Songs about places tonight on Runout Numbers! We're both from special places: Detroit, out west, Arizona, the prairies of the Midwest, and good ole Music City, USA. As people who have traversed the country a few times and moved homes a few times more, place is important to us.
One of my favorite things about continuing to buy physical media is the idea of the “Blind Buy.” You’re flipping through stacks of vinyl or browsing along rows of CDs and something just catches your eye. Sure, you COULD walk the record over to the store’s listening station to check it out, but there’s something really exciting about adding it to your pile and being surprised when you get home, especially when you’re only out a dollar or two. There are a few things that can ensure an album gets brought home with me even if I’ve never heard it before: general weirdness, an awesome cover, or killer liner notes. This week’s Deep Cut features all three.
After a slew of critical and commercial failures, Devo was on the rocks in the early 1990s. The group’s last two albums, 1988’s Total Devo and 1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps were both met with poor reviews. Smooth Noodle Maps would be the start of an unofficial twenty year hiatus until 2010’s Something For Everybody. In between, the band members had developed their own projects. Mark Mothersbaugh found a lucrative niche composing film scores, Gerald Casale shot music videos for bands like Silverchair, Rush, and Foo Fighters as early as 1985, and Bob Casale produced Police guitarist Andy Summers’ first solo record XYZ in 1987. Other than a few sporadic club shows and brief reappearances at Lollapalooza, the band was pushed to the backburner by both its members and the general public.
And then, sometime in the mid-2000s, The Walt Disney Company approached them about forming a relaunch of the group with child actors performing the band’s back catalog of erratic, often sexual, Post-Punk oddball songs and calling it Devo 2.0.
Shortly after 1978’s breakthrough Parallel Lines and 1980’s Autoamerican, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein took a short break from Blondie to release Debbie’s debut solo record, Koo Koo, with help from Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards from Chic, Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale from Devo, and H.R. Giger fresh off Alien.