After the grand experiments of Cloudland and Worlds in Collision failed to make Pere Ubu the darlings of America's youth, 1993's Story of My Life found them in less polished studio circumstances, though they were still in a new and different form. Pere Ubu had been pared down to a quartet when they recorded Story of My Life, and while guitarist Jim Jones, bassist Tony Maimone, and drummer Scott Krauss all manned various pieces of noisemaking equipment in the absence of Allen Ravenstine (and producer Al Clay added keyboards), this is still an uncharacteristically lean-sounding Pere Ubu album, dominated by Jones' guitars and leaving plenty of open space for Maimone and Krauss to shine through. In many respects, Story of My Life finds David Thomas sounding a great deal freer and more playful than he had on Ubu's two previous albums, but without an adversary to battle against as he had on Worlds in Collision, there aren't any moments of unexpected genius like "I Hear They Smoke the Barbecue" or "Oh Catherine," either. However, the opening track of Story of My Life -- "Wasted," which starts out as some sort of damaged sea shanty and suddenly mutates into grand-scale guitar rock -- shows that regardless of what challenges faced them in the studio, Pere Ubu never failed to deliver the goods, and the head-scratching travelogue of oddities in "Postcard," the slightly fractured folk-rock of "Kathleen," and the childhood nostalgia of the title track are superb examples of Ubu's witty side. If Story of My Life feels in retrospect like a stepping stone between Ubu's art pop period and their return to classic form with 1995's Ray Gun Suitcase, it also brings together some of the virtues of both sides of their aural personality, and it's a slightly flawed but underappreciated gem.
Story of My Life Review
by Mark Deming