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Clip: Ben Ratliff on Scritti Politti

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  • Carl Z.
    The Man Behind Scritti Politti, Mellower Now, Has Found His Perfect Way By BEN RATLIFF Published:
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 26, 2006
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      <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/25/arts/music/25scri.html>

      The Man Behind Scritti Politti, Mellower Now, Has Found His Perfect Way

      By BEN RATLIFF
      Published: July 25, 2006

      Green Gartside, the singer and the mind behind the band Scritti
      Politti, is still uptight about interviews. It's not interviews per
      se, but rather, interviews as part of the whole mercantile go-round:
      re-enacting his songs, talking about them, locating his target
      audience.

      You've heard this before: the skeptical artist. But Mr. Gartside's
      truculence has seemed unnecessarily self-punishing. He is an unusually
      good talker, fluid and rigorous. He writes lovely pop songs, and sings
      them well. He is not insignificant: many remember his songs, like the
      early indie breakthrough "The Sweetest Girl" from 1981, the full-scale
      hits "Wood Beez" and "Perfect Way" from the mid-80's. A small but
      devoted audience still venerates him for his earliest work, when
      Scritti Politti was a brainy, uneasy postpunk band, making songs that
      sounded like angry jigsaw puzzles. (The band's name is a
      bowdlerization of the title of a book by the Italian Marxist thinker
      Antonio Gramsci.)

      Scritti Politti — which is to say Mr. Gartside, alone in a home studio
      in London — recently made a new record, "White Bread Black Beer."
      Released today, it is his best work in 20 years, remarkably beautiful:
      the sound of "pop" as in the Lennon-McCartney tradition, reconciled
      with "pop" as in the R & B and dance music he loves equally.

      The record is subtle and exacting, with Mr. Gartside's epicene vocals
      pushed up in the mix, sometimes multitracked into a one-man chorus.
      Lines like "You bet your petrococadollar that I won't remember/ I've
      been in the marketplace since last July" he might have sung back in
      the 70's, but you can see his mature focus on craft: it is in the
      precision of the phrasing and the sweetness of the melody. Last week
      the record was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize in Britain, alongside
      records by Thom Yorke and the Arctic Monkeys.

      Mr. Gartside arrived for a lunch interview last week on edge. He had
      just had his first meeting with the heads of his American label,
      Nonesuch; it made him nervous, he said. Now 51, he resembles a
      slimmer, red-haired version of the actor Jeff Daniels. He drummed his
      fingers on the table. He had sworn off alcohol until he returned home
      to London. "It's very unlike me," he said, lofty and glum. "I normally
      have an appalling diet and drink heavily."

      "White Bread Black Beer" — the title refers to his starch-and-Guinness
      regimen, and to the notion of "white bread" pop, which he has often
      defended — prompts a facile question. If the band's early work was
      about dismantling pop, and then the mid-80's phase was the apotheosis
      of pop, then what's the new album about?

      Mr. Gartside drew a deep breath and shifted into theory. He spoke of
      the impossibility of free will and truth; of neo-pragmatism, the
      philosophy sometimes associated with the philosopher Richard Rorty; of
      the unfair critical "privileging" of rock over pop, and the ways in
      which truly popular music hasn't answered the logic of late capitalism
      in the same predictable way that the indie-rock tradition has. One
      glimpsed the porcupine he must have been as a younger man: combative,
      sardonic, high-strung.

      At this point, my tape recorder ate its cassette. He seemed strangely
      excited. "How good is your memory?" he asked. "I don't mind being
      misquoted, you know."

      He's much better than he once was. Before Mr. Gartside started playing
      gigs again this year, he had sworn off performing for 27 years. In
      1979 he suffered an anxiety attack one night after a show in Brighton.
      He went home to Wales to recuperate for nine months.

      Naturally, he chose a new course that would bring him the most agony
      possible: to repudiate the whole postpunk thing and become an
      international pop star. Ridiculous as it may sound, he seems to have
      gone about it according to theoretical principles: he was renouncing
      the postpunk, do-it-yourself musical culture as a decaying,
      false-founded construct, just a new set of restrictions. During his
      convalescence he wrote a long, unpublished screed on "the psychology
      and politics of rhythm."

      This is part of the reason Mr. Gartside became heroic to a certain
      type of bookish, leftist, English teenage boy, and why so many of
      those boys grew up proclaiming "The Sweetest Girl" to be the perfect
      pop song.

      Suspicious as he may be of the critical advantages given to
      singer-songwriter-type music over commercial pop, he has been the
      beneficiary of it. Still, it's hard to imagine him having any patience
      for hearing any song, even his own, called "perfect."

      Mr. Gartside studied fine arts at the University of Leeds in the late
      70's, but spent very little time as a studio artist, instead spending
      his time setting up lectures about politics and culture in rooms above
      local pubs. He had a special interest in philosophy and critical
      theory, and consequently, most of his songs open up questions about
      language and the meaning of truth.

      One of many examples was "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)," an
      effortless-sounding, funky, synthesizered-up song. At this point his
      aerated singing voice had lost its London accent and become what he
      calls trans-Atlantic. (Many wondered at the time why he suddenly
      sounded a bit like Michael Jackson. He might have given the
      philosophical response: Who is Michael Jackson to sound like Michael
      Jackson?) "Wood Beez" is a love song, and the lyrics form an
      epistemological game about "would bes": there's nothing he "wouldn't
      be" to get closer to the song's addressee. So then what is he, really?

      The producer Arif Mardin, who died last month, heard Mr. Gartside's
      demos in 1983, liked them and agreed to work with him in the United
      States. This was not long after the Human League's hit "Don't You Want
      Me," and there was a desire among record labels for the next group
      that could mix English pop with glossy funk. Within seven years Mr.
      Gartside went from playing gigs alongside Gang of Four and consorting
      with the Art & Language group, the hard-core conceptual-art
      collaborative, to rehearsing with an elderly Manhattan vocal coach who
      had formerly worked with Liza Minnelli.

      Mr. Gartside loved Mr. Mardin's productions, especially the records he
      had made with Chaka Khan. ("They were clever and difficult," he said.)
      He was finding out about black pop, of which he had known little
      during his childhood, and wanted to record his songs with the best
      studio musicians available: a weird ripple of confidence for someone
      who contends that he is not a great singer, and who had already been
      hospitalized twice for acute anxiety.

      Remarkably, he did what he set out to do. Didn't he feel a little
      justified by the success of "Perfect Way"? After all, the work,
      supported by his theories, won through.

      "It was awful," Mr. Gartside said. He had constructed a delicate
      critical distance on his pop stardom, which closed up, he said, as
      soon as he walked on the set of "American Bandstand." The result was
      that he eventually spent much more time on Welsh retreats, doing
      little and living off his royalties.

      For "White Bread Black Beer," he trusted the instincts of Geoff
      Travis, the founder of Rough Trade, his English label, and also his
      manager: rather than enlist the help of studio musicians, he completed
      the whole thing by himself in his tiny home studio. And, with a group
      of musicians recruited from his local pub in Hackney, Mr. Gartside has
      started a Scritti Politti tour. (American dates are being arranged for
      the fall.)

      Mr. Gartside seems to have given up his ambitions for reaching large
      numbers of people with his music: this is a record, after all, that
      labored under the working title of "Is Richard Rorty Right or Wrong?"
      He is trying to enjoy himself a little. He has grown up, calmed down
      and gotten married. The scale, finally, seems right.

      After he had flown back home last week, I called Mr. Gartside on his
      cellphone. He was drinking stout and eating potato chips outside the
      pub and sounded much happier. I asked if I had misheard him: he really
      didn't mind being misquoted?

      "Oh, no!" he said effusively. Why — because there's no absolute truth?
      "Something like that," he said. "Also, the privileging that's given to
      the quotation: the voice, the specific utterance, the signature. I'm
      steeped in a tradition that's suspicious of all that."
    • Steve Berry
      Thanks for sharing that article -- I really enjoyed those mid-80s albums by Scritti Politti, and I wondered what happened. -- Steve [Non-text portions of this
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 26, 2006
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        Thanks for sharing that article -- I really enjoyed those mid-80s albums by Scritti Politti, and I wondered what happened.

        -- Steve


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Kevin J. Hosey
        The recent messages on Pere Ubu and Rocket from the Tombs finally moved me to act. Despite having a couple of songs on compilations, Pere Ubu is one of those
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 29, 2006
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          The recent messages on Pere Ubu and Rocket from the Tombs finally moved
          me to act. Despite having a couple of songs on compilations, Pere Ubu
          is one of those bands I haven't really heard or gotten into; so, after
          finding several CDs at the library, I checked two out today, Song of
          the Bailing Man and The Art of Walking. There are also several others
          I could check out, so what are your recommendations? I do enjoy when a
          synthesizer sounds disjointed or like a synthesizer, and not like
          another instrument.

          Kevin
          http://Buffaloroots.com
          www.buffaloroots.blogspot.com
        • Carl Z.
          If the synthesizer is your main hook, Kevin, check the credits of any disc to make sure Allen Ravenstine is in the band. My favorite display of his talents is
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 30, 2006
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            If the synthesizer is your main hook, Kevin, check the credits of any disc
            to make sure Allen Ravenstine is in the band. My favorite display of his
            talents is actually not a Pere Ubu disc, but his eerie and, yes, disjointed
            work on David Thomas's solo disc Monster Walks the Winter Lake.

            Ubu's sound has varied enough that there are several possible places for a
            good introduction. Story of My Life from 1993 might be as close to
            mainstream rock (of that time) as anything they attempted; the
            accordion-driven "Wasted" was used in a Monster.com ad a couple of years
            ago. The late-80s-early 90s discs (especially Cloudland and Worlds in
            Collision) are also very poppy; Worlds in Collision might be the single
            catchiest recording the band has made. (Ravenstine left the band at the
            beginning of its recording sessions in 1990, and was temporarily replaced by
            onetime Captain Beefheart synth player Eric Drew Feldman. None of the
            post-1991 records feature Ravenstine, if that matters to you.) The
            synthesizer work on these discs is more conventional that it was on the
            albums you checked out, but the band still sounds like no one else.

            If your library has a copy of Terminal Tower, that collection of early
            tracks shows off the dark, rumbling power of the band as well as anything.
            It's the disc I would start with, given the choice, followed by Modern Dance
            and Dub Housing. All of the records up to the initial split in 1982 are
            collected in the Datapanik in the Year Zero box, along with a disc of
            rarities including some of Ravenstine's early synth experiments. It's a
            wonderful box.

            Over the past decade, Pere Ubu has gotten heavier and less glossy than the
            post-1987 reunion records, with Pennsylvania and St. Arkansas being more
            guitar-heavy with the temporary return of founding guitarist Tom Herman.
            All of these records are excellent, though maybe not the best place to
            start. I haven't heard the new one yet -- I think it come out next month?

            If the stuff on Terminal Tower appeals and you don't mind lo-fi recordings,
            check out The Day the Earth Met Rocket From the Tombs. No synths, but some
            incredibly powerful and strange guitar rock that shows the links between
            Ubu, the Velvet Underground and Television. (And if you really don't mind
            lo-fi, Ubu's live One Man Drives While the Other Man Screams is thrilling,
            but certainly not the most accessible place to start investigating.)

            This run-down didn't sound very critical, did it? You picked out my two
            least favorite Ubu discs from right before their early-80s hiatus. They're
            good, but not ones I feel compelled to revisit. See if Terminal Tower or
            the box set are at the library, but (happily, as Thomas has carved out a
            long and varied career with the band and solo) no one disc will be
            definitive.

            Carl Z.

            On 7/29/06, Kevin J. Hosey <kjhosey@...> wrote:
            >
            > The recent messages on Pere Ubu and Rocket from the Tombs finally moved
            > me to act. Despite having a couple of songs on compilations, Pere Ubu
            > is one of those bands I haven't really heard or gotten into; so, after
            > finding several CDs at the library, I checked two out today, Song of
            > the Bailing Man and The Art of Walking. There are also several others
            > I could check out, so what are your recommendations? I do enjoy when a
            > synthesizer sounds disjointed or like a synthesizer, and not like
            > another instrument.
            >
            >


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Kevin J. Hosey
            Carl, thank you very much; that is everything I could want and more, and it is very helpful. I can see that wading into Pere Ubu is not a simple hit-and-run
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 30, 2006
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              Carl,
              thank you very much; that is everything I could want and more, and it
              is very helpful. I can see that wading into Pere Ubu is not a simple
              hit-and-run deal, but then, great music never is.
              As for synthesizers, no, I am not that concerned about them as in being
              my main hook or concentration, but I wanted to make sure that anyone
              reading my e-mail knew that didn't fear quirky, disjointed or less
              clean sounds.
              The library I checked, the main/downtown branch of the Buffalo and
              Erie County Public Libraries, had about 6 Pere Ubu CDs, so I will check
              out the rest and see how they stack up on your report. I kind of picked
              the ones I first checked out because they were, as far as I could tell,
              the earliest Pere Ubu CDs there, at least when I looked.
              And a bit of a funny story; we took a secondary entrance to the library
              because it was much closer to where we parked. Val was on the escalator
              in front of me, and as we came up, we faced the main desk of one of the
              book sections, pertaining to history, sociology and other topics, the
              main one I use. Sitting at the desk was someone I call my "eight-year
              sentence," watching us come up (at one point, before she walked out
              the door, this person said to me "You're just an old rocker, and that's
              all you'll ever be." When I first told Val this story, she replied,
              "Yeah, and that's bad?"). Val shook her head and later laughed, but, as
              she put it, got all "girly" and pissed off/jealous; we know that she
              works there, but we always seem to encounter her when we aren't
              expecting it. Me, it doesn't matter; I've got Val, another "old rocker."

              Kevin

              On Sunday, July 30, 2006, at 10:47 AM, Carl Z. wrote:

              > If the synthesizer is your main hook, Kevin, check the credits of any
              > disc
              > to make sure Allen Ravenstine is in the band. My favorite display of
              > his
              > talents is actually not a Pere Ubu disc, but his eerie and, yes,
              > disjointed
              > work on David Thomas's solo disc Monster Walks the Winter Lake.
              >
              > Ubu's sound has varied enough that there are several possible places
              > for a
              > good introduction. Story of My Life from 1993 might be as close to
              > mainstream rock (of that time) as anything they attempted; the
              > accordion-driven "Wasted" was used in a Monster.com ad a couple of
              > years
              > ago. The late-80s-early 90s discs (especially Cloudland and Worlds in
              > Collision) are also very poppy; Worlds in Collision might be the single
              > catchiest recording the band has made. (Ravenstine left the band at
              > the
              > beginning of its recording sessions in 1990, and was temporarily
              > replaced by
              > onetime Captain Beefheart synth player Eric Drew Feldman. None of the
              > post-1991 records feature Ravenstine, if that matters to you.) The
              > synthesizer work on these discs is more conventional that it was on the
              > albums you checked out, but the band still sounds like no one else.
              >
              > If your library has a copy of Terminal Tower, that collection of early
              > tracks shows off the dark, rumbling power of the band as well as
              > anything.
              > It's the disc I would start with, given the choice, followed by Modern
              > Dance
              > and Dub Housing. All of the records up to the initial split in 1982
              > are
              > collected in the Datapanik in the Year Zero box, along with a disc of
              > rarities including some of Ravenstine's early synth experiments. It's
              > a
              > wonderful box.
              >
              > Over the past decade, Pere Ubu has gotten heavier and less glossy than
              > the
              > post-1987 reunion records, with Pennsylvania and St. Arkansas being
              > more
              > guitar-heavy with the temporary return of founding guitarist Tom
              > Herman.
              > All of these records are excellent, though maybe not the best place to
              > start. I haven't heard the new one yet -- I think it come out next
              > month?
              >
              > If the stuff on Terminal Tower appeals and you don't mind lo-fi
              > recordings,
              > check out The Day the Earth Met Rocket From the Tombs. No synths, but
              > some
              > incredibly powerful and strange guitar rock that shows the links
              > between
              > Ubu, the Velvet Underground and Television. (And if you really don't
              > mind
              > lo-fi, Ubu's live One Man Drives While the Other Man Screams is
              > thrilling,
              > but certainly not the most accessible place to start investigating.)
              >
              > This run-down didn't sound very critical, did it? You picked out my
              > two
              > least favorite Ubu discs from right before their early-80s hiatus.
              > They're
              > good, but not ones I feel compelled to revisit. See if Terminal Tower
              > or
              > the box set are at the library, but (happily, as Thomas has carved out
              > a
              > long and varied career with the band and solo) no one disc will be
              > definitive.
              >
            • Kevin J. Hosey
              Finally, a review of the Music Is Art 20076 festival, featuring about 100 Buffalo and Western New York bands (and a set and guitar clinic for girls by Lisa
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 31, 2006
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                Finally, a review of the Music Is Art 20076 festival, featuring about
                100 Buffalo and Western New York bands (and a set and guitar clinic for
                girls by Lisa Loeb) has been posted to http://Buffaloroots.com A
                Peter Case show review will be posted later this week.

                Kevin
                http://Buffaloroots.com
                www.buffaloroots.blogspot.com
              • marlowe5
                Carl what did you think of Ray Gun Suitcase? I wanted to get rid of it several times, but lo & behold the damn thing really grew on me. Tom ... If there was
                Message 7 of 11 , Aug 1, 2006
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                  Carl what did you think of Ray Gun Suitcase? I wanted to get rid of it several times, but lo & behold the damn thing really grew on me.

                  Tom

                  -----Original Message-----
                  >From: "Carl Z." <zimm28@...>
                  >Sent: Jul 30, 2006 9:47 AM
                  >To: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com
                  >Subject: Re: [fearnwhiskey] Pere Ubu question
                  >
                  >If the synthesizer is your main hook, Kevin, check the credits of any disc
                  >to make sure Allen Ravenstine is in the band. My favorite display of his
                  >talents is actually not a Pere Ubu disc, but his eerie and, yes, disjointed
                  >work on David Thomas's solo disc Monster Walks the Winter Lake.
                  >
                  >Ubu's sound has varied enough that there are several possible places for a
                  >good introduction. Story of My Life from 1993 might be as close to
                  >mainstream rock (of that time) as anything they attempted; the
                  >accordion-driven "Wasted" was used in a Monster.com ad a couple of years
                  >ago. The late-80s-early 90s discs (especially Cloudland and Worlds in
                  >Collision) are also very poppy; Worlds in Collision might be the single
                  >catchiest recording the band has made. (Ravenstine left the band at the
                  >beginning of its recording sessions in 1990, and was temporarily replaced by
                  >onetime Captain Beefheart synth player Eric Drew Feldman. None of the
                  >post-1991 records feature Ravenstine, if that matters to you.) The
                  >synthesizer work on these discs is more conventional that it was on the
                  >albums you checked out, but the band still sounds like no one else.
                  >
                  >If your library has a copy of Terminal Tower, that collection of early
                  >tracks shows off the dark, rumbling power of the band as well as anything.
                  >It's the disc I would start with, given the choice, followed by Modern Dance
                  >and Dub Housing. All of the records up to the initial split in 1982 are
                  >collected in the Datapanik in the Year Zero box, along with a disc of
                  >rarities including some of Ravenstine's early synth experiments. It's a
                  >wonderful box.
                  >
                  >Over the past decade, Pere Ubu has gotten heavier and less glossy than the
                  >post-1987 reunion records, with Pennsylvania and St. Arkansas being more
                  >guitar-heavy with the temporary return of founding guitarist Tom Herman.
                  >All of these records are excellent, though maybe not the best place to
                  >start. I haven't heard the new one yet -- I think it come out next month?
                  >
                  >If the stuff on Terminal Tower appeals and you don't mind lo-fi recordings,
                  >check out The Day the Earth Met Rocket From the Tombs. No synths, but some
                  >incredibly powerful and strange guitar rock that shows the links between
                  >Ubu, the Velvet Underground and Television. (And if you really don't mind
                  >lo-fi, Ubu's live One Man Drives While the Other Man Screams is thrilling,
                  >but certainly not the most accessible place to start investigating.)
                  >
                  >This run-down didn't sound very critical, did it? You picked out my two
                  >least favorite Ubu discs from right before their early-80s hiatus. They're
                  >good, but not ones I feel compelled to revisit. See if Terminal Tower or
                  >the box set are at the library, but (happily, as Thomas has carved out a
                  >long and varied career with the band and solo) no one disc will be
                  >definitive.
                  >
                  >Carl Z.
                  >
                  >On 7/29/06, Kevin J. Hosey <kjhosey@...> wrote:
                  >>
                  >> The recent messages on Pere Ubu and Rocket from the Tombs finally moved
                  >> me to act. Despite having a couple of songs on compilations, Pere Ubu
                  >> is one of those bands I haven't really heard or gotten into; so, after
                  >> finding several CDs at the library, I checked two out today, Song of
                  >> the Bailing Man and The Art of Walking. There are also several others
                  >> I could check out, so what are your recommendations? I do enjoy when a
                  >> synthesizer sounds disjointed or like a synthesizer, and not like
                  >> another instrument.
                  >>
                  >>
                  >
                  >
                  >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >


                  "If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom." --- Judy Deck
                • Wilson, Carl
                  ... several times, but lo & behold the damn thing really grew on me. I know I m not the Carl you were addressing, but: Ray Gun Suitcase is one of my favourite
                  Message 8 of 11 , Aug 1, 2006
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                    >Carl what did you think of Ray Gun Suitcase? I wanted to get rid of it
                    several times, but lo & behold the damn thing really grew on me.

                    I know I'm not the Carl you were addressing, but: Ray Gun Suitcase is
                    one of my favourite modern-era Ubu albums, and actually one I'd
                    recommend as quite accessible, with a lot of raving rockers such as the
                    title track and Don't Worry, as well as excellent story-monologue songs
                    in the best D.Thomas vein, such as Montana and Electricity.

                    pass the word around them Golden Pools
                    I've been elected King of the Fools,

                    carl w


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • marlowe5
                    Heh, I ve got a vacuum cleaner in my head Tom ... If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying
                    Message 9 of 11 , Aug 2, 2006
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                      Heh, I've got a vacuum cleaner in my head <inset sucking noises> <g>

                      Tom

                      -----Original Message-----
                      >From: "Wilson, Carl" <cwilson@...>
                      >Sent: Aug 1, 2006 5:10 PM
                      >To: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com
                      >Subject: RE: [fearnwhiskey] Pere Ubu question
                      >
                      >>Carl what did you think of Ray Gun Suitcase? I wanted to get rid of it
                      >several times, but lo & behold the damn thing really grew on me.
                      >
                      >I know I'm not the Carl you were addressing, but: Ray Gun Suitcase is
                      >one of my favourite modern-era Ubu albums, and actually one I'd
                      >recommend as quite accessible, with a lot of raving rockers such as the
                      >title track and Don't Worry, as well as excellent story-monologue songs
                      >in the best D.Thomas vein, such as Montana and Electricity.
                      >
                      >pass the word around them Golden Pools
                      >I've been elected King of the Fools,
                      >
                      >carl w
                      >
                      >
                      >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >


                      "If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom." --- Judy Deck
                    • Carl Z.
                      I like all the discs by the current (well, there have been some lineup changes, but I think of everything post-Story of My Life Ubu as the current band)
                      Message 10 of 11 , Aug 2, 2006
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                        I like all the discs by the current (well, there have been some lineup
                        changes, but I think of everything post-Story of My Life Ubu as the current
                        band) lineup. I don't know if it's as accessible as Story of My Life, but I
                        like Ray Gun Suitcase more, if that makes any sense.

                        Carl Z.

                        On 8/1/06, marlowe5 <marlowe5@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Carl what did you think of Ray Gun Suitcase? I wanted to get rid of it
                        > several times, but lo & behold the damn thing really grew on me.
                        >
                        > Tom
                        >
                        >
                        > -----Original Message-----
                        > >From: "Carl Z." <zimm28@... <zimm28%40gmail.com>>
                        > >Sent: Jul 30, 2006 9:47 AM
                        > >To: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com <fearnwhiskey%40yahoogroups.com>
                        > >Subject: Re: [fearnwhiskey] Pere Ubu question
                        > >
                        > >If the synthesizer is your main hook, Kevin, check the credits of any
                        > disc
                        > >to make sure Allen Ravenstine is in the band. My favorite display of his
                        > >talents is actually not a Pere Ubu disc, but his eerie and, yes,
                        > disjointed
                        > >work on David Thomas's solo disc Monster Walks the Winter Lake.
                        > >
                        > >Ubu's sound has varied enough that there are several possible places for
                        > a
                        > >good introduction. Story of My Life from 1993 might be as close to
                        > >mainstream rock (of that time) as anything they attempted; the
                        > >accordion-driven "Wasted" was used in a Monster.com ad a couple of years
                        > >ago. The late-80s-early 90s discs (especially Cloudland and Worlds in
                        > >Collision) are also very poppy; Worlds in Collision might be the single
                        > >catchiest recording the band has made. (Ravenstine left the band at the
                        > >beginning of its recording sessions in 1990, and was temporarily replaced
                        > by
                        > >onetime Captain Beefheart synth player Eric Drew Feldman. None of the
                        > >post-1991 records feature Ravenstine, if that matters to you.) The
                        > >synthesizer work on these discs is more conventional that it was on the
                        > >albums you checked out, but the band still sounds like no one else.
                        > >
                        > >If your library has a copy of Terminal Tower, that collection of early
                        > >tracks shows off the dark, rumbling power of the band as well as
                        > anything.
                        > >It's the disc I would start with, given the choice, followed by Modern
                        > Dance
                        > >and Dub Housing. All of the records up to the initial split in 1982 are
                        > >collected in the Datapanik in the Year Zero box, along with a disc of
                        > >rarities including some of Ravenstine's early synth experiments. It's a
                        > >wonderful box.
                        > >
                        > >Over the past decade, Pere Ubu has gotten heavier and less glossy than
                        > the
                        > >post-1987 reunion records, with Pennsylvania and St. Arkansas being more
                        > >guitar-heavy with the temporary return of founding guitarist Tom Herman.
                        > >All of these records are excellent, though maybe not the best place to
                        > >start. I haven't heard the new one yet -- I think it come out next month?
                        > >
                        > >If the stuff on Terminal Tower appeals and you don't mind lo-fi
                        > recordings,
                        > >check out The Day the Earth Met Rocket From the Tombs. No synths, but
                        > some
                        > >incredibly powerful and strange guitar rock that shows the links between
                        > >Ubu, the Velvet Underground and Television. (And if you really don't mind
                        > >lo-fi, Ubu's live One Man Drives While the Other Man Screams is
                        > thrilling,
                        > >but certainly not the most accessible place to start investigating.)
                        > >
                        > >This run-down didn't sound very critical, did it? You picked out my two
                        > >least favorite Ubu discs from right before their early-80s hiatus.
                        > They're
                        > >good, but not ones I feel compelled to revisit. See if Terminal Tower or
                        > >the box set are at the library, but (happily, as Thomas has carved out a
                        > >long and varied career with the band and solo) no one disc will be
                        > >definitive.
                        > >
                        > >Carl Z.
                        > >
                        > >On 7/29/06, Kevin J. Hosey <kjhosey@... <kjhosey%40adelphia.net>>
                        > wrote:
                        > >>
                        > >> The recent messages on Pere Ubu and Rocket from the Tombs finally moved
                        > >> me to act. Despite having a couple of songs on compilations, Pere Ubu
                        > >> is one of those bands I haven't really heard or gotten into; so, after
                        > >> finding several CDs at the library, I checked two out today, Song of
                        > >> the Bailing Man and The Art of Walking. There are also several others
                        > >> I could check out, so what are your recommendations? I do enjoy when a
                        > >> synthesizer sounds disjointed or like a synthesizer, and not like
                        > >> another instrument.
                        > >>
                        > >>
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        > >
                        >
                        > "If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people
                        > dying of boredom." --- Judy Deck
                        >
                        >
                        >


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Kevin J. Hosey
                        I returned the two CDs I took out from the library (7-day limit), Song of the Bailing Man and The Art of Walking, today and got to more Pere Ubu CDs, New
                        Message 11 of 11 , Aug 5, 2006
                        • 0 Attachment
                          I returned the two CDs I took out from the library (7-day limit), Song
                          of the Bailing Man and The Art of Walking, today and got to more Pere
                          Ubu CDs, New Picnic Time and Apocalypse. These were the only two other
                          Pere Ubu CDs there; when I first checked, there were six Pere Ubu CDs
                          at the library, but someone must have checked out the other two.
                          I noticed that they aren't on the list that you mentioned/reviewed,
                          Carl, and honestly, I was hoping that the library would have Dub
                          Housing and Modern Dance. But let's see how these work out.

                          Kevin
                          http://Buffaloroots.com
                          www.buffaloroots.blogspot.com

                          On Sunday, July 30, 2006, at 10:47 AM, Carl Z. wrote:

                          > If the synthesizer is your main hook, Kevin, check the credits of any
                          > disc
                          > to make sure Allen Ravenstine is in the band. My favorite display of
                          > his
                          > talents is actually not a Pere Ubu disc, but his eerie and, yes,
                          > disjointed
                          > work on David Thomas's solo disc Monster Walks the Winter Lake.
                          >
                          > Ubu's sound has varied enough that there are several possible places
                          > for a
                          > good introduction. Story of My Life from 1993 might be as close to
                          > mainstream rock (of that time) as anything they attempted; the
                          > accordion-driven "Wasted" was used in a Monster.com ad a couple of
                          > years
                          > ago. The late-80s-early 90s discs (especially Cloudland and Worlds in
                          > Collision) are also very poppy; Worlds in Collision might be the single
                          > catchiest recording the band has made. (Ravenstine left the band at
                          > the
                          > beginning of its recording sessions in 1990, and was temporarily
                          > replaced by
                          > onetime Captain Beefheart synth player Eric Drew Feldman. None of the
                          > post-1991 records feature Ravenstine, if that matters to you.) The
                          > synthesizer work on these discs is more conventional that it was on the
                          > albums you checked out, but the band still sounds like no one else.
                          >
                          > If your library has a copy of Terminal Tower, that collection of early
                          > tracks shows off the dark, rumbling power of the band as well as
                          > anything.
                          > It's the disc I would start with, given the choice, followed by Modern
                          > Dance
                          > and Dub Housing. All of the records up to the initial split in 1982
                          > are
                          > collected in the Datapanik in the Year Zero box, along with a disc of
                          > rarities including some of Ravenstine's early synth experiments. It's
                          > a
                          > wonderful box.
                          >
                          > Over the past decade, Pere Ubu has gotten heavier and less glossy than
                          > the
                          > post-1987 reunion records, with Pennsylvania and St. Arkansas being
                          > more
                          > guitar-heavy with the temporary return of founding guitarist Tom
                          > Herman.
                          > All of these records are excellent, though maybe not the best place to
                          > start. I haven't heard the new one yet -- I think it come out next
                          > month?
                          >
                          > If the stuff on Terminal Tower appeals and you don't mind lo-fi
                          > recordings,
                          > check out The Day the Earth Met Rocket From the Tombs. No synths, but
                          > some
                          > incredibly powerful and strange guitar rock that shows the links
                          > between
                          > Ubu, the Velvet Underground and Television. (And if you really don't
                          > mind
                          > lo-fi, Ubu's live One Man Drives While the Other Man Screams is
                          > thrilling,
                          > but certainly not the most accessible place to start investigating.)
                          >
                          > This run-down didn't sound very critical, did it? You picked out my
                          > two
                          > least favorite Ubu discs from right before their early-80s hiatus.
                          > They're
                          > good, but not ones I feel compelled to revisit. See if Terminal Tower
                          > or
                          > the box set are at the library, but (happily, as Thomas has carved out
                          > a
                          > long and varied career with the band and solo) no one disc will be
                          > definitive.
                          >
                          > Carl Z.
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