Wednesday, July 28, 2010

devo: "that's good", "gates of steel" (live)

Since I've posted a lot about my recent visit to Akron, Ohio, I thought it would only be right to dedicate my next music video and song posts as a double dose of my favorite band from Akron, Devo. Originally, like everyone, I heard "Whip It" as a kid. It got heavy rotation on MTV, when MTV was still good. Still, even as a kid I wasn't too crazy about the band, and probably, like a lot of people wrote them off as gimmicky. Truth is, while their outlandish outfits and theatrics drew attention to the band, it had, at least for me, overshadowed their genius lyrics. "Whip it", for instance was about the conjuring of inner-strength and self determination to get past and rise above any problem that remains an obstacle in life. Devo certainly know something about that, growing up in the Akron, Ohio area in the 60s and 70s and seeing too much human regression and, as band-leader Mark Mothersbaugh put it, "de-evolution" all around. Hence the band's name. One person who got it early on was former Black Flag singer and spoken-word king Henry Rollins, who, as a troubled youth, found strength in Devo's songs. The band went on to gain a strong cult following to this day, and with eighties-style music in full swing again, find themselves once again very much in vogue, with a new album and tour for 2010. Devo could care less about trends though, and have always paved their own paths, while their dedicated fan base have always been supportive. I really didn't fully grasp the power of this seemingly (and many times intentionally) silly band until I heard their live LP, "Now It can Be Told, LIVE at the Hammersmith Palace" played in its entirety one late night, on the radio in 1988. Later that week I bought the cassette and have since worn it out. Above is the video for one of my favorite Devo songs, "That's Good". The video was considered too risque at the time for MTV, though, if anything it's quite silly and a good example of Devo's healthy sense of humor and absurdity. It aged well too! Below is a brief example from their "Now It Can Be Told" live LP - a fist pumping version of "Gates of Steel". Enjoy!

If you want more of this Devo stuff, check out this new little interview with Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh. If you haven't been following the band in a while, you might be surprised at what Mark's been up to these days.