Raygun Suitcase, Pennsylvania and St Arkansas were written to be a trilogy. That they are grouped in the 'Drive, He Said' box is fitting.
"For the longest time I have considered Mark Twain's 'Life On The Mississippi' to be the Great American Novel. It's influence on my writing began to appear with The Tenement Year. By the 90s I was determined to write my own Great American Novel based on it. That was those three albums. The mistake would be to look for a linear construct. There is no such thing as a 'linear' Ubu story or construction. Pere Ubu winds and snakes back on itself like the Mississippi. There are hidden dangers just below the surface. The boiler might blow at any moment, or the River decide to cut itself a new course through the wilderness."
These three albums were the catalyst finally uniting critics and the establishment to recognize that the band's music was a force to be recognized, prompting a four day David Thomas/Pere Ubu festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London and a three day festival at UCLA in Los Angeles. The Knitting Factory in NYC and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame similarly honored Pere Ubu with special events.
'Raygun Suitcase' was the winner of the 'CD Review' Editors' Choice Award in 1995. 'Pennsylvania' was voted #1 in the 'Village Voice' Music Critics Poll in1998. In 2002, 'Mojo' said, in reaction to 'St Arkansas,' "It's difficult to think of a more important band
"What comes into view is a secret country: barely recognizable, and undeniable. And it's a thrill to hear, now, all of David Thomas's voices swirling around the listener, on the street. Pennsylvania seems to draw out of its own spectral geography and that street can be wherever you find yourself.."
Current band members Michele Temple and Robert Wheeler joined Pere Ubu during the 'Raygun Suitcase' sessions, Steve Mehlman immediately thereafter. It was a defining period for Pere Ubu.
The tracks on 'Back Roads' are:
My Name Is Ellipsis
Electricity (board mix)
The Duke's Saharan Ambitions
Ray Gun Suitcase
The albums were remixed and remastered by David Thomas and Paul Hamann at Suma in 2016 and 2017.
Box packaging designed by John Thompson and Alex Hornsby.
An A3 sized 'Raygun Suitcase' poster designed by Johnny Dromette was included in the box.
"If underground rock had a Hall of Fame that gave awards for influence and creativity, Pere Ubu would be more decorated than Magic Johnson." Rolling Stone, review of 'Raygun Suitcase,' May 1995
"From the beginning they obviously understood the nuts and bolts of popular music, and then loosened them." Mojo, review of 'Pennsylvania,' April 1998
"Uncompromising is an epithet bandied around with frightening abandonment these days, and one which should really only apply to those who strive to push beyond musical boundaries and bend the parameters of modern music. Bands such as 70s art-punk collective Pere Ubu." Kerrang!, review of 'St Arkansas,' August 2003
"David Thomas' cryptic man in black hints at what these things dotted across the land mean." Mojo ****
"The titles Ubu issued during this period are overdue reappraisal; not least 1995's confident Raygun Suitcase which includes the strident Memphis and muscular My Friend Is A Stooge. Though a shade gnarlier, '98's Pennsylvania features the fabulously itchy, Beefheart-esque Fly's Eye and the evocative, David Lynch-ian Perfume. Also above par are '02's St Arkansas which welcomes original Ubu guitarist Tom Herman back into the fold and Back Roads: a mercurial collection of outtakes 'n' oddities which countenances the hypnotic, Krautrock-y My Name Is Ellipses but also condones Thomas' heinous desecration of Brian Wilson's Surfer Girl." Record Collector ****, Tim Peacock