Cleveland’s Pere Ubu, led by the one of a kind (thank heavens?) David Thomas, is featured here in a concert recorded December 7, 1991, at Chicago’s Shuba’s Nightclub. The show was mainly acoustic (except for a blistering “Non-Alignment Pact”/”I Wanna Be Your Dog” medley), so the songs must stand or fall on their own merits of structure, melody, and form, instead of cowering behind walls of noise and sonic trickery as Ubu was at times wont to do in the studio. For the most part, they stand well, in some cases (“Heaven” and “Cry Cry Cry”) they sound better at a lower volume, where you can understand what the hell Thomas was growling about. This is the version of Pere Ubu featuring Jim Jones on guitar, Scott Krauss on drums, Eric Drew Feldman (from Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band) on “Honky Tonk upright” and Tony Maimone on guitar and bass. For a fan of the seminal noise rock group, this more relaxed album will be appreciated for its new ways of hearing old songs. For the novice, this is a good way to dip your toe into the waters that David Thomas and his compatriots have been stirring up for years. Beware, however: The water is often cold, and has a vicious undertow. Swim at your own risk.
Thirsty Ear Recordings, 274 Madison Ave., Suite 804, New York, NY 10016; http://www.thirstyear.com