Itís time for new traditions, all right. Henry Rollinsí label, Infinite Zero, has done what I had always dreamed ever since first buying Freedom Of Choice even *before* I had a compact disc player: re-released the "harder to find" releases of DEVO on compact disc. After searching through numerous "bargain bins" at different tape resellers across the Chicago-land area, I was beginning to think that I was never going to hear "Through Being Cool" with any degree of clarity. Not so! Beginning spud fans or hardcore "Devo-tees" will be overjoyed at the clarity of these new releases. But, letís talk specifics about the bonus tracks. Duty Now For The Future features a sped up version of "Soo Bawlz", the original available on Rykoís Hardcore DEVO Vol. 1 as well as a version of "Penetration In The Centrefold", which seems to be the exact same as the version found on DEVOís Greatest Misses. More tasty are the extra tracks to be found on the re-release of Oh No! Itís DEVO! Two completely new songs, "Part Of You" and "Find Out" continue along the theme created by ONID, but for some reason seem to come of slicker, leaner, meaner. The two new songs are well worth purchase of the re-release (and because Infinite Zero is a good ole AMERICAN label, itís nicely affordable at DOMESTIC prices), but you also get two remixes of "Peek-a-boo!" which probably (I havenít done a compare yet) came from the single, and two remixes of "Here To Go" from Shout. Speaking of which, Shout, like the re-release of DNFTF, has only two bonus nuggets snuggled onto the end of the album, one of which is, like "Find Out" and "Part Of You", an amazing new track: "Growing Pains", the second being a muzak version of "Shout", taken from the Ryko re-release of DEVOís E-Z Listening Disc (a complete muzak version of their early hits brilliant in its own right). As of the time of this article, I havenít quite gotten the cash together to pick up the latest re-release, New Traditionalists, the one that I personally have been waiting for. I noticed that there is a new track tacked on to the end, but I have no clue what it sounds like. Either way, just to finally put my much-scratched vinyl version to rest will be well worth the scrimping and scraping to come up with the moolah.
Now we come to something new thatís right, new DEVO! Pending the release of their new CD-ROM game, Adventures Of The Smart Patrol, DEVO decides to ride that musical high-horse once more and release the first obviously new music since 1990ís SmoothNoodleMaps. While purchasers of the new disc maybe somewhat disappointed to discover that half of the CD is mostly a rehash of a "Greatest Hits" idea (including such tried and true favorites as "Whip It" and "Beautiful World"), you canít deny that the shock from hearing the new tracks for the first time more than makes up for any delusions of cash wasted. The "Theme" from the Smart Patrol strikes the listener as being yet another instrumental by the spud boys with a familiar mood of "New Traditionalists"-style Bob-1 wannabe-country style guitar. Okay, but nothing to write home about. Then the track moves forward, like evolution. "Thatís What He Said" fills the room, and if this is any indication of DEVOís forward-thinking no-holds-barred musical ability, then we can anxiously await the next offering. Dub beats, acidic lyrics, and layered melodies exemplify why we got into this "geek band" from Akron in the first place, and why we can safely say: "Damn! A quarter of a century later, and theyíre STILL cranking it out." But the fun doesnít start there, oh no! "U Got Me Bugged", an obvious voice-over of the track available on Hardcore DEVO Vol. 2, is interesting in its own right for the simple reason that now weíre all able to sing along with the actual lyrics. Two tracks from Scott Orsi (whom I have the sneaking suspicion is the same Rev. Scott Orsi I met at the Chicago Underground Film Festival and had the BIGGEST archive of bootlegged DEVO material I had ever seen in my life) round off the newer selections on the disc with the delightfully perky "34C" (Gee, I canít WAIT to see what part of the game this ties into.) and a sample-ridden "The Spirit Of JFK" which calls to mind "Guns: Now" by Negativland. Unfortunately, Iíve seen this disc in the "used" bins at CD resale stores of late, which means that either the mixture of new, old, and reworked simply doesnít appease the general public, or that people were still thinking that they can get those little red hats. Oh well, all the more potatoes for the rest of us. Bombís away!
The "bad boys" of copyright and why most major labels have veritable armies of lawyers now-a-days have just released the next installment in the "Over The Edge" series. This time, the theme is sex and dirt, two things that icon David Wills ("The Weatherman") has a lot of things to say about. Of course, the packaging is perfect: Complete with sexual multiple choice test and a handi-wipe to get rid of the sperm and bacteria. But the packaging on the CD doesnít make the album; thereís still the music to talk about. Considering that this is the first release by the Bay-area media pranksters since 1994ís FREE to actually contain a majority of music, one canít help but compare the two albums together. Such comparisons, like comparisons between of Negativland and OTHER bands, fail miserably. You have to listen to Sex Dirt with a clean mind, otherwise youíre going to be disappointed. On first try, the album seems to be loose combination of poorly structured musical jams and a veritable butt-load of Weatherman vocal clips. If you get this thought in your mind, stop the CD player, go for a walk, whatever. Then come back to it again. Repeated listenings will bring out some of the subtleties in the release. Sure, "Lick The Crack" seems like just a childish attempt to skirt around "dirty words" much like your 8 year old cousin shouting "H! E! Double toothpicks!" until you realize that that was PROBABLY THE INTENTION. Yes, this oneís simply childish pre-pubescent fun from "A Special Opening" to "Mommy!" Personally, I find some tracks to be stronger than others (my current favorites being "Iím Going To Sing Now" and "Shake Your Pants #2"), but then again, Iím a big Weatherman freak. Hell, I *sleep* to A Big 10-8 Place. Still, those expecting a return to the biting edge of Escape From Noise or Helter Stupid are going to be disappointed. In that case, buy Sex Dirt anyway (they need your business), and wait for the new project that Don Joyce and Mark Hosler are working on, this time involving Pepsi Cola. (Side note on that one: In lieu of the big mess with U2, you and I both know to be ready to snatch up our copies of the Pepsi album as soon as it comes out lest IT gets pulled for copyright violation as well. Seems like they didnít get enough heat from Island records. Well, weíll see what happens.)
Anybody whoís seen any of my postings on usenet or received e-mail from me in the past year has probably noticed the tendency for me to pop a choice phrase or two from this album into my .sig file. Why should I promote the ramblings of just another namby-pamby satanist, dressed-in-black, wannabe-Hitler? BECAUSE BOYD RICE IS A PROPHET. He may belong to one of the other "teams", but even Rev. Ivan Stang had to admit that the boyís got the right idea about HATE. And, gee! Guess what? Hate is the theme of this album! (Yeah, I can hear all of you who are already familiar with Boyd saying, "Surprise! Surprise! Whoídíve thunk it?") Anyhow, unlike earlier Boyd releases or any of the NON releases, the hatred is refined, condensed, focused, and then repackaged into a sweet-n-tidy no-punches-pulled excursion into "that place between the heart and the mind where hate dwells." Joined by fellow haters, Boydís spoken words sink into your mind and strike the chords that need to be struck. "Hatesville", "Race Riot", and "Mr. Intolerance" will leave you with that thoughtful look on your face for hours, while "Dog", "Hatesville Suicide Hotline", and the misanthropic "How God Makes Little Girls" will have your sides splitting with laughter while those around you stare at you in abject horror. About the only track that I find myself continuously skipping through is the laborious "Letís Hear It For Violence Towards Women". Lame idea, lame track. And, after one listening, you not only get the idea, but itís been overdone already. Those samples of sirens and such certainly donít lend to a nice level of continuity for the album either: the rest of the release is completely enjoyable by itself in the background. Lounge music lovers will certainly find this one to be a true gem. Highly recommended.