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July 27, 1979 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-27

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, July 27, 1979-Page 9
A touch of elitism breeds ruin

simply a great album, a scary hand
from the future reaching through a
time vortex to pull the listener into the
hallucinatory fog of things to come. The
difference between that and what hap-
pens on Duty Now For The Future is
that whereas on the first album the
hand belongs to some monster-mutant
too repulsive to be comfortable with,
yet so riveting, so familiar (because,
deep down, the mutant is us, gorged on
technology and chemicals) that it is
almost always compelling, the feel of
Duty Now For The Future is more like
some latex.Halloween monster glove a
snotty-nosed kid put on to spook you
when you're asleep.
In the great tradition of Sam the
Sham and The Pharaohs, DEVO's
members need to get down on all fours
and clean all the pooty-poot-poot
from their plates instead of just playing
with their food. On their first album
they gorged themselves on excessive
amounts of cultural flotsam and jet-
sam, and then vomited it back: They
gave us tales of falling spack junk, odes
to masturbation and hopelessly con-
fused intercourse, and explanations of
the true mongoloid essence of the
average suburban breadwinner.The
songs on Duty, however, are either (a)
uninterestingly obscure or (b) exhibit
an unfortunate evolution undergone by
the group, one which now puts them
above the level of those poor schmucks
(us, dummy!) they sang about and
were part of on their first album.
MORE THAN anywhere else, the dif-
ference is found in the lethargic nature
of the -ongs. On Are We Not Men?
"S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)"
would have been a greatsong, with its
paranoid-bordering-on-hysterical ly-
rics about some poor guys' wormy grey
matter. But it needs to howl, and on Duty
it is given the most godawful risky-
ticky arrangement. "Red Eye,"
without even good lyrics, sounds as if it
were trying to achieve a Moroder-like
production quality (no joke - the group
says it is moving in the direction of sci-
fi disco).
In fact, the whole album sounds like a
room full of blipping video games.
Perhaps the saddest thing about the
album is pointed out in this swell tidbit
a member of the group told a Free
Press writer: "The use o) the guitar
automatically is a reference to music
that clouds the issue. It is obsolete. It's
time for a radical change ... (our
music) will be more electronic and
scientific. We're going to put the brains
into it." Thanks guys, but I liked you a
lot better when you said "we're
pinheads all," and liked playing guitar.
"DEVO Corporate Anthem" and
"Triumph of the Will" are just so much
wasted vinyl - real artsy-fartsy fan-
fares that fall over. Except for when the
singer squeals "I'm so stroft," "Pink
Pussycat" lacks all of that no-nonsense
wickedness that made perv-o workouts
such as "Sloppy (I saw My Baby Get-
tin')" and "Praying Hands" Grade-A

the group's first album, thus giving us
little hope for DEVO's future. "Wiggly
World" and "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA,"
although affected by DEVO's new cor-
porate anti-guitar policy, sound fine.
But they don't salvage the album. What
was a great grab-bag of strange
theories of man's evolution from
brain-eating anes and of his ultimate
return to protoplasmic slime has
become a rigid and lifeless master
Now, Domingo Samudio had the right
idea. I mean. he saw all the dreck-
infested glory of this great land, and he
knew just how much he got off on it.
Possessing too much integrity to do
things any other way, and having too
much smarts to believe that an earnest
career pursuing the rock and roll
dream was a wise way to spend a life,
he did the only noble thing - he made
his whole career One Big Yuk. DEVO
started out walking in Sam's footsteps,
which was great - but also soun-
ded as if it was clinging to a faith in
energy and loud noise to transform
things, which was even greater. I dunno
about them now. Maybe they got scared
seeing how much there really is to
laugh at, or maybe they just weren't
as smart as they seemed. When Sam
latched onto his vision of infectious
cultural madness, he cheerfully came
out with stuff like "Lil' Red Riding
Hood" and "The Hair On My Chinny
Chin Chin" (just check out the titles to
discern some of the underlying dum-
hness). So how come DEVO has to fall
back on grand schemes and scientific
methods when what is needed is simple
openness to whatever happens, and
exuberance instead of thoughtfulness?
I mean, is that any way for a bunch of
spudboys to act?
Taken from the files of Odilon Redon,
M.D., 5/20/79. Re: Abridged transcrip-
ts of conversations with Domingo
Samudio several months after he
reported to me on his various
SAMUDIO: Oh God, Doc, they was
gone for so long, you know, those
dreams, and then I nodded off last night
while I was watching Love Boat. I
remember I was eating apple sauce and
drinking beer, when I must have fallen
asleep. But you know what? This is
strange, but somehow, I think this is my
last nightmare, and when I just think
about it, well it wasn't very scary. I
mean, I sort of wouldn't mind having it
again . .. There I was, doing the Sham
on the beach in this place I didn't
recognize, when this barrage of go-
rillas right out of Planet of the Apes
came up and said they loved me, that
they wanted to pt me on ape-television
and they wanted me to make records
for them, then said I could be on Satur-
day Night Live... It was weird: They
said most humans were "de-evolved,"
only fit to do slave jobs or else be hunt-

ed down for game. But they told me I
was their hero, because I had "escaped
the forces of evolution" or something,
and "saw things like them." We sat
down to dinner that night, and - I can't
believe it now, but didn't bother me
then - we had this meal of brains!
Really, they was pretty good
c(Samudio snickers loudly here, but
looks visibly shaken up by the
dream I) . . . and the last thing I
remember, before I woke op to TV
College, was these apes all gathered
around me, shakin' my hand and telling
me how much they liked my songs.

Behind this little group, though, other
apes walked by. Remember those guys
in my other nightmare, who talked
about "dancin. the poot" and who wore
those yellow suits and sunglasses?
Well they were all hanging by their
ankles from this long pole the apes was
carryin', headed for a bonfire - they
was hunted down . . . Samudio really
nervous here; his whole body is
shaking)) I dunno, I remember waking
up and thinking, "I guess they just
didn't make the evolutionary
grade .. .



THE FEW SONGS that do escape
their bland fate date back to the time of
Joshua Peck Reopens August 1-5
ARTS STAFF: iSndra Bobroff. Sarah Cassill, Mark
Coleman. Sara Goldberg. Eric Graig, Jock Hender- POWER CENTER
son. Katie Herzfeid Anna Nisean.' r-onA.

1:00-3:30-7:00-9:35 1:00-3:30-7:00-9:35
"'ALEN' Ior. oekr, nloper, ar.us'r ARE YOU READY FOR
a anf" nVA GOOD TIME?

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