Wednesday, 12 November 2014

7 Inch Singles Collection: Pere Ubu - I Hear They Smoke The Barbecue

A new direction for an old new wave band...


A-side: I Hear They Smoke The Barbecue
B-Side: Invisible Man
(Fontana 1990)

Firstly apologies for the video which is a recent live version, couldn't find a contemporary video, and also has a long spoken intro which isn't on the record.

Pere Ubu, had something of a mystique to their name back in the day. From what I'd understood from bits and pieces in the music press, they were darlings of the American new wave, releasing challenging and difficult records, and being one of the secret delights of the underground. This made me go out and listen to some of their record for this period, and I found out that they weren't as challenging or as different as I hoped - merely a good, but not outstanding post-punk collective.

The release of I Hear They Smoke The Barbecue was their first record in a considerable time and was much anticipated. I bought it at the time in the hope that I would connect better with Pere Ubu than I had before. I was at the time disappointed, and found it dull and ordinary. One of the delights of doing this blog is being able to revise these opinions after the passage of time, and this is one of those records that is a lot better than I remember it. Listening to it now for what it actually is, rather than what I expected it to be has given me a fresh perspective. It's not a towering piece of complex noise, what it is however a superior example of alternative rock, a style that is often referred to as college rock. I Hear They Smoke The Barbecue has a bright, poppy edge to with vocals delivered in an almost laid back soft rock style. The guitar intro is strong and the tune is toe-tapping. Not entirely sure what it's about - people (aliens?) who want to be other people, maybe? There may be an anti-racism message in there, but it's not obvious. Another plus is that it mentions Yogi Bear in the lyrics.

On the other side Invisible Man still has that college rock style, but the structure of the song is a bit more varied, and more in keeping with the band's reputation. The voice is much more distinctive and growlier, and there's some odd noises in the instrumentation, which piques the interest. The rhythm is driving, and I was just starting to really get into it when it ended.

A record that I wasn't really looking forward to listening to, which turns out to be better than I thought, I make that two in row. It's possible that I have better taste than I thought.

Next time prepare to gaze at your shoes...

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