By: Eric G.
The importance of Devo cannot be overstated in modern music. Countless bands have dug deep into the Devo songbook and taken the band's innovative cues to create splinters of the de-evolutionary process. This CD combines two promotional live albums and one commercially available EP that has long been out of print. Rhino Records has issued Dev-o Live as a limited to 5,000, internet-only release, which is a shame because every Devo fan should own this, as it captures the band in flawless live form.
In 1980 Devo still primarily used guitars, and the sound on Dev-o Live showcases Devo's punk roots as well as its foray into the land of cold electronics. The setlist at this show is pretty amazing. Recorded in support of the Freedom Of Choice record in August of 1980, Devo played a smattering of current (at the time) hits like "Whip It" and "Girl U Want", but also pulled out live staples like "Be Stiff", "Blockhead", "Uncontrollable Urge" and "Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy."
Rhino handmade has taken careful measures to be true to the packaging and tracking of the original releases, which means it comes in the same annoying plastic sleeve as the EP. Oh well, the disc contains the Devolutionary Oath printed around the perimeter, so that should make up for the inconvenience. The only other drawback is the tracking, which repeats the six tracks from the EP again, in the main set. Rhino, perhaps, got carried away with trying to please Devo completists.
When Devo first started making waves in the mid-seventies in Akron, Ohio, the world was hardly prepared for a concept as bizarre as de-evolution. Devo's early live shows were practically performance art, as the band dressed in elaborate and often offensive costumes to perform such songs as "I Need A Chick", "Bamboo Bimbo", "Goo Goo Itch" and "Midget." It's a miracle a band this strange got signed to Warner Bros., but Devo capitalized on its novelty and, consequently, created some of the most revolutionary and catchy electronic-based punk the world has ever known.
Dev-o Live is essential listening because it documents Devo at its commercial peak. In an act of sheer genius, the band managed to live out its own theory of de-evolution, getting worse with every record, but in a live setting Devo couldn't be stopped (until the band abandoned guitars for synthesizers a few albums later). Spuds, don't let this album slip you by- there are only 5,000.