THE ART OF WALKING was as startling a release in 1980 as The Modern Dance had been in 1978 and 30 Seconds Over Tokyo in 1975. It confounded all expectations. Just as Rough Trade Records and English punk was busying itself forging a pact with the devil, The Art of Walking threw down a gauntlet, Live Free Or Die.
Ian Penman, in New Musical Express, wrote "It is obvious that (the history of) Pere Ubu should not be thought of in terms of a linear development-- reducing its entire operation and presence to an exclusive concern for 'working and succeeding in' rock and roll. Unfortunately, most criticism-- of Pere Ubu, of many other folks-- assumes that words have one meaning, that desires point in a single direction, that ideas are logical; it ignores the fact that the world of language, noise and desire is one of lack, insecurity, interruption, struggle, blundering, disguises, ploys, embarrassed grins."
Dave McCullough, Sounds, wrote "So, things being as they are, we're supposed to keep our eyes firmly closed when a record as exciting and as funnily subversive as 'The Art of Walking' comes around...If [it] is difficult then I'm much much cleverer than I thought, and every other 'successful' music I've heard this year in comparison must be roughly equivalent to sticking your thumb in your mouth and sucking long and hard... The only way [it] isn't a record full of much excitement, fun and compelling interest is if you don't want it to be so."
Chris Cutler wrote of it, "Ubu are moving even further from the conventions of rock music -- and from their own past-- but still moving forward, without a doubt, and losing none of their integrity as a group. Much of the music operates like a loose-bound net, where apparently hardly connected parts can co-exist, somehow still adding up at the end to an irreducible whole... this is a record of unique beauty-- a beauty marked by truth and thus also tragic and sometimes painful."
SONG OF THE BAILING MAN, released two years later, was conceived as a sort of bookend, a 180-degree spin on collective heels.
David Fricke, Melody Maker, wrote "Song of the Bailing Man is an inspired, invigorating, confounding, disturbing... yeah, one hell of a swinging way to go. Still the futility Ubu must have felt making far sighted music in a chronically near-sighted world is pressed hard into these grooves."
During this period Pere Ubu spoke of the need to purge its audience, to purify it with fire. No one would survive who failed to recognize that musical style, outward shape, was an irrelevancy. Ironically, this same period featured the most commercial, pop-oriented live shows the band has yet to achieve in its 25 year history.
Mayo Thompson, from Texas psychedelic legends Red Krayola, replaced Tom Herman in 1980 and was the guitarist for the period covered by these albums. The disks are produced from the masters created by David Thomas and Paul Hamann during the 1994 digital transfer and eq at Suma.