/pere-ubu-tenement-year ART
  • The Tenement Year
  • Something's Gotta Give
  • George Had A Hat
  • Talk To Me
  • Busman's Honeymoon
  • Say Goodbye
  • Universal Vibration
  • Miss You
  • Dream The Moon
  • Rhythm King
  • The Hollow Earth
  • We Have The Technology



The Tenement Year

Pere Ubu
The Tenement Year

Released March 28 1988.
Produced by Pere Ubu and Paul Hamann.

Fire Records FIRELP366W Oct 9 2020
Limited edition, milky vinyl lp

Release Notes

The Tenement Year (1988) was the first Pere Ubu album since Song Of The Bailing Man (1981).

Early in 1987, Pere Ubu was reconstituted in a hotel lobby in Holland. Present were David Thomas, Jim Jones, Allen Ravenstine, Tony Maimone and Chris Cutler. This band was touring twenty-seven European dates as David Thomas and the Wooden Birds.

Negotiations with Fontana Records got underway through the efforts of manager Nick Hobbs. The contract was ready to sign. Pere Ubu concerts were booked.
Scott was asked to sit in at an appearance as second drummer because I was a fan of the Allman Brothers Band and was intrigued by the potential of a two drummer line-up. Scott was asked if he was interested. He was added to the contract. Ubu Projex was revived as a partnership on March 21 1988.
David Thomas
The Tenement Year was recorded for Fontana in November.

The album is a farewell to a hometown. It's narrative perspective is from a perch on top of an abandoned warehouse maybe on West Sixth Street with a view of an urban landscape on the eve of a leaving. Under the streets of the city, mice are scurrying along the rails of the transit train tunnels.

References to Cleveland landmarks, "secret scenes in the cracks of the city," appear throughout. Universal Vibration, for example, was painted on the wall of a machine shop to the south of I-90 just past the old Nike Missile base. It could only be seen if you happened to be facing the right direction as you drove by. It could never be spied by looking for it. To see it was an event to be noted to like-minded friends1.

Production Notes

Mixed by Paul Hamann, David Thomas and Chris Cutler at Marcus Studios, London, January 8 - 13 1988, except George Had A Hat, Dream The Moon and The Hollow Earth (alt mix) which were mixed at Suma in November 1987.
Further overdubs were recorded at Suma in December 1987.

Engineered by Paul Hamann at Suma November 9 - 30, 1987.
Design and photos by John Thompson / idrome.
Band photo by B.C. Kagan.
Re-issue package design by John Thompson / idrome.
Re-issue liner notes by David Stubbs.

All songs written by Cutler - Jones - Krauss - Maimone - Ravenstine - Thomas, ©1988 Ubu Projex.

Director's Cut 2007

The original 1988 Fontana release does not seem to have been mastered. David Thomas and Paul Hamann mastered it January 22-23 2007 at Suma. An alternate mix of Dream The Moon from 1987 was substituted in the running order and five extras were added: the UK b-sides Postman Drove A Caddy and The B-Side, live in the studio recordings of Miss You and We Have The Technology for the John Peel Show (never previously released), and an alternate mix of The Hollow Earth (never previously released). As well, the sound of thunder that was found on the original Suma mix of the tracks was added - there was clearly some intention of including this somewhere for some reason. The packaging has been updated by John Thompson and added are extensive liner notes specific to the album by David Stubbs.

Single and EP Releases

We Have The Technology b/w The B Side and Postman Drove A Caddy . Released July 25 1988.

Pere Ubu (v.5.0)

David Thomas
vocals, trombone, melodeon, spike
Jim Jones
electric guitars, backing vocals
Allen Ravenstine
EML synthesizers, sax, backing vocals
Tony Maimone
bass guitars, backing vocals
Chris Cutler
drums, percussion, noises off
Scott Krauss
drum kit

Guest Player
John Kirkpatrick
Melodeon on Miss You and Busman's Honeymoon.

Release History

  • Fontana Records SFLP5 March 28 1988 lp (UK).
  • Enigma Records 73343, vinyl and cd, 1988 (US).
  • Mercury Records 9846251 Apr 16 2007 cd. Director's Cut.


1. Ancient signs were a Cle feature, for example the Elliot Ness For Mayor sign from 1947. After his time as an Untouchable in Chicago, he was Safety Director in Cleveland (1935 to 1947).Go Back

Press Reaction

Robert Christgau, Village Voice, 1988
So what's astonishing isn't just the high spirits and good faith, both rare enough on reunions, but the singleness of purpose. Pick Hit: A.

Adam Sweeting, The Guardian, 1988
As if a mountainside had learned to play Mendelssohn... Even when they make no literal sense, Ubu have the alluring and deceptive plasticity of a foreign language.

Edwin Pouncey, New Musical Express, 1988
The Tenement Year is this year's manna from heaven. For the cold initiate about to enter this strange world... hold on and enjoy the ride, you've never heard anything like it. A classic.

Jon Pareles, New York Times, 1988
It's still a band that blithely upends all that's solid and foursquare about rock. At the center of Pere Ubu is a garage band, one that can knock out guitar riffs fit for any frat party... Solid as the band can be, it's also likely to dissolve songs from the bottom up. For all Pere Ubu's uncertainty, the band isn't arbitrary; its music has the off-the-wall unity of a Marx Brothers routine.

Steve Hochman, Rolling Stone, 1988
Who else could not only write a song with lyrics that are just "George had a hat but it wasn't where it wasn't at" but also make it sound like a love poem to humanity.

Enigma Press Photo, 1988.

T-shirt, design by John Thompson.