28 October 2013

Pere Ubu, Birdies & A Denial Of Prog

Had a massive thing for Pere Ubu when I was a teen... the Beefheartian chopping was my Prog (not especially garage, but avant), the only kind of Prog I could bear, even when all around me boys dabbled in various pathetic mysteries re: early Genesis and Yes albums (Red Crayola were my limiting factor - not Prog either of course, but alongside Henry Cow et al and Kevin Ayers a kind of dangerous entry point for little punks)...

Okay, I don't know what Prog is either but back then I knew the enemy and there really seemed to be one...

In fact, in retrospect, I think I just assumed that Pere Ubu might be suspiciously good at actually playing their instruments (they are extraordinarily tight for an ostensibly chaotic strand) and at the time I was a little contemptuous of musicality... it seemed an unnecessary conceit... and it was probably a problem I had with a lot of the, particularly American, New Wave bands, perhaps exemplified by the restless restraint shown by Talking Heads (who I liked, I think, but didn't like liking). I can remember Clint Ruin / Foetus talking about David Byrne's shiny shoes and... it just sent shivers down my young spine...

Where was I? Yeah, New Wave, Canterbury Scene and Prog are all the same thing, aren't they?

Anyway, Pere Ubu seemed like they were on the right side. Their music erupted from them and seemed a part of them. David Thomas wasn't right but he was utterly right. They made some beautifully odd angles (are still making some), they had their brief dalliance with some overground singles (Waiting. For. Ma-ry.) at some point and they always seemed a million miles away from their contemporaries.

Those short-wave synth squiggles, man.

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