There isn't a Pere Ubu recording you can imagine living without. The Modern Dance remains the essential Ubu purchase (as does the follow-up, Dub Housing). For sure, Mercury had no idea what they had on their hands when they released this as part of their punk rock offshoot label Blank, but it remains a classic slice of art-punk. It announces itself quite boldly: the first sound you hear is a painfully high-pitched whine of feedback, but then Tom Herman's postmodern Chuck Berry riffing kicks off the brilliant "Non-Alignment Pact," and you soon realize that this is punk rock unlike any you've ever heard. David Thomas' caterwauling is funny and moving, Scott Krauss (drums) and Tony Maimone (bass) are one of the great unheralded rhythm sections in all of rock, and the "difficult" tracks like "Street Waves," "Chinese Radiation," and the terrifying "Humor Me" are revelatory, and way ahead of their time. The Modern Dance is the signature sound of the avant-garage: art rock, punk rock, and garage rock mixing together joyously and fearlessly.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John Dougan