DEVO Hardcore Volume Two

This second set of obscurities is pretty awesome but not as good as Hardcore Volume One. I certainly recommend buying at least the first four DEVO albums as they are very much in print and very entertaining.

Because I said all I needed to say on De-evolution here, I thought I would let Scott Myers, a regular Last Days reader, comment on the Akron Spudboys:

The point you made about Devo becoming uncool when you were young and being a band of ridicule for “real” punkers…Around the time Devo came to the wider public’s attention in the States around 1978 (after doing “Jocko Homo” on Saturday Night Live) the squares then adopted the band’s name as a word to describe and put-down anybody that who looked punkish or just vaguely different. “Hey, Devo!…” etc. The first punks took a lot of shit from the jocks for Devo whether they liked them or not. 2 years later it was these same jocks that were buying “whip it” and clapping their hands w/their girlfriends on their shoulders at a Devo show.

Sure, most discerning music fans (read:snobs) acknowledged that by 82/83 Devo (along w/The Clash & Talking Heads, amongst others) “had jumped the shark”, but, at the same time, I don’t think the nascent college rock or “earnest” scene ever forgot Devo once ruled the earth and spoke to them in terms of anything but pure subversion. No punk/indie fan I ever met as a kid gave me shit for writing “duty now for the future” on my skateboard…

One more thing- Ryko released those cd’s for a calculated reason, it was no coincidence. Kurt Cobain (Christ-figure of the earnest crowd) covered Devo and was vocal in his admiration for them (Remember he was also into a lot of eccentric, offbeat stuff like the Raincoats, Vaselines, Flipper…) Devo’s cache had grown in the indie world as many early younger fans such as ourselves were realising that Devo’s ideas on popular culture were being proved right (just as we’d always known) and many other artists came forward to give respect. So Ryko were shrewd to drop those comps when they did…

There was also an excellent live collection released by Ryko at that time which had some wild early recordings (opening for Sun Ra in ’75!, heckling Stiv Bators in ’77)

To which I responded:

I remember walking down the street in a Germs ‘Circle O’ shirt in 83 and some jocko homo yelling ‘Hey Devo’ and throwing a Pepsi bottle at me.

To which Scott responded:

I guess in Australia it was a slightly different scene. Many new wave bands toured here in that 79-82 period that were more marginal back in the U.K. or the States were comparatively more successful, so the divisions weren’t as clearly drawn.. I mean Blondie, B-52′s & Devo had all had top 5 singles in Oz by around 1980. There was only 1 nationally broadcast music show called Countdown that nearly the whole country watched every Sunday night. This was the conduit that broke those bands here.

We took what we could get, I guess, and many struggling new wave bands from o/s that had been left to the dogs by the Majors found a receptive audience here. . It’s hard to believe now but the Fall played live on National TV here (2 drummers ‘n all) on their Hex Enduction tour of 82!

That said, we were also quick to jump on fads.. Australia was an ABBA stronghold and one of their first tours outside Europe was down here to appease the morons.

So, what have we learned? I for one have learned that it was obviously a hell of a lot better to live anywhere in Australia in 82 than friggin’ Missouri!

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6 Responses to DEVO Hardcore Volume Two

  1. maxson says:

    speaking from perspective of an old louisville punk…the 1st devo record was well received. it was so off the wall. with those zany outfits, it was like the residents for the masses. in national release, hell, whip it good. there was that novelty element, like the b-52s. then the same sophmore slump (i pray every night that i can die without having to hear “love shack” ever again, but it never works.) but still, new-wave was not yet a perjorative term. but then the frat boys sucked it all up and you realized the corporations were back in control. can you fault the cars for appealing to the lowest common denominator–yes you can. i mean, did no one mention to tom petty that junky thunders held the moral copyright to his & band’s name? guess not.

    as a sidebar i’ll note that your food did have a song titled devo…we sometimes named songs that way…probably the lamest song in the canon. “looking painted/hair is ocher/i guess that’s artistic”…i’ll leave it to someone else to post the painful mp3.

  2. Joe Stumble says:

    I think the decline in the B-52′s material also had something to do with the passing of Ricky Wilson. I mean Whammy and Mesopitamia were not 100 percent artistic successes but they were creative and adventurous. Love Shack on the other hand, is pretty painful and I agree that after the millionth supermarket listen, I have truly had enough…..

    I feel the same way about Whip It. I have just heard it too many times. However,in a subversive way, DEVO was happy to be reduced to a commodified jingle and almost was going for that with Whip It. The video would seem to support that too.

  3. Tom says:

    Swiff it. Swiff it good.

    Honestly, I don’t tire of Whip It or anything through “Oh No….” Shout is where things went horribly wrong, and even that had its moments. On tour, they don’t go beyond the first 5 albums.

    I agree on the B-52′s decline. Whammy wasn’t a bad album.

    The corporate problem came when new wave went away in late ’84 or so.

    Anyway, thanks (again) for the great post!

  4. Joe Stumble says:

    I think the corporate problem was around during New Wave. The Knack comes to mind as an early corporate hustle. It just got waaaay more insidious and evil later.

  5. maxson says:

    Well, in 1980, New Wave was acceptable–it had that French (er…Freedom) ring to it. But by 1981 it signified a poppier sound, often centered around the keyboard/synth (which we thought had been beaten to death; alas, like the Phoenix, the monster of ’70′s rock rose again!), and if you look at the major label releases of that era the radio-friendly element was firmly in place. The times they were a-changing, but by god we’re gonna control the direction. Hey, it’s the profit motive, no big deal. It’s all about MOR or LCD. In ’83, way over on the West Coast, X released (so think penned in ’82) “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” with that lovely interjection about radio playing that new music, british invasion…they weren’t talking pistols!

    Oh god, and I was hoping to avoid even seeing the name The Knack spelled out…they certainly had the knack…

    Case closed!

  6. fred says:

    The turning point for punk new wave was in ’82 when MTV became a free cable channel instead of pay channel. That turned the US new wave overnight. Which in turn turned the previous poser new wavers to shave their heads and turn baldy hardcore, which just further frustrated older punk fans like me, who had already stopped worrying about dressing punk at all (in southern california)…

    ABBA The Movie was all about the Australian tour. Parts of that movie are so funny, especially the photographers fantasy scenes of twosomes with the ladies.

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