Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|David Thomas, Foreigners|
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Listen to Samples
Solid entry from Ubu frontman, but we know he can do better!
Matthew F. Watters | Seattle, WA USA (when in Seattle, please visit my | 04/20/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The recorded career of David Thomas may be readily divided into four main periods: I. The first era of Pere Ubu from the mid-1970's to their 1983 breakup. From the Datapanik e.p. and the Modern Dance LP to Song of the Bailing Man, Thomas and his cohorts made masterpiece after masterpiece, mixing rock, fractured funk, blues, folk, and sound and noise sculptures to become the energized Captain Beefheart for the punk and post-punk era. Everything from this period is essential (and is conveniently collected in a nifty box set). II. The David Thomas solo albums of the 1980's. I particularly like More Places Forever with its unique oboe/bass/drums line-up, and, in general, the music on all these records is very adventuresome, while the uniquely poetic world view of Thomas is brought to the fore. Great stuff, available on the import box set Monster. III. The Pere Ubu reunion and Great Pop Experiment. Pere Ubu reunited in 1987 to make Tenement Year, one of its finest albums in its old, densely arranged, bizzaro-style, then made a conscious decision to "sell out" by trying its hand at a pop record while still maintaining the Ubu vision. The result was arguably their masterpiece, the wonderful Cloudland (which, if you ask on the right day, is my all-time favorite album--and, of course, it's out-of-print). David Thomas allowed his love of Brian Wilson to finally show through in the vocal choruses and shiny, happy melodies--while Pere Ubu (particularly synthesizer colorist Allen Ravenstine, who left the Ubu fold, alas, after this record) never sounded better as a band. And, yet, beneath the pop sheen, it still managed to be quintessentially Pere Ubu, all dark and weird and unsettling. The core Ubu group of Thomas, Tony Maimone, and Scott Krauss, along with guitarist Jim Jones, a major presence in this second great period of Pere Ubu, made two more albums in this "pop" vein, each a little weaker than its predecessor, before the lack of commercial success made this experiment in selling out seem like a blind alley. IV. The "faux" Pere Ubu albums and the David Thomas solo projects of the 1990's, mostly interchangeable to these ears and largely disappointing. The last two Ubu albums, with Thomas the only remaining original member, are densely produced, rather tuneless, and mostly unpleasant. Barely worthy of the Ubu name. Thomas' solo projects have been a little more rewarding, although last year's Mirror Man, a "soundtrack" of sorts to an avant garde theater/nouveau folk music project in which guest vocalist sat around a "campfire" and each came forward to recite or sing a Thomas song--making a cycle of some sort the meaning of which entirely escaped me--was notably awful.Thomas' only artistic statements of any merit, therefore, in the past decade for chrissakes are 1996's Erewhon and this new record, Bay City. Both give co-billing to new musical collaborators (Man is billed as David Thomas and Two Pale Boys, while Bay City is credited to David Thomas and Foreigners, to winkingly acknowledge the European nationality of his latest collaborators), but there isn't that much musically going on on either record, certainly in light of the groundbreaking and innovative stuff in Thomas' past. Brought into high relief, therefore, is Thomas' intriguing poetry and utterly unique (and continually impressive) vocal instrument. A couple of songs on the new Bay City touch on some of Thomas' favorite poetic imagery (I love the way, like a great writer, he has developed a personal symbology and pet themes over the decades): "Salt," for instance, is an one of his masterful impressionistic sketches with urgently whispering voice intimately miked against a surging and ominous rhythm track. An impressive moment on a good but not great album that I would recommend to long-time fans. It's certainly the strongest David Thomas recording since the last album of the original Pere Ubu line-up, 1993's Story of My Life. It simply remains disappointing that an artist of this stature, who has bravely soldiered on in spite of much commercial neglect (thank God for European and Japanese fans), hasn't really moved his art forward in over a decade. Whether he needs to reunite with his old Pere Ubu cohorts, with whom he made such monumental music, or find some musical collaborators worthy of him, that truly great album we know Thomas still has in him is way overdue."
As nutritious as beets w/out the aftertaste
Stephen Beaupre | Two rights, then a left. | 04/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The short version: Buy this now. Those who know, know. Thosewho stumble upon this biscuit are advised that David Thomas is theprovocateur behind Cleveland's finest, Pere Ubu. On this disc, he teams with sympatico Danish "foreigners" to create a beautiful sonic landscape of longing, coffee, and persistent precipitation. God, that sounds stupid. Let me start over. As much as I try not to let the wash of popular culture influence my reaction to individual acts of creativity, I gotta testify. Pick up Rolling Stone and you can see the dig in progress. Content-free radar blips (such as No Doubt) are rewarded for showing up and wearing the latest rubber pants. Elder rock statesman such as Lou Reed and Bob Dylan have their feet held to the fire for trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Meanwhile, tremendously-cool music like this is all but ignored. And I think I know why. What, after all, would RS say about this? There is no hair style for context, no co-branded athletic wear to display on the tour banner. If they had to review it, they would be lost. They might even resort to mentioning longing, coffee, and persistent precipitation."