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Pere Ubu

Trouble On Big Beat Street

Pere Ubu: Trouble On Big Beat Street (Cherry Red)

The 19th Pere Ubu album brings members from the history and offshoots of the band that initiated in Cleveland with vocalist David Thomas, melded with members Keith Moline and Andy Diagram from Pale Boys, legendary drummer Chris Cutler (Wooden Birds & Pere Ubu), clarinetist & guitarist Alex Ward and bassist Michel Templem, for 17 wide-ranging songs, often eccentric, but always uniquely Ubu.

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product information:

UPC: 5013929188235

Label: Cherry Red
Catalog ID: CDBRED882
Squidco Product Code: 33055

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: E.U.
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded by David Thomas.


David Thomas-lead vocals, keyboards, melodeon, musette, theremin

Keith Moline-guitar

Graham Dowdall-(aka Gagarin) synthesiser, electronics

Chris Cutler-drums, electronics

Alex Ward-guitar, clarinet

Michele Temple-bass, piano, tambourine

Jack Jones-theremin, backing vocals

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Pere Ubu unveil their new album, Trouble On Big Beat Street, nearly four years after their previous record for Cherry Red, The Long Goodbye.

The Modern Dance (1978) marked the end of Rock 'n' Roll. Trouble On Big Beat Street marks the end of The Song. Pere Ubu ended with The Long Goodbye (their last album, also on Cherry Red, from 2019). Pere Ubu begins again with Trouble On Big Beat Street.

If you missed the last 48 years then imagine a badattitude. Imagine Electric Light Orchestra - the version with Roy Wood - then add Muddy Waters playing guitar and Nina Simone singing.

Trouble On Big Beat Street, the 19th Pere Ubu studio album. David Thomas produced, mixed, and engineered it. The CD release includes all 17 tracks recorded during the sessions. Those extra seven tracks were too good to lose but took up too much time to fit on a vinyl release. Pere Ubu is David Thomas, Keith Moline, Gagarin, Alex Ward, Andy Diagram, Michele Temple and Jack Jones.

Keith Moline and Andy Diagram are the two pale boys. They have played with David more than 28 years. Electronica artist Gagarin was soundman for the two pale boys. Michele Temple has been in Pere Ubu 30 years. Improviser and life-long fan Alex Ward submitted a cover version of a David Thomas song to the band's live-streaming show. David invited him to join the band. David met Jack Jones in the pub."-Cherry Red

Artist Biographies

"David Lynn Thomas (born 1953) is an American singer, songwriter and musician based in Great Britain.

He was one of the founding members of the short-lived proto-punkers Rocket from the Tombs (1974-1975), in which he played under the moniker "Crocus Behemoth," and of post-punk group Pere Ubu (1975-present, intermittently). He has also released several solo albums. Though primarily a singer, he sometimes plays melodeon, trombone, musette, guitar or other instruments.

Thomas has described his artistic focus as being the "gestalt of culture, geography and sound". Common themes crop up throughout much of his work, such as the US Interstate Highway system, images of roadside or "junk" tourist culture, Brian Wilson, AM radio, birds, and many others.

Thomas has a distinctive, high pitched voice; Emerson Dameron described Thomas's singing as "James Stewart trapped in an oboe", and Greil Marcus writes, "Mr Thomas's voice is that of a man muttering in a crowd. You think he's talking to himself until you realize he's talking to you."

Thomas was an early member of Rocket from the Tombs, which disbanded after about a year. Along with Rocket from the Tombs guitarist Peter Laughner, he then formed Pere Ubu, which was originally active from 1975 to 1982.

Afterwards, Thomas worked with a variety of musicians including guitarists Richard Thompson and Philip Moxham, and Henry Cow alumni bassonist/oboist Lindsay Cooper and drummer Chris Cutler. Initially, his solo recordings eschewed Pere Ubu's "rock" focus. Lindsay Cooper's bassoon was often prominent, and, when Richard Thompson's guitar was not featured, the guitar would be absent (such as the entirety of 1985's More Places Forever). Thomas's lyrics became increasingly whimsical, and birds became a common theme:

Somewhere along the line, I wrote a song that had birds in it. And then by pure coincidence, another. Some critic asked, "Why all these songs about birds?" And I said to myself, "You think that's a lot of songs about birds?!? I'll show you a lot of songs about birds!" So, for a while, I stuck birds in everywhere I could.

Eventually, several former members of Pere Ubu gravitated into Thomas's group, and by the time of 1987's Blame the Messenger, were sporting a sound distinctly similar to the former band. This fact along with other considerations led directly into the official reformation of Pere Ubu in 1987, and the group has remained active to the present day.

Thomas appears to have been at one point a Jehovah's Witness, an affiliation that has been reflected lyrically in the final song of Pere Ubu's 1979 album New Picnic Time, originally titled "Jehovah's Kingdom Come!" However, in subsequent releases of the album, the song has been re-titled "Hand A Face A Feeling" and then "Kingdom Come"; in the albums' lyric sheet, maintained by Thomas on Pere Ubu's official website, the titular line has been changed to "God's Kingdom Come"; the song itself has been re-mixed to remove references to Jehovah.

Thomas's solo activities were diminished, though not extinguished, by the reformation of Pere Ubu. Throughout the 1980s, Thomas maintained a rotating trio dubbed the Accordion Club, which at various times included John Kirkpatrick, Chris Cutler, Garo Yellin, and Ira Kaplan. While these groupings tended to share a repertoire with Pere Ubu, the focus was smaller. Thomas stated: "I often use the same songs in both projects ... I can explore the stories behind the songs. I can extend/expand/interpolate those stories." Though the Accordion Club never recorded any albums, two songs appeared on Rē Records Quarterly Vol.2 No.1, and it led to the formation of Thomas's current "solo" project, the Two Pale Boys. Devoted to "spontaneous song generation", they feature Keith Moliné on guitar and Andy Diagram on "trumpet through electronics;" both make frequent use of MIDI, giving them a broader tonal palette than might be expected from two instruments. In addition to singing Thomas frequently plays melodeon. Says Thomas:

Pere Ubu is a big rock experience, often overwhelming in its power and intensity of dataflow. It's a Hollywood blockbuster on a cinemascopic screen. Projects like the [Two Pale Boys] are intended as indy arthouse films.

Thomas typically has a large number of ongoing projects at any one time. He has performed in theatrical productions, including several productions by Hal Willner, and a London West End production of Shockheaded Peter. He has delivered his lecture "The Geography of Sound in the Magnetic Age" at Clark University and UCLA, among other venues. He has staged his "improvisational opera" Mirror Man at venues in Europe and North America, featuring at various times contributions from many of his previous collaborators, as well as Linda Thompson, Bob Holman, Robert Kidney, Van Dyke Parks, Frank Black, George Wendt, and Syd Straw. In 2010 he performed with the backing of Australian band The Holy Soul.

Most recently he has alternated recording and performances primarily between Pere Ubu, David Thomas and Two Pale Boys, and the reunited Rocket from the Tombs."

-Wikipedia (

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Keith Moliné: "Guitarist, electronicist in Pere Ubu and other David Thomas-related enterprises ( David Thomas And Two Pale Boys, Pere Ubu, The Pale Orchestra, Two Pale Boys) and the band Prescott. Laptopper with requisite beard. Writer for The Wire magazine. Educator, of sorts."

-Keith Moline Website (

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"Graham ' Dids ' Dowdall aka Gagarin has been making music on the edges of the musical galaxy for many years in many guises. As Gagarin he works alone crafting instrumental electronica that doesn't adhere to any particular scene or style and draws on influences ranging from contemporary classical to techno and every point in between and beyond. The music is atmospheric, melodic and sometimes beaty characterised by a combination of field recordings, gorgeous synth melodies, tough abstract beats and a sophisticated yet accessible approach to composition.Gagarin has released several albums on his own Geo imprint as well as contributing tracks and remixes to a large number of compilations and releases by other acts.His latest album Aoticp was released in Summer 2015 and follows the much acclaimed Biophilia in 2011.

As well as Gagarin, Dids is also a member of avant rock legends Pere Ubu for whom he provides digital synthesis, keys and samples , a duo Roshi feat. Pars Radio with Iranian songstress Roshi who create what has been described as " Welsh-Iranian folktronica ", another duo Low Bias with Rothko leader Mark Beazley and is an occasional member of world beat pioneers Suns of Arqa. He has also released a cassette Outside Broadcast in his given name Graham Dowdall for Touch's cassette imprint Tapeworm.Graham is also a busy and highly respected Community Musician, Lecturer at Goldsmiths and Trainer, using his musical skills for the benefits of disadvantaged groups across the country.

A boy soprano in his early youth he turned to drumming in teenage years before a short career as a community lawyer.Returning his attentions to full-time music making in 1980 with Abracadabra Fools Theatre early adventures in cult Manchester band Ludus were followed by a sustained period playing and co-writing with the legendary Nico of the Velvet Underground. He's since recorded and collaborated with John Cale, Suns of Arqa, Eric Random, David Thomas & Pere Ubu, Bill Pritchard, Roshi feat Pars Radio, Low Bias, Raf and O and many others and has played festival, club and other gigs across the globe for the last thirty five years.The Gagarin project was started in the late 90's following trips to Russia which included playing at the Tabyk shamanist music festival in Yakutsk and the notorious Britronica festival in Moscow.

He's been working with David Thomas and Pere Ubu since the early 2000s, initially as a guest in 2 Pale Boys then as Sound Mixer before being invited to fully join the band for the last 4 albums (Long Live Pere Ubu, Lady from Shanghai, Carnival of Souls and 20 years in a Missile Silo), numerous European and UK tours and special projects.

Roshi featuring Pars Radio started around 2007 and have released two full length albums plus several EPs, singles and contributions to compilations. Gagarin helped Roshi to realise a re-scoring of Mary Pickford's Amarilly of Clothes Line Alley at the Southbank, produces the records and contributes beats, field recordings and atmospheres to complement Roshi's ethereal voice, keyboards and songwriting.

In the Suns of Arqa he has provided beats and more alongside Youth, Pritam Singh, Arqa founder Wadada and Angel A at festivals including Glastonbury, Big Chill, Eden and others.

Low Bias have released two albums - the Oak and the Ash, and Spores.

Gagarin is also in demand as a remixer making his unique mark on tracks by a wide range of artists including Robert Logan, You are Wolf, Weird Gear, Blk w Bear, Hybernation, Spaceheads, Cuz and many more.A regular on the UK live electronica scene, in recent times he's played pretty much every event that has arisen in that scene across the country and beyond. His unique live approach uses a combination of hardware samplers, drumpads, effects and ipads enabling him to re-interpret compositions through improvisation into abstract atmospheres, thundering beatscapes and a myriad of other soundworlds."

-Graham Dowdall Website (

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"Chris Cutler started messing about with banjo, guitar and trumpet at school, settling for drums and playing shadows and other instrumental covers in his first band in 1963. Subsequently he played in R'n'B and Soul Bands, winding up in 1967 playing in London's psychedelic clubs. At the start of the seventies, with Dave Stewart, he co-founded The Ottawa Music Co, a 22 piece Rock composer's orchestra, eventually joining British experimental group Henry Cow with whom he toured, recorded and worked in dance and theatre projects until it's demise in 1978. In 1977 Henry Cow, The Mike Westbrook Orchestra and Frankie Armstrong formed a big-band and toured around Europe. After Henry Cow, Cutler went on to co-found a series of mixed national groups Art Bears, News from Babel, Cassiber, The (ec) Nudes, P53 and The Science Group. He was a permanent member of American bands Pere Ubu, Hail and The Wooden Birds and now works sporadically with John Rose, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Iancu Dumitrescu, Peter Blegvad and Stevan Tickmayer.

Other lasting collaborations have included Aqsak Maboul (Belgium), Lussier/Derome and Les Quatre Guitaristes (Canada), The Kalahari Surfers (Africa), Perfect Trouble (Germany), Between (Sweden), N.O.R.M.A., (Italy), Telectu (Portugal), Mieku Shimuzu (Japan),The Hyperion Ensemble (Romania), The Film Music Orchestra, 'Oh Moscow', Gong, The Work and Towering Inferno (UK), The Residents (USA), and stateless Tense Serenity and Mirror Man. There have also been countless improvisational groupings and solo performances. Recent projects include Radio pieces with Lutz Glandien and Shelly Hirsch, Live Soundtrack for Carl Dreher's Vampyr (with Italians Musci and Venosta), his Timescales project and work with David Thomas and Linda Thompson.

He also founded and runs the independent label and distribution service ReR/Recommended and, until 1991, the East European specialist label Points East. He is editor of the New Music magazine Unfiled and author of the theoretical book File Under Popular as well as of numerous articles and papers published in 14 languages. He lectures intermittently on theoretical and music related topics. He has appeared on more than 100 recordings."

-Chris Cutler Website (

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"Alex Ward was born in 1974. He is a composer, improviser, and performing musician. His primary instruments are clarinet and guitar, and he has also performed in public and on recordings on alto sax, piano/keyboards, bass guitar, and as a vocalist. He was based in Oxford from 1992-2000, and since then has lived in London.

His involvement in freely improvised music dates back to 1986, when he met the guitarist Derek Bailey. As an improviser, he was initially principally a clarinettist (sometimes also playing alto sax), but since 2000 he has also been active as an improvising guitarist. On both instruments, hIs longest-standing collaborations in this field have been with the drummer Steve Noble.

From 1993 to 2001, most of his activity as a composer took place in collaboration with Benjamin Hervé, mainly in the context of the rock band Camp Blackfoot. From 2002-2005, his writing was mostly done solo, and was primarily focused on songs. Since 2006, he has been heavily involved in both solo and collaborative composition, predominantly (though not exclusively) of instrumental music. Much of his writing and performing during this time has been done with Dead Days Beyond Help, a duo with drummer Jem Doulton. He also currently leads a number of bands including Predicate, Forebrace, The Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet, and Alex Ward & The Dead Ends.

He has been a member of many other groups including ensembles led by Eugene Chadbourne, Simon H. Fell and Duck Baker, and has also done various work as a session musician and in collaboration with other media. Since 2005, he has co-run the label Copepod Records with composer/performer Luke Barlow. He does the recording, mixing and/or mastering of most of his own music, and for many of the groups he plays in." (

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"Michele Temple b. 1959 in Van Wert, Ohio. Former Clevelander, Michele now lives in New York City where she produces music, does session work, composes music for film and other events, performs, teaches, and engages in all manner of recording related activities as part of the Urban Iguana Music Production team. Michele is bass and guitar sideplayer and producer for various local artists including Marni Rice and Le Garage Cabaret featuring Ramones producer Daniel Ray, and Joni MItchell interpretive artist Hannah Reimann. She was also part of the hip hop production team the Jettsonz, producers of Nina Sky. Michele teaches at the Brooklyn Conservatory where she counts among her former students multi-Grammy winning artist Alicia Keys.

Michele is a guitar sub in the pit of the Broadway production of Wicked, and was also in the pit for a one night revival of the Broadway production of Once on This Island. She has appeared at Lincoln Center with Armenian vocalist Sophia Gazarian and at the Apollo Theatre with Sony recording artist Amel Larrieux. Michele received her Masters Degree in Musicology from Cleveland State University in 1997.

Academic publisher Edwin Mellon Press chose to release Michele's Master's Thesis, her first book, The Influence of Middle Eastern Music on Late Medieval Italian Dances, in the fall of 2001. The Dance Perspective Foundation awarded her book a prize the next year for the most original work on dance published in English in the year 2001.

While in Cleveland Michele worked with Scott Krauss, Jim Jones, and Robert Wheeler in the Pere Ubu spin-off Home and Garden, and with her own band The Vivians which included Scott Benedict, drummer on Raygun Suitcase, and Steve Mehlman, current drummer for Pere Ubu.

Michele has been playing with Pere Ubu since 1993 and has appeared on Raygun Suitcase, Pennsylvania, St. Arkansas, Why I Hate Women and its accompanying Why I Remix Women, "Long Live Pere Ubu!", Lady From Shanghai, Carnival of Souls, various other live cds and cd-roms, and in a whole bunch l(really I've lost count) of live shows. She is involved in the Pere Ubu Film Group providing live soundtrack music for films."

-Ubu Projex (

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Track Listing:

1. Love is Like Gravity 5:43

2. Moss Covered Boondoggle 4:07

3. Crocodile Smile 6:16

4. Movie in My Head 2:44

5. Nyah Nyah Nyah 2:30

6. Worried Man Blues 7:16

7. Let's Pretend 2:51

8. Satan's Hamster 2:33

9. Crazy Horses 3:11

10. Uh Oh 3:51

11. 76 BPM 3:27

12. Pidgin Music 4:35

13. Nothin But A Pimp 3:14

14. Sleep 4:14

15. From Adam 7:25

16. I Dont Get It 2:14

17. Goodnight 2:17

Related Categories of Interest:

Rock and Related
RIO (Rock in Opposition)
Song Based Music
Improvised Rock
Improvised Music
Quintet Recordings
New in Rock Forms
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