8:55: safe on the bus

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.(applied to various preparations containing opium): modern Latin, the name given by Paracelsus to a costly medicament of which opium was believed to be the active ingredient; perhaps a variant of Latin ladanum (see labdanum ). If you are a regular reader on the bleachers, you will be aware of my rumbling fascination with Cleveland, Ohio of the mid seventies, and Pere Ubu in particular.

As I wrote here previously: \”With the notable exception of Television, specifically the intertwining guitars of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, there was no other band outwith the suburban hinterland of Ohio with a remotely similar vision throughout that time. At times a virus infected spider scrabbling over shards of brittle glass, at others a bleak mushrooming nerve agent, the corpulent presence of Thomas and the nihilistic but hugely inventive experimental tones created by Laughner coalesced into a cold blue flame licking out broken windows in the seedy bars of Cleveland to ignite pockets of interest outwith even America.

You can hear the corrosive influence of Thomas and Laughner in groups like Wire; Gang of Four; Joy Division; Throbbing Gristle; and a hundred lesser talents besides. The debt owed not just to New York but to the suppurating heart of America\’s midwest cannot be overestimated.

That creeping sense of dread and threat of exposure like a flat stone lifted away from a seething mass of insect activity can be heard even in the post Pistols co-operative formed between Lydon and Jah wobble and Keith Levene in the aftermath of that disasterous US tour. Not everyone escaped 1977\’s final reckoning. Even as John Simon Ritchie chose to explore the junkie milleau of the rotten Big Apple hand-in-hand with his new girlfriend rather than return to face the music back home in London, the nest of used syringes and cotton wadding he set up home in led him further down the never fully insulated path which already claimed Peter Laughner in the summer of the previous year in NYC\’s cancerous districts. Quick to raise speculation as to whether his death through acute pancreatitis resulting from substance abuse might not have been self inflicted, Laughner\’s closest friend Lester Bangs went on record to scotch the rumour. The Ubu guitarist and fellow Creem freelancer had just prior to his end made plans to return to the quiet of rural Ohio to stage a recuperation and had been in good spirits. David Thomas steered Pere Ubu on to record a debut album for Blank Records in same year as Ritchie\’s demise – the outstanding \”The Modern Dance\” – and \”Dub Housing\” (Thomas\’s oft quoted personal favourite) for Chrysalis Records, but those early Cleveland recordings were never truly equaled.\”

Released 1978; Recorded November 1977. Produced by Pere Ubu and Ken Hamann.

Tom Herman: guitar; Scott Krauss: drums; Tony Maimone: bass; Allen Ravenstine: synthesizer; David Thomas: vocals.

\”Down to the bus into the town our poor boy can\’t get around.

Ill-advisedly, I have recently taken to wearing leisurewear. A hideous sight. Smelling salts have been recommended; laudanum prohibited. PERE UBU: THE MODERN DANCE from \”The Modern Dance\” LP (Blank) 1978 (US) BUY THE MODERN DANCE REMASTERED UBU PROJEX: BUYER\’S GUIDE TO PERE UBU


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