by carl wilson

Pitying Merritt, David Thomas Generously
Offers Up Self as New Whipping Boy


Above, the cover of the upcoming Pere Ubu album. Quotes on the unreleased disc so far: Charliedontsurf of Ubudance: "Well ... it looks like ... it seems that ... i have to say : forthcoming album is the ******* BEST ALBUM OF THE BAND, EVER!" Zouba, moderator at the Pere Ubu Foundation email list: "I've been mum on this so far, but um: Charlie is completely correct. This is clearly far and away the best piece of any of the 'modern' ubu era releases. Stellar." Track titles: Two Girls (One Bar), Babylonian Warehouses, Blue Velvet, Caroleen, Flames Over Nebraska, Love Song, Mona, My Boyfriend's Back, Stolen Cadillac, Synth Farm, and Texas Overture.

Remember that this is Pere Ubu we're talking about here, which means that (a) album title may not indicate album contents; but (b) there is no guarantee that the songs are not about why David Thomas hates women. Which is not to say that he does; but that to whatever extent he does or sometimes does or from a certain angle does, or even if he does not at all, he would not hesitate to argue it if it suited his purposes. (Another of the strangely unremarked-upon aspects of his paper at EMP, besides the "fact" that only Americans can play rock, came when he said that in order to be protected from the distortions of media, the secrets of rock'n'roll must be preserved and kept among close-knit "bands of brothers." I think he added something to indicate that he was using the gender-specific term deliberately, but I can't recall the wording now.)

Not sure who/what that is in the cover image, although it reminds me of the detail from the Mona Lisa on the cover of The Da Vinci Code.

| Posted by zoilus on Monday, May 15 at 2:39 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (7)



I answered the Ubu-choices question a few weeks ago here, Wilbur (at but I'll paste it here again for yr convenience:

The usual and probably most persuasive place to start is at the beginning: The first two classic albums, The Modern Dance and Dub Housing, as well as the pre-album singles, aka "the Hearpan singles," which tend to go in and out of print on various collections. If you can find "Terminal Tower: An Archival Collection," that includes singles from the whole 70s-early 80s period, which gives you a better idea of stylistic range - after Dub Housing things get a little less "hard," but contrary to received opinion, not necessarily less good. (Wait, I just found it for you: And it's a deal!) The "Shape of Things" live album is also amazing, recorded in Cleveland, April 1976. (Thirty years ago this week, actually.)

In the more recent period, of the stuff in print, I'd suggest 1995's Ray Gun Suitcase: That's probably the best outing from the new-generation lineup. In between, during the Fontana/EMI period, the records are mostly unavailable, but there's a fine live recording called "Apocalypse Now" that covers some of it.

It's worth noting this: The new album will be the first Pere Ubu album ever that includes no Seventies-era members other than David Thomas. (Although some of the current members have actually been in Pere Ubu longer than any of those people were.)

Posted by zoilus on May 19, 2006 11:10 AM



The irony about the Fontana albums being unavailable is that in 1992 or so I used to kvetch that you couldn't find the early albums anywhere. Now we're awash in the early material, and it's the "pop" Ubu albums that are the rarities.

Speaking of the early Ubu, though, in answer to Wet wilbur's question, I forgot to mention that just as good as the first two albums was the EP Datapanik in the Year Zero, which collected most of their amazing early pre-LP singles. It's available on the Ubu box set that came out about a decade ago, also confusingly called Datapanik in the Year Zero, assuming you can find a copy of that.

I'm showing my age, but the Ubu shows at the Horseshoe in the fall of 1978 were pure magic, and rank among the best shows I've ever seen. I didn't "get" Ubu until that point, but those shows made me an instant and lifelong convert.

I've gone to see them whenever I can since then and always enjoyed it, but David T. certainly seems to be getting ever crankier with the passing years.

Posted by Tycho on May 19, 2006 11:02 AM



I e-mailed David Thomas about the Fontana albums a while ago, and he answered that they were negotiating a re-release. Only thing is, "a while ago" is damn near three years now.

Posted by Chris on May 18, 2006 2:09 PM



I love that album too, Tycho - in fact it was my first exposure to the band. Funny you should mention it, because I was making a mix cd earlier this week and really really wanted to include We Have the Technology - and not the fun, rough version on the Apocalypse Now live disc but the beautiful concise one on Tenement Year. My copy of the album is boxed away w/ all my cassettes (as I don't have a working tape player) and I spent a couple of hours searching for it online to no avail. It'll be a happy day when those "Fontana years" albums (Tenement Year, Cloudland and Worlds in Collision) are finally reissued. I'm not sure whether it's just the legal snags or if David T. and co. have mixed feelings about the poppier sound of those records and so don't feel so urgently motivated to untangle them. I hope that's not it, because there are great tunes on every one of them.

Posted by zoilus on May 18, 2006 12:14 PM



I love almost all their stuff, but they've never really topped their first two albums -- The Modern Dance and Dub Housing.

However, The Tenement Year, their 1988 "comeback", came very close. It's a crime that it's now out of print and totally unavailable on CD.

Posted by Tycho on May 18, 2006 11:31 AM



I think the face looks a bit like it could be a young John Lennon.

Posted by erella on May 16, 2006 12:14 PM



What are your favorite Ubu albums, in order? For a newbie.

Posted by wet wilbur on May 16, 2006 8:51 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson