PERE UBU – ” 30 Seconds Over Tokyo/Heart Of Darkness “

Posted: February 6, 2022 in MUSIC
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Meet the artier half of legendary Cleveland protopunks Rocket From The Tombs. The “fuck art, let’s rock” components became the Dead BoysPere Ubu introduced themselves with one of the earliest independent American punk singles, though it isn’t modern textbook punk. “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” is over six minutes of a rumbling reggae rhythm, a serpentine lead guitar line courtesy of founder Peter Laughner. On top, singer David Thomas mumbles an intense psychodrama from the viewpoint of a WWII fighter pilot in the Doolittle Raid, about to drop molten revenge on Japan for Pearl Harbor: “No place to run/No place to hide/No turning back on a suicide ride.”

This highlights brilliant guitar work by Peter Laughner. If someone told me that early Wire by way of Black Sabbath with the tempo slowed down to a dirge. Alternatively: if someone told me that early the Fall by way of Black Sabbath with the tempo slowed down to a dirge was going to outdo the Fall before I heard this song, but here we are. Like early Roxy Music and Brian Eno, Pere Ubu base their music on abrupt contrasts, alternating between comparatively subdued and intense passages, and their debut single is Exhibit A (for more than the obvious reasons). “Heart of Darkness” definitely goes down easier between the two, a relatively conventional krautrock track with a more militant tone than most Ubu; ‘I don’t see anything that I want’ is surely a line for the times, and the attempts at a more triumphant upward surge in the chorus sections is sort of invigorating.

Such graphic depictions of what it would feel like to command an aircraft in WW2 too: “A metal dragon lost in time”; “Dark flak spiders bursting in the sky”; “Toy city streets crawling through my sights”; “No turning back on a suicide ride.” (That being said, I never liked “Sprouting clumps of mushrooms like a world surreal”: too on the nose.)

“This dream won’t ever, ever end / And time seems like it’ll never begin” = death incarnate.

It feels dirty to say that one of the best post-punk songs came out in 1975,

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