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Pere Ubu: Long Live Pere Ubu!

The notion of mixing music and theatricality often brings to mind the enormous bombast of the likes of Queen and Meatloaf, or the faux operatic vocal pyrotechnics of power metal. As they have always done in their 16-album career in awkwardness, Pere Ubu take a different path. The theatre of Long Live Pere Ubu! is more akin to a twisted burlesque or Punch and Judy show than to Wagner or Verdi's sweeping musical grandiosity. Abrasive guitar parts compete with clattering drums in the accompaniment of a host of voices that guide the listener through the adaptation of Ubu Roi, the stage play from which Pere Ubu take their name, like a choir of harpies and demons whispering in the listener's ear. It is low-key, insidious, sinister and stark.

It is also very, very, good. The jarring instrumentation is challenging and interesting throughout, and is never allowed to sit in the background behind the vocals, but those vocals are undoubtedly the album's greatest strength. Dripping with character, a huge range of vocal trickery that fleshes out the tale of decadence never slips into silly-voice territory. Instead simply squeezing ever last ounce of personality from the odious characters they portray, the scathing tone in the tale of loathsome and corruptible rulers is perfectly judged.

Albums such as these though, can suffer for focusing too heavily on the narrative, thus sacrificing a musical consistency. Long Live Pere Ubu!, however, deftly manages to walk the tightrope of following a tight narrative without wallowing in shoehorned exposition.

Make no mistake, Long Live Pere Ubu! is not a pretty or a gentle album. It doesn't create lush aural vistas, it doesn't have delicate beauty and the vocals are certainly not of the shivers-down-the-spine variety. If anything, it sounds something like the twisted love child of an avant-garde classical piece and a bawdy political satire. But, quite frankly, what's wrong with that?

Track list:
1. Ubu Overture
2. Song Of The Grocery Police
3. Banquet Of The Butcher
4. March Of Greed
5. Less Said The Better 2
6. Big Sombrero (Love Theme)
7. Bring Me The Head
8. Road To Reason
9. Slowly I Turn
10. Watching The Pigeons
11. The Story So Far
12. Snowy Livonia
13. Elsinore & Beyond

Added: January 7th 2010
Reviewer: Richard Wheelhouse
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3964
Language: english

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