Elitism for the People

In the mid-to-late-1970s, when most Midwestern teenagers were feasting on a steady diet of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll from dick-swinging frontmen, there was something happening in Ohio intent on undermining all that. Pere Ubu formed in 1975 from the ashes of Rocket from the Tombs at a time when bands like Devo, Electric Eels and the Dead Boys (also an offshoot of RFTT) were seeping from Ohio's major cities. These bands were punk rock at heart, but there was an underlying weirdness to them. Pere Ubu's Midwestern grittiness and Dadaist experimentalism is captured on Elitism For the People 1975-1978, which covers the band's important early existence. It begins with “Non-Alignment Pact,” the first song from their 1978 debut The Modern Dance. That song alone illustrates how far ahead of its time Pere Ubu really was—a compact, yet freaky, punk rock jag that came out the same year Saturday Night Fever was doing the hustle around the world. Elitism For the People also includes 1978's Dub Housing as well as early singles like “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” and “Heart of Darkness.” It was the beginning of Pere Ubu's left-of-center path, one that thankfully continues to this day.