Tar and Its Singles

Tar and Its Singles

There’s really no way I would have stumbled onto Tar at this point. Granted, the trio was one of a buncha Chicago bands affiliated with the Am Rep stable dealing in rock cum punk and noisome disturbance. Surely, Tar’s albums come in somewhere around the midway point of Hüsker Dü and Pavement, but with less of a unique take on things.

The reason I ran into this group, though, is that on its forth single, the 1990 Solution 8, the band goes and covers “Non-Alignment Pact” by Cleveland’s own weirdoes, Pere Ubu. That Ohio band’s been covered a few times in the past – including takes by Living Colour and Seattle’s Mudhoney. Seeing as the Ubus were a relentlessly singular group, for a few years until Mayo Thompson showed up, at least, it becomes relatively difficult to cover the band and do it well.

In each group’s attempts, there’s an understandable urge to redefine whatever composition’s being versioned, but in Tar’s case, sticking close to the original resulted in a weird stew. Tossing in an expletive, something Ubu’s David Thomas didn’t do frequently, works to the band’s disadvantage as does guitar feedback approximating a synthesizer during the song’s opening moments. It’s not a bad effort – in fact, the song’s maybe the best approximation of the CLE group – but by the time it’s over, The Modern Dance feels like it should be listened to in its entirety. Either way, the ‘A’ side, “Solution 8” sounds like its gonna be a hardcore track, but winds up in Hüsker’s territory. That’s not really a snub, just a fact.