Pere Ubu ends with both a bang and a whimper 


Nearly 45 years ago, a chaotic punk sound unlike any other emerged from Cleveland. Pere Ubu founder David Thomas salted his angular music with references to Martha Graham and Alfred Jarry, while delivering absurdist jeremiads. Last year, when Thomas was critically ill, he crafted 10 moody synthesizer-driven tracks, later augmented by bassist Michele Temple and guitarist Keith Moliné. Cherry Red Records released the resulting album, The Long Goodbye, as a farewell of sorts with a crime-novel theme. But is Ubu really at an end?

The studio portion of the album offers an eerie melancholy in tracks like “Marlowe” and “Flicking Cigarettes at the Sun.” But the CD version carries the real treasure, a bonus live disc of a Montreuil, France, show in December 2018 where the band tries out its songs and covers Neil Young’s rare track “Running Dry.” Thomas has hinted there may yet be an Ubu epilogue, as his health has improved, but this two-disc set provides a melodramatic endpoint.

Fans of Pere Ubu’s original ill-fated guitarist, Peter Laughner, will want to look for Smog Veil Records’ new five-disc set, “Peter Laughner: An Unfinished Life,” which may seem like overkill, though Laughner offers a Syd Barrett-style look into a tormented mind and soul.


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