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Pere Ubu-The Tenement Year


In 1978 I went, at Henry Cow's expense, on an exploratory expedition to America. Henry Cow had planned to play there, but in the meantime we disbanded. However, we thought the USA research would be useful anyway. In San Francisco, The Residents played me a number of records ('You have to hear this...') and one of them was Pere Ubu's '30 seconds over Tokyo', still a hair-raising classic. A week later, in Washington DC, I went to see the group, who by chance had a concert there (in fact, I reviewed it for Sounds in London, I think the first Ubu concert review in the UK). After that, I kept in touch and saw the group whenever I was in America or they came to London. Years later, after Ubu had folded, I heard that their singer, David Thomas, was doing some duo concerts in America with Ralph Carney. At around the same time, Nick Hobbs, Henry Cow's old administrator, became David's manager, and when David arrived in Britain, he invited Henry Cow's Lindsay Cooper to be his European duo partner. I went to see them. Afterwards, David said, hey, you want to play too? For he next 3 years this trio, as David Thomas and the Pedestrians, did numerous concerts and festivals and toured all over Europe and America. After a year or so we added bassplayers- first Phil Moxham, then Jack Monck and finally ex-Ubu Tony Maimone. Lindsay left in 1985. Other ex Ubu's rapidly became involved in the subsequent Thomas projects - Alan Ravenstine and Jim Jones (well Jimmy was an old friend and would have been the next guitar invitee had the band not split) until, by 1987, although we were then called 'The Wooden Birds', the group was effectively Pere Ubu (missing only Scott Krauss). The next time we were in Cleveland we invited Scott to join us too. Now, while canny record companies remained indifferent to 'The Wooden Birds', a simple change of label- to 'Pere Ubu'- made us miraculously and immediately bankable. As David said many times in interviews ' If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck- it probably is a duck'. So I suppose we were Pere Ubu. The band made 2 CD's this way, and it was fun for a couple of years, but I have to admit it was more fun before we had the label and its expectations to be responsible for. I left in 1989, along with Alan Ravenstine. The group is still going strong, but from the original line-up only David now remains.


Second time around: a record contract and advances.


VARIATIONS ON A THEME. Reissued in box HR110
MORE PLACES FOREVER Reissued in box HR11

BLAME THE MESSENGER. Reissued in box HR110

THE TENEMENT YEARS. Fontana 834537-2
CLOUDLAND. Fontana 838237-2

Plus A fistful of ep's, remixes, dance mixes, singles from the above


Outside of the Pedestrian trios and quartets, there were other projects with David. The Accordion Club was one. I was involved in two versions of this ensemble: both trios of accordion, drums and singing with either John Kirkpatrick or Alan Dunn on accordion. There were tours and radio shows - a BBC recording appeared on the Re Quarterly Vol2 No.1 and is still in print on the Quarterly Collection, Volume 2 (ReR QCD2). Another Accordion Club manifestation was a one off show with the extraordinary Agaton twins for the Bari festival. And, now I come to think of it, there was also the one-off Murky Weasels band, with Dave and Don Was, Loudon Wainright, Karl Wallinger and Guy Chambers. I have to say I don't remember much about this, except that it was in London..

ON RECORD BBC show on The Re Records Quarterly Vol 2. Reissued on CD ReRQCD2




A mixture of music, speech, song and theatre, this concert presented part one of 'Mirror man'. Commissioned by the Southbank, London as part of the David Thomas: Disastodrome! Festival, this was David's project and featured some of his best recent texts. It was especially gratifying to work at last with Bob Kidney, an extraordinary singer and to meet Bob Holman. The stage was hung with wreckage and signs, the six musicians on a riser behind a row of chairs half facing front, on which the various singers sat until it was their turn to take the microphone. Through different stories a tale unfolds. David was the interloctor. Bob Holman sat stage left, a kind of Radio/Ether Chorus, and mused out loud. I was also involved in a stripped down version with The Pale boys, David and Linda Thompson in the USA. A more full versions are planned. Part One was released on CD and part two premiered at the 1999 Victo festival (without jackie, Leven, David Hild, Jane Bom Bane and Peter Hammil this time).

Keith Moliné: guitar
Andy Diagram: trumpet
Peter Hammill: guitar, keyboards, harmonium
Jack Kidney: harp, tenor sax
Chris Cutler: drums
- Middleman:
David Thomas: singer, melodeon
- Congregation:
Linda Thompson: singer
Robert Kidney: singer
Jackie Leven: singer
Daved Hild: singer
Jane Bom-Bane: singer
- Chorus:
Bob Holman: poet.



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