for me, and told me that I could do it too if I concentrated. That was years ago though, and has nothing to do with the dream I had last night.
So yes -- St. Arkansas features some of the greatest Pere Ubu compositions ever, comparable even to "Final Solution," "Eight Years Until I Get To Tokyo" and that sort of thing. All minor-key, in-your-face, recorded-in-the-city-streets-late-at-night murky bassed-up tone-dead film noir music for detectives smoking cigarettes in the dark shadows with their trenchcoats pulled up tight. A few less sluggish artsy moments and you've got a hit single to wow 'em in Liverfield. But what is it with Pere Ubu's sudden obsession with American states? First Pennsylvania, now Arkansas --- what's next, Pere Ubu Plays The Greatest Hits of Chicago?!?!
I doubt it. Chicago's not a state. But if it were, can you IMAGINE!? That would mean that all the other cities in Illinois would be up for grabs! First come, first served! I get the Poster Children!
No hang on, the Poster Children aren't a city/band -- there I go mixing up my c's and sh's again!
On a related note, would you mind spraying some Lysol around? Your shunt smells like a dead fic shovered in cit.
Here's my impression of this album: "Hay, I'm a drumbeat. Would you like to play a dark, forboding bass line along with me?" "Heck yeah, that'd be great. Here I go." "Hey guys, I like the murky, moody sound you've got there, and I'm a guitar. Can I add some Americana-style Gun Club/Thin White Ropey midwestern noir lines to what you're playing?" "Say, that sounds great. Do that!" "Okay, I'm doing that now!" "Hey wow, we all sound really good together! Let's try some faster punkier tunes too." "Wow, we're really 'tearing it up' now, huh?" "Yes, I think we're all in agreeance that this is some great music we're playing. In fact, let's invite a few of our friends over to add a few parts - a saxophone, a harmonica, a trumpet, you know that sort of thing." "Yeah, that sounds great!" "Excellent. Look, now we have 45 minutes of really good, dark music noir! Sure, a few of the songs aren't that great, but a lot of them really have 'IT,' don't they?" "God yes! We've got some powerful melancholy material, some pained angst, a bit of moody, a shot of blues, and even a peppy uptempo tune to close out the whole shebing-bong!" "I know! And it's all mixed really raw and real and dark and threatening. Good for us, I say! Let's all go home to our homes for the evening." "I agree. Good night, everybody!"
(*three hours pass*)
"Hay I'm a gigantic tone-deaf buffoon walking into a recording studio late at night. I wonder what's on these tapes? Holy mackarel, this stuff sounds great! I think I'll warble some atonal nonsense on top, if I can manage to emit any noise through the tiny breathing passageway buried beneath my two gargantuan, flabby cheeks." "Say! I'm a bunch of annoying squiggly synthesizer noises, and I have to tell ya -- what you're doing right now is sounding GREAT! It's sounding GREAT!" "Thanks man. Say! I've got an idea. Why don't you take a big squiggly shit in the foreground of every single track? But whatever you do - DON'T PAY ANY ATTENTION AT ALL TO THE ACTUAL KEY OR EMOTIONAL TONE OF THE SONG!" "Hay man, that's a GREAT idea! I'll DO it!" "Wow, this sounds great! We're artists!" "I agree! We took boring old 'rock music' and with no effort whatsoever (and I do mean 'no effort whatsoever') turned it into 'experimental art'!" "Quick, let's release it before the other guys come back."
In 1896, Alfred Jarry wrote a play called Ubu Roi whose main character was a loathsome scoundrel named "Pere Ubu." In 1975, a Cleveland rock band decided to name themselves after this character. Then in 2009, this very same band created a theatrical production and radio play based on the very play from which they took their name!!!! Do you realize how self-referential this is!? It would be like Tiny Tim writing a mini-series based on A Christmas Carol! Or Steely Dan directing a feature film based on The Naked Lunch! Or Fall Out Boy performing an amateur puppet show about a bowel movement! Beating all these artists at none of their games, Pere Ubu then released this production's original songs on a CD entitled Long Live Pere Ubu With Sarah Jane Morris that also has some punctuation in the title and stuff.
I was poised to hate this album based on three enormously conceited quotes attributed to David Thomas in the press material:
1. "It is, in fact, the only punk record that's been made in the last 30 years."
2. "It's long past time for rock music to grow up and move past the simpering platitudes or Tom Joad cant that passes for serious thought."
3. "If you're not going to listen to this with the same effort you'd devote to a literary novel, you're wasting your time."
However, after listening to the record, I'm no longer sure that he wasn't being facetious with these statements. It's a very funny record, and these comments -- if taken seriously -- really don't fit its tone at all. However, if he was being serious, I think we need to make the following conclusions:
1. He's never heard Blood, Guts And Pussy.
2. He's never read any Bad Religion lyrics.
3. He's aware that Long Live Pere Ubu! sounds like complete shit unless you listen closely enough to follow the story.
I would describe this record as combining the typical late-era Pere Ubu sound (guitar-based alt-rock and senseless synthesizer squibbling) with Broadway-style songwriting, absurdist dialogue, Tom Waitsy Three-Penny Opera and martial drumwork. Much of the story is told through speech or speak-singing, with David Thomas portraying Pere Ubu, weirdly "old man"-voiced Sarah Jane Morris playing his over-ambitious wife, and the other band members contributing additional voices when necessary. And silly? Oh, the funny!
The story is based on Francis Bacon's MacBeth, with Mere Ubu convincing her husband Pere to kill the King of Poland so that he can rule the country. After he does so, he ignores all her advice, kills the Nobles and destroys the country's finances before being forced out of the country by an invading Russian army. But check out some of these great lines:
Mere: "You deserve the Crown of Poland. Kill them all. Kill them all. Kill them all. Have a ball."
Pere: "If I were King, I'd have a big sombrero!"
Pere (on how to assassinate the King of Poland): "We should poison the King with a turd in his lunch!"
Pere (on his "success" handling Poland's economy): "As we were saying, the finances are going passably well. A considerable number of dogs wearing wool socks prowl the streets every morning."
Pere (giving his army a 'pep' talk prior to the Russian invasion): "We will carry the day! And we must be clear on this point -- by 'we,' I mean me."
Mere (pretending to be an Angel, speaking to her delusional husband): "Are you married, Mr. Ubu?"
Pere: "Yes. To a horror!"
Mere: "She's not unfaithful to you!"
Pere: "No one would have her!"
Mere: "She doesn't drink!"
Pere: "Not since I hid the key to the wine cellar."
Mere: "Your wife is a paragon, and you are a monster. You killed Venceslas!"
Pere: "That's not my fault! She promised me a big sombrero."
Some Gay Sailor In The Last Track: "Set the foreski- uh, foresail!"
Musically it takes a little while to get going, but by mid-album you hit some wonderfully bizarre rhythms, hooky bass lines and interestingly nervous guitar riffs. Still, the emphasis is clearly on the lyrics and vocals and, as David Thomas warned, "If you're not going to listen to this with the same effort you'd devote to a literary novel, you're wasting your time." But how often do you get the urge to pull out a literary novel that you've already read? Is "Long Live Pere Ubu!" intended to be listened to a single time and then filed away next to Thing-Fish for the next two decades? On the one hand, there are some great and evocative pieces of music on here -- particularly the mid-album four-shot of melodic bass-driven "Bring Me The Head," punky "Road To Reason," sorrowful and anxious "Slowly I Turn" and angry rock riffer "Watching The Pigeons." On the other hand, you have to ignore endless reams of dialogue and speech-singing (not to mention BELCHING in at least two songs) to focus on any of it.
I'm very glad I listened to it twice -- first to focus on the music, then to follow the story -- but will I ever listen to it again?
Before you answer that, keep in mind that I haven't listened to any Pere Ubu album after reviewing it. In fact, I sold most of the pieces of shit on ebay years ago, the fuckers!
I mean, I'm really happy for them and I'm gonna let them finish, but The Fall put out one of the best albums of all time!
Holder, Guinness Book World Record for "Least Talented Human Being Ever To Receive A Recording Contract"
What the hell are you doing? I'm talking to Link Wray, not YOUR shitty ass!