June 19, 2010
I had another topic ready for this week’s Hidden Gems, but then Devo went and released their first studio album in 20 years on Tuesday. I haven’t been able to concentrate on much that’s not Devo-related since. So here’s four less-than-obvious Devo songs you should check out.
“The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize” (from Duty Now For The Future)
Devo’s second album Duty Now For The Future is often characterized as suffering from the sophomore slump. This is understandable, since the album’s strongest songs are backloaded onto what would have been side two and lazy rock writers probably didn’t have the patience to flip the album in search of the kind of giddy thrills the band’s debut offered upfront. “The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize” is one of the album’s shoulda-been hits. It features an oblique tale about a young man’s joy at his sweetheart recovering from some sort of debilitating accident. It also has an unbelievably catchy chorus that is simply the exclamation “Wa-hoooo!”
“It Takes A Worried Man” (available on the Pioneers Who Got Scalped anthology)
In 1982, Neil Young had the crazy-ass notion to co-direct an apocalyptic comedy film with the actor Dean Stockwell, called Human Highway. He cast Devo as nuclear garbagemen. In the film, they sing an upbeat, poppy version of the folk-festival classic “Worried Man Blues” (here slightly retitled) while they cart around barrels of nuclear waste. (The band has also been known to perform the song when they pretended to be Dove – a Christian, leisure suit-wearing opening act for many ‘80s-era Devo shows. Here’s a video of Dove in action.) The movie made it to VHS, but then faded into obscurity. Inspired somewhat by Devo, Neil Young released the synthesizer-driven album Trans… and eventually got sued for it. Apparently, everyone doesn’t appreciate devolved music.
October 22, 2009
Baby Huey & The Babysitters | The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend
Chicago soul singer Baby Huey was a heavy hitter, emphasis on the heavy. Four hundred pounds of heroin addiction, Baby Huey died of a heart attack in 1970, before he could ever find real success beyond the regional sphere. (The Babysitters later tried in vain to replace Huey, enlisting their bassist’s wife, a singer named, um, Chaka Khan.) But The Babysitters’ song “Hard Times” has endured, having been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, Biz Markie, Black Moon, Chemical Brothers, Ghostface Killah, Ice Cube and People Under the Stairs, to name a few. The Curtis Mayfield-produced The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend is powerful funk, but if you can get your hands on a single like “Messin’ With The Kid,” you’re in for some fierce early sixties rock ’n’ soul.
by Erin Sheehy
Devo 2.0 | Devo 2.0
When I first heard about Devo 2.0, I knew the Armageddon must be coming soon. Devo 2.0 is the self-titled DVD/CD debut of a Disney-engineered group of five pre-teen kids miming to new recordings of Devo songs. (The lead girl really sings, and it looks like that drummer knows what he’s doing, but the original band does all the revamped backing tracks.) And while certain aspects of Devo 2.0 are more Lizzie McGuire-ish than any self-respecting Spudboy should tolerate (the bright colors, the band’s decidedly not-devolved fashion sense), the selected songs are undoubtedly some of the band’s best and these new versions are actually pretty fun. Sure, some lyrics have been made more palatable for a Disney Channel audience (now “Freedom of Choice” is both what you got and what you want), but what’s so wrong with feeling good?
by Justin Remer
Devo Signs 360 Deal With Warner Brothers, Will Tour, Release New Album In 2010 [Rolling Stone]
Smashing Pumpkins To Release Free 44-Song Album, One Track At A Time. [Idolator]
Dizzee Rascal Gets His Own Sneaker, The “Tongue N’ Cheek” [Pitchfork]
Last.fm to Become Radio Station [Pitchfork]
Pavement Is Reuniting, According To “Real and Official” Source [Pitchfork]
compiled by Erin Sheehy