Devo — Hardcore
(Superior Viaduct SV026, 1977/2013, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-11-01Long before there were five nerds with red plastic flowerpots on their heads playing goofy songs on what sounded like Atari game machines or Commodore 64’s, there was a real band of innovators playing a raw and convincing rock laced with elements of punk, progressive, and a dollop of genuine weirdness. Much of that punky aggression carried through to their first Warner Brothers album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo, produced by Brian Eno, but began to fade shortly thereafter as the band relied more and more on electronics and drum sequencers. Shortly after the turn of the decade and their big hit “Whip it,” the excitement was all but gone, as the band descended further and further into banal kitschiness. But this review is about the early days of the band, going forward on their own years before being signed to a major label. Hardcore reissues the two earlier Hardcore Devo Vol.1 and Vol.2 releases that Ryko put out in 1990 and 1991 respectively, now out of print for decades, and adds a half dozen or so bonus tracks to the end of the second disc. This is the real deal, the origins of the band and their whole concept about de-evolution; If one has never heard anything but “Whip It” and “Peek-a-Boo,” this will be a real ear-opener. Several of the best cuts on the band’s first Warners album are here on disc one, in their early, more cutting-edge versions originally recorded by the band between 1974 and 1977. The second disc covers the same time period, but these are the also-rans that didn’t quite make it to Volume 1, but are still quite worthy and display the same proto-punk edginess. The bonus tracks on disc 2 feature some surprises (an early version of “Clockout” from the band’s second Warners album is here), but for the most part, these are the rough demos and poorest recordings on the set. Still, it’s good to hear these unexpurgated cuts along with the others.
Related artist(s): Devo
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
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
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