Pere Ubu

Apocalypse Now

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Pere Ubu's third live album is only the second to feature decent sound (the first, 390° of Simulated Stereo, was a compilation of dodgy fan bootlegs and almost equally dodgy board tapes), and it has the added virtue of offering a pretty thorough overview of the band's history, from its first album to its most recent work, including bandleader David Thomas' forays into solo work. In fact, it's Thomas' whimsical "My Theory of Spontaneous Simultude" ("Tony, complete this phrase: 'I am like...'") that opens the program. From the old band book they pull out an inferior version of "Heaven" and the epochal "Non-Alignment Pact" (and append to it an abridged version of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog"). "Caligari's Mirror" goes almost as far back, but there are also fine versions of the poppier and more recent "We Have the Technology" and "Oh Catherine." Guitarist Jim Jones is playing acoustic on this set, but he's got a Rat pedal that he can stomp when he wants to rock out, which gives the album a nice variety of moods and textures -- though the band's segue from the bludgeoning proto-punk of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" to the 6/8 lilt of "Caligari's Mirror" is enough to give you whiplash. David Thomas is in rare form throughout, warbling and hooting in that strangled-penguin voice of his, just sounding like he's having a great old time. You will, too, though neophytes might want to start with the studio albums first.

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