Datapanik in the Year Zero 1978-1982 [Box] – Pere Ubu

“Pere Ubu’s troubles with record companies are legendary within certain underground rock circles. In perhaps the most bizarre turn of events, the group’s collected works of 1978-1982 — after being out of print for nearly a decade — were reissued by Geffen as a five-disc box set, Datapanik in the Year Zero. Named after the group’s 1978 EP, the set is arranged chronologically and occasionally substitutes live versions for studio tracks, but that hardly matters — nearly every song the band recorded during the five-year time span is included. In addition to the official Pere Ubu material, the box includes a disc of rare singles from early incarnations of Ubu and other Cleveland-area punk rockers like Rocket from the Tombs, 15-60-75, and Mirrors, which were released on David Thomas‘ independent record label. With this much material, it’s safe to say that the set is a definitive retrospective. However, if you’re simply interested in Pere Ubu, consider the set carefully before investing. Pere Ubu were indeed one of the most innovative and challenging bands of their era, which means that their music is an acquired taste. However, those willing to invest in the box will find a wealth of inventive, hard-edged avant rock & roll. …”
allmusic (Audio)
W – Datapanik in the Year Zero
Archive – Datapanik in the Year Zero: 1975-1982 (Audio)


Anarchy Around The World: Punk Goes Global

“Forty years after it officially crash-landed in our midst, it’s easy to believe punk ‘sold out’ its lofty original ideals, not least because its leading acts all eventually signed to major labels and played ball with The Man. Yet regardless of its shortcomings, punk still had a seismic global impact during the mid-to-late 70s and its legacy can still be felt in everything from its inherent DIY ethos to its (broadly) anti-sexist stance. However, while countless revisions of this flawed – yet exhilarating – period have since been published, they nearly always fix punk as a purely transatlantic phenomenon. … This is entirely understandable, as both nations have reason to claim punk as their own. In North America, the 70s had barely dawned before New York was spawning remarkable proto-punk acts such as Suicide and New York Dolls, while across 1974-76, trailblazing US refuseniks such as Pere Ubu, Patti Smith, Ramones and Blondie were already hurling out remarkable, oeuvre-defining discs. …”
uDiscover (Audio)

Dub Housing – Pere Ubu (1978)

“Though Pere Ubu‘s tenure on Mercury lasted one record, their departure for their unlikely home of Chrysalis (at the time the label of Jethro Tull) resulted in Dub Housing, widely considered their masterpiece. Darker and more difficult than The Modern Dance (indicated by the cover’s darkened apartment complex and stormy Cleveland skyline) with plenty of bleak soundscapes (e.g., ‘Codex’), Dub Housing also includes ‘Navvy’s’ bouncy burble (featuring Thomas yelping ‘I have desires!’), and ‘(Pa) Ubu Dance Party’s surreal big beat. Make no mistake, as much as Ubu indulged in arty dissonance and mucked about with song structure, this is very much a rock & roll record, albeit one made by a band interested in pushing the envelope when it came to sound, song construction, and performance. As much as this is a band effort, the guitar of Tom Herman and the synthesizer of Allen Ravenstine frequently stand out. Herman’s strong, polished playing veers from assertive riffing to assaultive noise; Ravenstine, who may be one of the all-time great synth players, colors the sound with ominous whooshes of distortions, blips, and blurbs that sound like a sped-up Pong game. But, as is often the case with Ubu, it’s David Thomas‘ singing (here at its most engagingly unrestrained) that is front and center. Part comic foil, part raging madman, Thomas utilizes all of his limited range in a whacked expressiveness built around hiccups, yodels, screeches, and, sometimes, singing. Dub Housing sold next to nothing and signaled the beginning of the end of Ubu‘s relationship with Chrysalis, but it remains an important and influential American rock record.”
W – Dub Housing
Favourite Album-Pere Ubu
YouTube: Dub Housing 10 videos

Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance (1978)

“In a December 1975 interview with Jane Scott of The Plain Dealer, a heavyset, wild-haired Cleveland singer known as Crocus Behemoth declared, ‘We’re putting out the hits of the next psychedelic era. If a melody fits in, fine. If not, we don’t feel we have to use one. We’re a bit ahead of our time, but that’s the fun of it.’ Mr. Behemoth was referring to his new band, Pere Ubu. Although they were yet to play their first show, they were already a familiar proposition in the nascent Midwest punk scene. Three months earlier, Cleveland proto-punk heroes Rocket From the Tombs self-imploded, leaving behind a trail of half-finished songs and tales of self-destruction and farce-filled gigs. Of its classic line-up – which Lester Bangs once called ‘the original legendary underground rock band’ – Gene O’Connor and Johnny Madansky formed Frankenstein, before settling on the name The Dead Boys. Meanwhile, the shrieking Crocus Behemoth, otherwise known as David Thomas, reunited with RFTT founding guitarist and livewire Peter Laughner, before recruiting second guitarist Tom Herman, bassist Tim Wright, drummer Scott Krauss and synthesist Allen Ravenstine. Pere Ubu was born. …”
The Quietus – 40 Years On: Pere Ubu’s The Modern Dance Revisited
W – The Modern Dance
Graded on a Curve: Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance
YouTube: The Modern Dance 10 videos

Pere Ubu – Final Solution / Cloud 149 (1975)

“It’s difficult to believe that ‘Final Solution,’ the A-side of Pere Ubu’s second self-released single, was recorded in 1975; no one back then was making music that sounded like it, and for that matter, very few bands in Ubu’s wake did either. It wasn’t so much the sound of the future as it was a distressed, twisted reflection of the band’s immediate environment. Sometimes absurdist, sometimes harsh and chilling, ‘Final Solution’ — like much of Ubu’s early music — was essentially the sound of the bleak industrial wasteland that was Cleveland, OH, in the ’70s. It was also the sound of the alienated misfits who lived there — singer David Thomas’ character in the song is ugly, unbalanced, and seeking escape and release in rock & roll. Despite the title, ‘Final Solution’ was never intended to evoke memories of the Holocaust; it was actually Thomas’ play on a Sherlock Holmes story called The Final Problem. When some later punk bands employed Nazi imagery for shock value, Ubu dropped the number from their repertoire to avoid any confusion. It’s debatable as to whether the lyrics of ‘Final Solution’ even support a reading that dark. On the one hand, its angst sounded so frantic and claustrophobic, and the dissonant noise of the band so furious, that it was easy to hear suicidal implications in the song’s title and chorus. …”
Genius – Final Solution (Audio), Cloud 149 (Audio)
YouTube: Final Solution, Cloud 149

Urgh! A Music War (1982)

Urgh! A Music War is a 1982 British film featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980. Among the artists featured in the film are Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Magazine, The Go-Go’s, Toyah Willcox, The Fleshtones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, X, XTC, Devo, The Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan, Klaus Nomi, Wall of Voodoo, Pere Ubu, Steel Pulse, Surf Punks, 999, The Alley Cats, UB40, Echo & the Bunnymen and The Police. These were many of the most popular groups on the New Wave scene; in keeping with the spirit of the scene, the film also features several less famous acts, and one completely obscure group, Invisible Sex, in what appears to be their only public performance. …”
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Urgh! A Music War 26 videos

Pere Ubu – 30 Seconds Over Tokyo / Heart Of Darkness (1975)

“You’re in a hole-in-the-wall record shop rooting around in a singles bin and you find a release by Pere Ubu (Pere Ubu!) called ’30 Seconds Over Tokyo.’ That’s the hook, for starters: you don’t know why an underground Cleveland band in 1975 would pick up this shard of World War II history, and you’re ready for a cool juxtaposition or non sequitur, whatever it is. You know it ain’t going to be no Ballad of Jimmy Doolittle (captain of the famous raid). What’s intriguing, as it turns out, is that it kind of is a ballad of Jimmy Doolittle. The words take you through the raid from a slightly delirious pilot’s perspective, and before it’s over the synthesizer even mimics the drone of the B-25 engines.

The sun a hot circle on a canopy
The ’25 a racing blot on a bright green sea
Ahead the dim blur of an alien land
Time to give ourselves to strange gods’ hands

And the music style in the verse is Black Sabbath-y—not predictable, in this context, but not what you’d call provocative either. Still, you are made to puzzle over what it all means because of the borderline insanity of singer David Thomas’s delivery and the disturbing electronic commentary of Allen Ravenstine. The band is fulfilling its promise to be EXPERIMENTAL. You and the band are collaborating to see what happens when you mix ingredients that don’t come together naturally. The music as you’re now experiencing it is that event. That’s the principal hook. More than anything, it’s the attitude: everyone here is ready to try something! A great experimental band like Pere Ubu also creates replayable hooks inside the track where you’re vividly aware of the mad scientists at work and impressed by their results. I find the unleashing of sounds as we come out of the second verse stanza (the one quoted above) really lovely. …”
Hooks (Audio)
Independent: Big daddy of the avant-garde
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Heart Of Darkness