14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2000
Dub Housing, Pere Ubu's second studio album, is arguably the best avant-garde rock album of all time. Modern Dance, the first album, was a tough act to follow, but this manages it and then some. Every track is a prime example of inspired experimentation that forms a whole that is unsettling and dramatic. That's not to say the album is without humour and David Thomas' unique and surreal vocals add a human feel to the sometimes quite alien music that is completely without pomposity. The music itself is hard to describe - it simply has to be heard to be believed. From the jazz punk of 'I Will Wait' to the unbelievably haunting title track and the cinematic brilliance of 'Caligari's Mirror' every track is absolutely faultless. A landmark album that stills sounds absolutely incredible 22 years after release.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2008
As a pretentious 70's teenager I have to confess that the Jarry / Ubu story plus the fact that David Thomas looked like the guy in Eraserhead was a winning combination for me. And the music on this album fits that bill to the T. The surprising thing is that that still holds today ! For me it is the only Ubu album to stand the test of time and judging by the other reviews that seems to be a view held by others. Alongside the Pop Group's "Y" these 2 albums marked a quantum leap as punk became post-punk and a new darker lifeform spawned from the Sex Pistols implosion era. Essential but uncomfortable listening.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Following an early era which under the name Rocket from the Tombs, Pere Ubu were born & released some of the greatest singles of all time: 30 Seconds Over Tokyo & Final Solution, which are collected on Terminal Tower (75-81). 1978 saw the debut album The Modern Dance (which had been recorded over the previous two years), which was rapidly followed up by this album.
The 10-tracks here advance on the sound of The Modern Dance- psychedelic keyboards, alien sounds, guitar drones, suffocating sax & David Thomas's trademark screaming vocals (preceding singers such as Billy Mackenzie, Robert Smith & Black Francis). The title track is as intense as such groups as The Fall, The Pop Group, The Birthday Party & Gang of Four; while On the Surface stands out with its lyrics about "the Iranian sun" as machine noises whir & a Nuggets-style organ recurs: imagine 13th Floor Elevators recording in an abandoned factory & you're close...Caligari's Mirror is inspired by Robert Wiene's 1919 German Expressionist classic Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari & reminds me a little of Husker Du around 1984 (Zen Arcade/New Day Rising)...The rest is as great- I Will Wait, Drinking Wine Spodyody & Ubu Dance Party etc- this is one of the great albums of the 1970s- a period that saw people truly experiment. One to file next to Low, No Pussyfooting, Clear Spot, 154, Cut, Metal Box, Entertainment!, Dragnet, Tago Mago etc...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2010
There's a uniqueness to Pere Ubu's early music that may not be readily apparent. Other bands have been experimental (awful word), the vast majority accessible (for want of a better...), but few have been both. Even fewer have managed to be both on the same record and how many (outside of the Jazz world, at least) on the same song? Pere Ubu made music that is equally accessible and experimental, but in their case not just on the same record, or even on the same song, but at the same time on the same song! And that, in a nutshell, is Ubu: an amazing and continual synergy of sound, between the visceral and the cerebral, the simple and the complex, the known and the unknown. Or, as singer David Thomas more pithily described it: 'avant-garage'.
'Dub Housing' and it's equally brilliant predecessor, 'The Modern Dance' are Pere Ubu's great legacy. On these records they proved being inventive didn't necessarily mean music that is extremely complex, long-winded or difficult to fathom. Their music will likely have an instant impact yet after many plays never be truly 'known'. For a band primarily dealing in the 3/4 minute pop/rock song that is refreshing and rare.
Although Cleveland’s finest, Pere Ubu, were always going to face a significant challenge in bettering their outstanding 1978 debut (and, for me, masterpiece), The Modern Dance, this follow-up (released later the same year) picks up pretty much where the earlier album left off and gets very close. I guess the stunned astonishment caused by the band’s near-unique approach to sound and rhythm is somewhat lessened second time around, but there are still some ‘out there’ moments on Dub Housing, notably on tracks such as Thriller! (I’d love to see someone mistake this for Michael Jackson on a jukebox!) and Blow Daddy-O, both of which provide much scope for Allen Ravenstine to extract trademark blibs, blobs and screeches from his synthesisers and (on the latter tune) for some impressive drumming courtesy of Scott Krauss.
Even when we’re in (superficially, at least) more conventional territory on songs such as the rhythmically dynamic Navvy, On The Surface and I Will Wait, David Thomas’ intermittent warbling and screeching provide plenty of intriguing and, frequently, impassioned moments (with lyrics broadly indecipherable, but with hints of apocalypse or, at least, paranoid dystopia). Elsewhere, each of Caligari’s Mirror and Drinking Wine Spodyody are typical Ubu – quirkily eccentric rhythm, a near-yodelling Thomas with a barely discernible melody, but with just that level of indefinable catchiness. Probably most accessible of all, though, with their intoxicating backing harmony vocals, (yes, really!) are the pairing of the album’s title tune (one to even rank with The Modern Dance’s title tune) and Ubu Dance Party – the latter, undoubtedly a mindboggling concept, whose superficially 'light’ mood is tempered with some typically dark Thomas lyrics, 'I did not see the darkened sky’. And then to close we have the sombre and mesmeric, Codex, lyrically about as close as Ubu could get to a 'love song’, but no doubt with barely disguised darker undertones.
An album which richly rewards repeated listens.
Strange to play a record over 30 years old and it hits a nerve of a 2 year old, but this one did.
Sinister, a little harsh but with a hint of the magical, a commonality of children and those above literate adults.
Pere Ubu conjure convey, and then throw jagged black dancing shapes against a stark white wall, darting around the surface so then you have to make sense of them by yourself. Sculptured wrecks thrown up by Lake Superior emerge from the icy waters, whilst all around i trapped in the deep snowy winter. Within the sun the rusting orange blackened metal slowly turns brown, before it all rots away to the pulse of the Illinois sun. Pere Ubu mine a part of America, others just drive on by and punch the air to.
David Thomas has rediscovered a magical time of childhood, just before life is pre packaged and sold back as a lifestyle commodity. Within this avant garde offering he brings together the random patterns of life to personally make sense of them. As a follow up to the more rockist first, this breaks up the straight lines into sonic splinters.
Formed part of the late 70's early 80's renaissance era, when a hidden culture came alive and strode the land. Now it all lies forlorn, just like the industrial heart belt a mouldering in the mid day Illinois sun, just waiting for those with a bit of wonder to stop driving on by.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2013
Before international acclaim, PERE UBU were a group. Each members contribution
as important as the others. Being in a band is hard. Having David Thomas as the figurehead is harder. This is an album by a group of musicians who were not travelling the well worn path, and is in my opinion their swansong.
It blows away everything the conveyor belt that the industry became in the 80's produced. I hope you have the pleasure of encountering this album in you lifetime.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2009
Dear Reader, this record has been given a Triple A rating (Arrhythmic. Atonal. Asymmetrical) and should be approached with due caution by anyone who values the following: sunlight, warmth, sanity, normality, melody.
A remarkable record in form and texture. While the pipes are bursting in the Winter Gardens, a troupe of mechanical clowns attend a seance. Will they make off with the gold before reason arrives?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This mostly dark album contains some great moments and engages the mind with its sonic experimentation that can perhaps be described as a type of psycho funk rock, more or less along the same lines as Captain Beefheart. Navvy is a burbling ditty, the title track has interesting arrangement with rhythmic and vocal variation whilst Thriller! with its muffled vocals presents quite an eerie soundscape. The tortured vocals of David Thomas have a strange charm, especially on songs like I Will Wait, Drinking Wine Spodyody and the impressive Ubu Dance Party with its rousing build-up. My favorite song on the album is the semi-instrumental Blow Daddy-o that has an ominous and hypnotic instrumental texture with background whispers. The music is art rock with visceral appeal and although Dub Housing is considered a masterpiece, my real rating is three and a half stars. I find their pop album Worlds In Collision far more enjoyable and memorable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 July 2014
Wonderful and quirky