Saturday, October 18, 2014

Devo - “The Men Who Make The Music (Plus Butch Devo & The Sundance Gig)” DVD

Seminal Devo weirdness

Re-releasing a seminal collection of early (1978-79) Devo video clips is a no-brainer. The “spud-boys” from Ohio were instrumental in the synthesis of punk, new wave, and avante-electronic sounds in this era, and the aftereffects are still being felt within the industrial and electro-rock genres, among many others. Those who label Devo a forgotten “eighties” band (solely because of their mega-hit “Whip It”) are sorely mistaken, and this video proves it.

The first half of this release, “The Men Who Make The Music”, stitches together early Devo promo videos (“Jocko Homo”, “Satisfaction”, and “Secret Agent Man”, most notably) with live clips and some interstitial nonsense that somehow ties it all together. It’s classic, lo-fi, and rough-shot overall, and the direct-from-VHS transfer doesn’t help. But that’s part of the charm here. Essential Devo, really.

The “filler” here is a complete show from the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, where Devo revisited some of their earliest songs, all the while dressed in 20s-style prison garb. There are some great songs here, particularly my favorite, “Beautiful World”, but with the semi-bootleg quality, this is one for the completists, namely.

Final words? Great stuff, and overall a must-see for fans of one of America’s smartest “pop” groups.

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