Devo Live

When Devo arrived on the post-punk scene from Akron, OH in the late '70s, initial audiences might have seen them as some kind of novelty act. Other's, like Brian Eno, saw something inspired in this art-rock group of conceptualists. The band were not only satirists of the rock'n'roll industry and society at large, but they also knew how to rock, albeit in their unique way. They didn't satirise rock to bury it, they satirised to reveal it. Identified by their uber-geek persona, costumes, jerky rhythms, slashing guitars and pop hooks, the band created intensity through tension as opposed to machismo. This live DVD finds the band reunited in 1996, playing in the middle of the afternoon to a sun-drenched Lollapalooza audience waiting for Metallica to go on later that night; certainly not the optimal situation. The band, however, focuses only on their earliest and best known material to make a strong impression. Wearing outfits from their first two albums (the yellow plastic coveralls of Are We Not Men?, later torn off to expose black shorts with the elbow and knee pads from their second album, Duty Now For The Future), the band capture 12 of their best tracks from their first three albums released in '78, '79 and '80. Although it's 16 years after the fact, the performance is strong, highlighted by "Unctrollable Urge," "Girl U Want" and "Jocko Homo." It is strange to see a band completely ignore ten years of material from the '80s, but other than some great tracks from 1981's New Traditionalists, we're not missing out on any classic Devo. This is Devo the way people will remember them, covered by a band playing themselves as Devo circa 1980. Having seen Devo in 1981, this is a pretty good re-enactment. If you're looking for the band's great video output, check out the compilation DVD The Complete Truth About De-Evolution, originally released on laser disc in 1993 and then released on DVD at the end of 2003. The collection provides the band's full video history, including not only the classics but a few tracks you probably don't know, along with some great band revelations. (Rhino/Warner)