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David Thomas and the Wooden Birds - The Velikovsky 2-Step

David Thomas is an interesting fellow. He's often portrayed as curmudgeonly, obsessive and controlling, and reading Ubu Projex it's easy to see why. However, read a little deeper and you may find a growing respect for a man who wishes to avoid getting screwed by the music business and to retain creative control over his artistic work.

To me, one of the most fascinating issues he raises is where he writes about "auditioning". "Auditioning for a stranger's approval is a humiliating and demeaning experience... The process by which a consumer discovers a group like Pere Ubu is critical and deeply personal." He's quite right. Our favourite music is often that with which we build a personal connection, the discovery of which becomes part of our history. Randomly downloading a track from an mp3 blog, all else aside, is never likely to become a momentous event. It's just not personal enough. However much we bloggers might want it to be, it's hardly the equivalent of us actually playing the track for you, and saying "Listen to this, it's great and you need to hear it." As a listener, you're deprived of the immediate feedback, of the sense of sharing. So perhaps Mr Thomas would be none too pleased if he were to discover that today's track is one of his. But it is great, and you do need to hear it.

I bought the 1987 album Blame the Messenger by David Thomas and the Wooden Birds because it featured Chris Cutler on drums. Cutler had been the drummer in Henry Cow, and went on to form the excellent Recommended Records label. I always liked that. It was as if the label releases weren't just personally approved by Cutler, but he was actually building trust by the quality of the material. If it was a ploy, it seemed an honest one, and in much the same way I saw the name Chris Cutler on a list of musicians as a stamp of quality. I'd love to think that my own personal recommendations engender the same level of trust as Cutler's, but frankly I think I'd be kidding myself.

But to put all of this rambling aside, here's the album's closing track, The Velikovsky 2-Step. It's a jittery affair, doubtless pulled from catastrophe to catastrophe by the electromagnetic influence of various heavenly bodies. The dinosaur bones of the song lie buried in the musical strata, ready to be unearthed by some brave musical archaeologist. What a find. What a marvellous discovery.

David Thomas and the Wooden Birds - The Velikovsky 2-Step
(alternate download)