Sunday, March 07, 2021

Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance 1978 (Remaster 2005)


Pere Ubu is an American rock group formed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1975. Despite a variety of long-term and recurring band members, singer David Thomas is the only constant. They released their debut album The Modern Dance in 1978 and followed with several more LPs before disbanding in 1982. Thomas reformed the group in 1987, continuing to record and tour.

Describing their sound as "avant-garage," Pere Ubu's work drew inspiration from sources such as musique concrète, 60s rock, performance art, and the industrial environments of the American

Midwest. While the band achieved little commercial success, they have exerted a wide influence on subsequent underground music. By 1978's aggressive The Modern Dance and the wilder Dub Housing, Pere Ubu's subversions of rock were guided by superior musicianship and fallout from Thomas's Jehovah's Witness upbringing. Personality quirks split the band, and Thomas regrouped for three more self-indulgent albums through 1982, including the abstract stare-down of The Art Of Walking, all with some difficult sonic perversion to recommend them.  

Their debut album, The Modern Dance (1978), sold poorly, but has proven influential. Musicians of many types, including progressive rock, punk rock, post punk and new wave, were influenced by the

dark, abstract record. With the song "Sentimental Journey," the debut also introduced the practice of re-appropriating titles from well-known popular songs: Pere Ubu's "Sentimental Journey" has no obvious relation to the Doris Day hit song of the same name; "Drinking Wine Spodyody" has no apparent connection to the Sticks McGhee song (later revived by Jerry Lee Lewis). This practice has continued through 2006's Why I Hate Women, which has a song called "Blue Velvet" (again, no relation to the 1963 hit song by Bobby Vinton).

While most synthesizer players tended to play the instrument as they would a piano or organ,

Ravenstine generally opted instead to make sounds that were reminiscent of spooky sound effects from 1950s science fiction films, or perhaps electronic music and musique concrète. One critic writes that Ravenstine "may be one of the all-time great synth players" and his playing has been called "utterly original".

[AllMusic Review by John Dougan
There isn't a Pere Ubu recording you can imagine living without. The Modern Dance remains the

essential Ubu purchase (as does the follow-up, Dub Housing). For sure, Mercury had no idea what they had on their hands when they released this as part of their punk rock offshoot label Blank, but it remains a classic slice of art-punk. It announces itself quite boldly: the first sound you hear is a painfully high-pitched whine of feedback, but then Tom Herman's postmodern Chuck Berry riffing kicks off the brilliant "Non-Alignment Pact," and you soon realize that this is punk rock unlike any you've ever heard.

David Thomas' caterwauling is funny and moving, Scott Krauss (drums) and Tony Maimone (bass) are

one of the great unheralded rhythm sections in all of rock, and the "difficult" tracks like "Street Waves," "Chinese Radiation," and the terrifying "Humor Me" are revelatory, and way ahead of their time. The Modern Dance is the signature sound of the avant-garage: art rock, punk rock, and garage rock mixing together joyously and fearlessly.]

The Modern Dance has been critically acclaimed. Reviewing for The Village Voice in 1978, Robert

Christgau wrote that "even though there's too much Radio Ethiopia and not enough 'Redondo Beach,'" he would be "listening through the failed stuff—the highs are worth it." In Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), he reaffirmed that "the highs are worth it, and the failed stuff ain't bad" in his revised review. Ken Tucker, writing in Rolling Stone, called it vivid and exhilarating, even if "harsh and willfully ugly".

NME named The Modern Dance the 11th best album of 1978. Fact placed the record at number 31 on its list of the 100 best albums of the 1970s.



01. Non-Alignment Pact         3:18
02. The Modern Dance         3:28
03. Laughing         4:35
04. Street Waves         3:04
05. Chinese Radiation         3:27
06. Life Stinks    Peter Laughner    1:52
07. Real World         3:59
08. Over My Head         3:48
09. Sentimental Journey         6:05
10. Humor Me         2:44



David Thomas – vocals, musette, percussion, production
Tom Herman – guitar, backing vocals, production
Allen Ravenstine – EML 101 and 200 analog synthesizers, saxophone, tapes, production
Tony Maimone – bass, piano, backing vocals, production
Scott Krauss – drums, production
Tim Wright – bass guitar on "The Modern Dance" and "Sentimental Journey", production

MP3 @ 320 Size: 87 MB
Flac  Size: 232 MB