Friday, November 27, 2009

New Wave for the New Week #43

[All throughout the month of November, all NW4NW entries are based on requests made by you, dear readers. Because of the amount of requests received, there will often be more than one entry per week during this month - I recommend signing up for email alerts on the left-hand side of the screen so that you don't miss any of the fun!]

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NW4NW All Request Month heads into the last weekend of the month with a final flurry of three requests, the first of which comes from Luke Bunting.

There are certain bands that seem to come to everybody's mind when you mention New Wave, bands who even the most casual mainstream listener associates with the term. Some people immediately think of The B-52's while others immediately start mimicking Gary Numan's "Cars." But everyone's short list of New Wave bands includes the world's favorite Spudboys from Akron Ohio!

Clad in matching yellow radiation suits, matching red flowerpot hats, or matching Ken-doll plastic hairpieces, Devo has epitomized New Wave for most people since they first achieved national notoriety cranking out their spastic rendition of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" on Saturday Night Live in 1978. Within two years they would be bringing De-Evolution to the masses via their worldwide hit, "Whip It."

Sadly, most people only remember Devo for those two songs (plus "Jocko Homo," which most folks don't know by title - they just remember the chorus of "Are we not men?/We are Devo/Are we not men?/D-E-V-O"), and in mainstream history they have been relegated to novelty-band status. Even though they never again hit the charts, Devo recorded several excellent albums, as well as a few toward the end of the 1980's that might have been better left unreleased. After taking a hiatus following the Smooth Noodle Maps LP in 1990, Devo reunited a few years back to tour. They have even begun recording again, with their first album of new material in two decades, Fresh, set for a 2010 release.

Devo's influence on contemporaries and on those who came after can hardly be overstated: they helped to pioneer the music video, especially the long video format, via their 1974 production In the Beginning Was the End: The Truth About De-Evolution; they staked out early synthesizer territory from the start and continued to use electronic instruments in new ways throughout their career; they have been the direct impetus for two sequel bands: Dev2.0, an all-kid band; and DEVA, a female-fronted take on the Spudboys' music. Not a bad run for a band of art-school geeks who have been going since 1973, always looking and sounding quite unlike anyone else.

In his request, Luke wrote, "Devo will always be the new wave kings for me." You're not alone in that, Luke - we're ALL Devo! Here they are as the current entry in NW4NW All Request Month performing "Secret Agent Man" from The Truth About De-Evolution (try to ignore the goofy kid intro-ing the clip):

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