Old Man’s Back Again

Ok: third try to post. I hate the new google version of blogger, so far.

I came to Pere Ubu late, but earlier than anyone currently in their twenties, I suppose, since I stole my vinyl copy of The Tenement Year from my college radio station in ’89 or ’90. Hey, I figure we’re even – I paid that school 50K already (yeah, no debt, nyah nyah) of my own money and I also returned anything I stole that happened to suck – like Pearl Joke’s debut album 11.11 or whatever it was called, which I think might be the one thing, in my entire kleptomanical life, that I stole and returned within 24 hours. See, I don’t have a problem.

I’d discovered Pere Ubu a year earlier, in high school, when late one evening my cornerstone program of all great, seminal video experiences, Nite Flite, delivered the video for “We Have the Technology,” and I was sufficiently smitten with a fat, mustachioed guy with a voice like a muppet’s singing a bittersweet anthem over a barely-knit arrangement of ramshackle synths and guitars.

I’d later dicover singer David Thomas once uttered one of my now favorite quotes. When asked to define rock and roll, he answered (and I probably paraphrase) with the following: “Hauling large black boxes from one end of town to the other.”

Meaning: if you have roadies, you ain’t rock and roll no more.

The Tenement Year was Pere Ubu’s first album in six years, and I think because Thomas left, but I also think this album reunited the core essentials, like bassist Tony Maimone and synth maniac Allen Ravenstine and drummer Scott Krauss; the rest of the lineup is filled out by super-recruit Jim Jones’s distortionless guitar, which does wonderful things, Chris Cutler’s kitchen sink percussion and noises, and John Kirkpatrick’s melodeon. It’s the keyboard and synth noises that did it, and continue to do it, for me; I can’t think of anyone other than the early seventies Silver Apples who allowed such unthethered electronic noise to disrupt pop constructions, and so wonderfully – it’s like blips and bleeps from a spazzing computer, a dying machine, another vocalist.

Pere Ubu’s next album, Cloudland, would be even more pop oriented, and was actually not half bad, but I could never leave The Tenement Year for it. Of course, there’s more to Pere Ubu than these two albums, way more, but I wouldn’t categorize them together – The Modern Dance et al, being the genesis of artpunk, somewhat, or garage rock’s pinnacle, deserve investigation always.

I think Cloudland and The Tenement Year are being resissued after years out of print. Well deserved, and too long in coming.

Not gonna post “We Have the Technology” because it was the single and isn’t the only justification for the album’s reissue. If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably already heard it, or you have too much free time.

Pere Ubu – Something’s Gotta Give

Pere Ubu – Miss You

Pere Ubu – Talk To Me
is that (‘my boyfriend’s back’ at the beginning?)


5 thoughts on “Old Man’s Back Again

  1. In my vinyl graveyard in NYC, the place where my turntable and records are waiting for me to claim them from a certain ex, there are at least three albums stamped with “Property of WM**.” All of them are stupid good, and were pilfered in the fall of 1990.Time.


  2. You should reacquire them. Texas needs them to be within its borders. And if you don’t claim them soon, you can bet a drooling brat will soon mangle them beyond playability.Come to think of it – I could ‘get’ them for you, but that might delay them a tad while I (ahem) store them.


  3. Unless you know something I don’t, this ex is highly unlikely to reproduce. She might however, design a very sleek, modern cabinet to house them.


  4. Er, I think I <>appreciate<> this, but I’m not sure I like it.Or do I?I avoided Pere Ubu for ages because an annoying former friend LOVES them. First time hearing them now, and ok, it’s growing on me. But probably not going to be a favorite.


  5. That’s acceptable. This album is a grower, not a stunner; I had it in my collection and unlistened for almost ten years after my initial pinching of it, and really only for ‘we have the technology.’ Nowadays, I dig it for how ahead of its time – and unsung for that – it remains.


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