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Terminal Tower: An Archival Collection, Nonlp Singles & B Sides 1975-1980

Pere Ubu

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Album Review

At the outset of their career, Pere Ubu released some of the very first independent-label American punk singles on their own Hearthan (later Hearpen) label, which constitute some of their most celebrated and legendary work. Terminal Tower: An Archival Collection gathers 11 tracks, mostly from the crucial Hearthan/Hearpen period (including the entire Datapanik in the Year Zero EP), plus a couple of later U.K. singles. This music's historical importance is undeniable — not only because of the band's pioneeringly independent status in an area not as celebrated for its punk scene, but also because Pere Ubu was one of the first bands to push their art punk sound into territory later classified as alternative, a testament to their forward-looking approach. None of that would matter if Terminal Tower didn't hold up so well as a listening experience, but Pere Ubu still sounds utterly original. David Thomas' unearthly voice mumbles and sobs the angular melodies over a backdrop of garagey guitars, startling sound effects (from both guitar and synth), and odd dissonances. Moments of jarring, apocalyptic terror ("Heart of Darkness," the creeping, crawling "30 Seconds Over Tokyo") sit next to oddly beautiful introspection, sometimes on the same song (the aching angst and evocative guitar solo of "Final Solution"). Meanwhile, poppier tracks incorporate those avant-garde textures into a gleeful dada bounce. The two tracks unavailable anywhere else, "Not Happy" and "Lonesome Cowboy Dave," are slices of poppy dementia that may make the collection worthwhile for devotees who already own the box, especially since this is such a strong, coherent listen. Terminal Tower stands as the best introduction to the band not only because of its stellar material and relative accessibility, but also because it largely lacks the arty indulgences that popped up even on the group's most consistent albums. Now that it's back in print, it's essential, groundbreaking listening.

Customer Reviews

Pere Ubu: One step beyond.

Pere Ubu's early work is my favorite, not necessarily their "best" just my favorite. 30 seconds over tokyo, final solution, modern dance, humor me, sound as good to me as it did back in the late 70's. I do believe Allen ravenstine is the great synthsist to ever tweek a syth. his EML synth was not used as an organ or a generator of Cutsey synth sounds. He added an atmosphere that enhaced and expanded the flavors of Ubu. they had achieved what no other group would even attempt, before or since, they had become the world's only expressionist Rock `n` Roll band, harnessing a range of rock and musique concrete elements together in a sound which drew its power from, and worked on, levels of consciousness previously untouched by popular music. The music Ubu made in 1978 was heart and soul, body and mind, in one. Pere Ubu was either ahead of its time or out of step altogether; the band's earliest music sounds as if it could have been recorded yesterday, and is likely to keep sounding that way for some time. While everyone else was figuring out how to market and standardizing "punk/new wave clothing, music, culture, attitude David Thomas "Baby Huey on Acid dressed in Brodrick Crawford suits" was busy revealing an experience that cut through the hype and marketing of prefab denial.

the ubsters

this record will change your life.. i love it.. fast, dynamic, great!

Thank God!

This album is one of the greatest I've ever heard. Everyone should buy it! Top songs are Not Happy and Lonesome Cowboy Dave.

Biography

Formed: August, 1975 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pere Ubu emerged from the urban wastelands of mid-'70s Cleveland to impact the American underground for generations to follow; led by hulking frontman David Thomas, whose absurdist warble and rapturously demented lyrics remained the band's creative focus throughout their long, convoluted career, Ubu's protean art punk sound harnessed self-destructing melodies, scattershot rhythms, and industrial-strength dissonance to capture the angst and chaos of their times with both apocalyptic fervor and surprising...
Full Bio