I was born a Spud-Boy... Just a reaal Potato!
I was raised on Devo. My father has always been a huge Devo fan, and from an early age, he was sure to indoctrinate me in the ways of De-Evolution. When my friends were watching Disney videos, I was rocking out with Booji Boy, and Devo's short film The Men Who Make the Music. So, it should be no surprise that when I heard Devo were playing Summerstage, I raced to get tickets. I'll be there tonight. So, your musical selections for today, are a couple of Devo's best. For those of you only familiar with Whip It, who call Devo a 1 hit wonder? Prepare to be blown away. For those of you who are familiar with the catalog? Well, I hope I've dusted off a few tracks you haven't heard before.
Devo - Satisfaction (Rolling Stones Cover, Live @ Max's Kansas City, 1977) - This is pulled from Devo Live: The Mongoloid Years, a one disc set that compiles a few shows from Devo's early years. This was Devo's last show as without a label, 5 guys from the "Gruesome Post-Industrial Boot Camp," of Akron, Ohio (Gerald Casles words) - After this show, the band would begin it's Record Label wringer, and begin the career for which they're known. The album also collects a few cuts from Devo's first ever show (Opening for Sun-Ra as part of a radio stations halloween prank, and being assaulted and threatened by hippies as the show goes on (You can hear the death threats!)), and a show a year later, opening for fellow locals The Crypt (Who hated them).
I've always loved Devo's cover of Satisfaction. In the beginning, I didn't know it was a Stones song. I just liked the funny dance mark did for it on Video, along with Praying Hands. In later years though, I rediscovered this cover. It conveys a tense, paranoid, frustration that was always so much more apt for the song than Jaggers sexy swagger. I mean, does Jagger look like a guy who can't get any? More to the point, does he sound like one? His swagger is too strong, his voice too confident. Devo transform the song, with a relentless, metronomic bassline, and Mothersbaugh's deadpan "Hey Hey, That's what I say!" kicking off a tortured, stuttery chorus that screams of the repressed, manic sexual energy that is De-Evolution.
[Buy Devo Live: The Mongoloid Years from Amazon]
Devo - Head Like a Hole (Nine Inch Nails Cover) - I've long held that some of Devo's best material is from the covers section of their catalog. And I've recently been thinking about why. I think it has a lot to do with Mothersbaugh & Co's ability to completely take ownership of any song they cover, and really bring it into line with their own unique manifesto. Not much was needed on this one though. In a beautifully circular event of a band covering a band that, quite frankly, wouldn't have existed without them, the flowerpotted ones have rescued Reznors most covered song from goth oblivion (despite AFI's most recent putrid attempts to pull it back there), and brought it forth in technicolor, yellow jumpsuited glory. The industrial drum machine grind stays, but the synths sound bubblier here, the ambient noise, weirder, and strangely happier, and Mothersbaugh demands cash like a proclamation from General Boy himself.
[Buy Pioneers Who Got Scalped -A Devo Anthology at Amazon!]
I had a few other Devo that I'd considered posting, but I think I'll just pick up after the weekend if the reaction is good. So, if you want more Devo, let me know, and I'll bring back some more on monday!
Have a good weekend folks! I know I will!
(P.S. - anyone going to Ted Leo's East River show tomorrow, drop me a line.)