Pere Ubu Playlist (‘Shape of Things to Come’)

Datapanik in the Year Zero (DGC, 1996). A five-CD career survey through 1982, including the 1975 singles “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”/”Heart of Darkness” (with, in the accompanying booklet, Peter Laugh­ner’s “The big man” notes, originally an insert to the 45) and “Final So­lution”/”Cloud 149,” live recordings, and numerous effusions from the band’s original Cleveland milieu, among them “Amphetamine” and “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” by Rocket from the Tombs, “Heart of Darkness” by the so-called Proto Ubu, and a version of the Seeds’ “Pushin’ Too Hard” by Pere Ubu (all 1975). “Down by the River.” B-side, with “Like a Rolling Stone,” of “Oh Catherine” (Fontana, 1991). A live recording (Washington, DC, 1995) is included on the EP Beach Boys See Dee + (Tim/Kerr, 1996). “Down by the River II.” On Ray Gun Suitcase (Tim/Kerr, 1995).

The Hearpen Singles (Tim/Kerr, 1995). A box collecting the band’s first four singles, on their own label, in facsimile 7-inch format.

“Lonesome Cowboy Dave” (Rough Trade, 1980). On Terminal Tower (TwinTone, 1985). The Shape of Things (Hearthan, 2000). “Recorded on cassette April 7 1976,” at the Mistake, Cleveland. The band is Thomas; Laughner; Tom Herman and Tim Wright, bass and guitar; Dave Taylor, organ and synthesizer; and Scott Krauss, drums, playing both sides of Pere Ubu’s first sin­gles, “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Life Stinks,” “Heroin,” and “Doris Day Sings Sentimental Journey.” Onstage Thomas turns into at least a half dozen of himself for “Heart of Darkness,” appearing both as lead singer and as his own chorus of harpies, but halfway through the set, after “Pushin’ Too Hard,” two guys in the audience know the night is up. Speaking of “Mr. Doinel—you know, Truffaut Doinel?” they practice French accents, then English accents: “Band seems to be lacking a bit of energy this evening.” “Bit of something.” “The essence of, ah…”—what they’ve already done. “Three Things.” On Ray Gun Suitcase (Tim/Kerr, 1995).

From The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice, Picador, 2006shape

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