PERE UBU The Modern Dance (Get Back)

This is a welcome vinyl reissue of the 1978 debut waxing from this band of Ohio avant gardeners, courtesy of the caring, sharing Italian label Get Back (who have also been responsible for, among other delights, repressing lost works from The Yardbirds, Pearls Before Swine and Sun Ra). The Pere Ubu sound starts off equal parts Roxy Music and Captain Beefheart but, being a product of its times, branches towards the then-burgeoning punk and new wave scene, seemingly predicting the direction later taken by Joy Division and Public Image Ltd. What sets it apart is the scratchy atonality of David Thomas' vocals - way more, er, 'expressive' and 'individual' than anything ever spat out by John Lydon - and the random fuzz and distortion that envelopes the songs from time to time. Tracks like "Non-Alignment Pact" are almost pop, albeit some twisted, hellish, nightmare vision of the genre, whilst at the other extreme "Sentimental Journey" belies its title by seemingly consisting substantially of a tape loop of breaking glass (not dissimilar to the close of Joy Division's "I Remember Nothing"). I can't say I enjoy listening to this album - it's far more oppressive than anything recorded by Captain Beefheart, for example - but nevertheless its place in rock history is assured.