Exposé Online banner

5uu's — Point of Views
(Cuneiform Rune 85, 1987/1996, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1996-08-01

Point of Views Cover art

From the beginning, led by drummer Dave Kerman, 5uu's started out as the west-coast answer to the European RIO music of the day. Their first mini-album Bel Marduk & Tiamat echoes that more challenging and complex musical ethic from a point far outside the progressive mainstream. One might consider their music "experimental," but in fact its elemental constructs are essentially the same as any other progressive rock type music: odd rhythms, unusual time signatures, oblique melodies, conceptual lyrics. The differences are primarily in the arrangements, which can be extremely sparse (intentionally so) using atypical combinations of the basic instruments (two guitars, piano, bass, drums) in even more unusual ways, and in the vocals, sung by Curt Wilson, which tend to harbor a more punky, aggressive attitude a-la Talking Heads. A year later the band would release a single "Misery Loves Company" / "Hot and Cold Frog," which introduces sax player Lynn Johnston (from the Motor Totemist Guild, another LA RIO influenced band with a more modern classical approach), adding a whole new dimension to the 5uu's sound, and providing the seed that would grow into the band's future endeavors.

The next 5uu's album Elements would in fact be a full collaboration with the MTG, with members of both bands playing throughout, resulting in flute, cello, sax, vibes, and various other instruments being integrated into their sound, but the majority of the compositions were still written by Kerman. It also marks the addition of full-time keyboardist Sanjay Kumar. Wilson's vocals take on a less aggressive stance to fit the more tempered nature of the new 5uu's style, with liberal use of multi-part harmonies — one may even be reminded of Godley & Creme or early 10cc at times. Overall, Elements is a far more mature and satisfying work than their first, relying more on instrumental savvy and less on gimmickry, moving the band into a more unique style away from their more typically styled RIO beginnings. One more song, the haunting "Carousel of Progress," would be recorded in '87 for one of the RéR Quarterly releases by the 5uu's proper (without MTG involvement) before their long recording hiatus, which officialy ended in 1990 when 5uu's and MTG joined to become U Totem.

Cuneiform has reissued all of this early 5uu's material on the single CD release Point of Views, including the single and the RéR Quarterly track, all available for the first time in digital format. For those who only know the latest 'trio' version of 5uu's that released Hunger's Teeth in '94 and the ensuing tours, these early works are very different, and show the band in their more formative years with a wider palette of ideas. In all an excellent release that I'm sure most would enjoy.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 10, 1996 releases, 1987 recordings

Related artist(s): 5uu's, Dave Kerman, The Motor Totemist Guild

Latest news

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cul de Sac - Ecim – This four-piece from Massachusetts offers a free-wheeling neo-psychedelic sound that finds itself at home somewhere between current bands bands like Porcupine Tree, and the experimental music of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues