Saturday, August 20, 2016

David Thomas And The Wooden Birds - 1986 - Blame The Messenger

David Thomas And The Wooden Birds
Blame The Messenger

01. My Town 3:20
02. A Fact About Trains 4:20
03. King Knüt 5:30
04. When Love Is Uneven 3:30
05. The Storm Breaks 3:30
06. The Long Rain 4:10
07. Having Time 4:20
08. Friends Of Stone 3:20
09. The Velikovsky 2-Step 6:40

The Wooden Birds
Chris Cutler – drums, production
Jim Jones – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Tony Maimone – electric bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar, backing vocals
Allen Ravenstine – EML synthesizer, piano, backing vocals
David Thomas – lead vocals, accordion

Over the course of five early- to mid-'80s solo albums, Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas indulged his whimsical side, displayed an extreme fascination with nature ("The Birds Are a Good Idea," "Crickets in the Flats," etc.) and offered his theory of "spontaneous simultude" to anybody who was listening, which is to say very few, considering these albums ventured far from the realm of rock -- even rock as Thomas heard it. On Blame the Messenger, Thomas teams with former Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler, fellow Clevelander Jim Jones (guitar), and old bandmates Allen Ravenstine (synths) and Tony Maimone (bass) for an album that is parked firmly in Ubu's avant-garage. As always, the larger-than-life Thomas commands attention, but this album belongs to Jones, who provides Thomas with the anti-guitar heroics he has sorely missed since Tom Herman left the parent band in 1979. In Jones' deft hands, even a lapse into whimsy like "Friends of Stone" works, thanks to a backwards psychedelic solo that would make George Harrison smile. Best of all is the undeniable one-two punch of "King Knüt" and "When Love Is Uneven." Jones' nagging Beefheart-ian riff on the former is followed by the latter's slo-mo verse, climactic chorus, and Ravenstine's brooding synth fills, recalling Ubu's classic "My Dark Ages." Thomas hasn't exorcised all the hokeyness (see "My Town" and "Velikovsky 2-Step") from his system, but, for the most part, Blame the Messenger is a platter that clatters. With the addition of original drummer Scott Krauss, this lineup would be recording as Pere Ubu within the year.