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DEVO
Live in the Land of the Rising Sun
MVD Music Video
Known by many only as the robotic-acting, "energy-dome"-wearing mouthpieces behind the hit "Whip It" some 25 years back, DEVO here make a convincing case for being one of the single most important bands of the post-punk movement.

Yes, DEVO. Most of the key members now do music and jingles for advertising, but at one point, the band was one of the most politically-charged acts out there, championing their idea of America's de-evolution via compulsive consumerism, the depletion of the environment, and mindless violence. They weren't all that far off from being a Talking Heads, frankly, but then "Whip It" hit, people assumed it was about masturbation, snickered, and began fitting the pigeon for the hole.

Live in the Land of the Rising Sun, then, is a fine reminder of the DEVO aesthetic. Featuring all of the band's biggest "hits" — "Girl U Want," "Mongoloid," "Uncontrollable Urge," "Whip It," a boffo take on the Stones' "Satisfaction" — plus interview footage both risqué and revolutionary, it's a testament to the band's conviction that they can still pull off such a large-scale show and make it sound as good — hell, better — than at any point in their long history. (For completists, there's even a 1980 live video that has only rarely seen the light of day since it was released.)

Yes, DEVO may have never made it that far as far as rock stardom goes (though their influence is immense), but as a band they've come a damn long way. Dare I say...evolved?

- Timothy C. Davis

Dead Boys
Live at CBGB 1977
MVD Music Video
"Dr. Davis! Dr. Davis! I am so worn out on all those shitty bands on the Whoreped Tour, and if I see Benji Madden in that goofy teardrop get-up for even one more second, I'm gonna smash my own face in!"

"Fear not, young one. Turn off your TV...no, wait a minute, turn your TV back on, and pop this here Rod-Swenson-directed 1977 Dead Boys CBGB show in yer DVD player."

"The Dead Boys?"

"The Dead Boys. The Dead Boys. Stiv Bators, Cheetah Chrome, Jimmy Zero, Johnny Blitz, and Jeff Magnum."

"Wasn't he in Neutral Milk Hotel?"

"That's Mangum. Anyways, it'll cure what ails you. 'Sonic Reducer?' 'All This and More?' 'Flame Thrower Love?' Why, it hardly gets any better than that. And all recorded in the band's YoungLoudSnotty prime!"

"What's the picture quality like?"

"Grainy at best...it's recorded from the middle of the floor. But it's a punk show. And a legendary one at that! Leather! Snarling! Disaffected youth!"

"Sounds great!"

"Would I steer you wrong? I took the oath, you know. Did I mention the bonus materials? There's interviews with Bators and the boys, a 1977 promo clip, new interviews with guitarist Cheetah Chrome, and a film of opening act The Steel Tips."

"I'm convinced. Thanks for the prescription!"

"Don't forget to take on an empty stomach for the full effect. Oi!"

-Timothy C. Davis

Old 97's
Old 97's Live
New West
The Old 97's have been doing the lil'-bit-country-lotta-bit-rock thing for some 10 years now, surviving various sabbaticals, fights with Ryan Adams (say, where's he been lately? Ryan? Anyone seen Ryan?), and lead belter Rhett Miller's flirtation with solo stardom. Through it all, they've always done one thing right: play hot-shit live shows that are equal parts muscular abandon and emotional companion.

While recording their new album, Drag It Up, Miller and the boys took a gig at Los Angeles' famed Troubadour. That set, documented here, contains a couple of originals (mostly forgettable, especially "Smokers," sung by bassist Murry Hammond in a voice flatter than the band's home state of Texas) along with a satchel of the band's biggest hits: "King of All The World," "Weightless," "Melt Show," and "Big Brown Eyes" being but a few. The band sounds in fine form — which is to say, as loose as they ever were. Miller's female fans will be glad to know the lank-haired singer gets plenty of face time, even as his current look suggests Evan Dando-gone-country. In addition, there's a bonus documentary included which goes into some of the reasons for the band's long leave of absence, shows them at a photo shoot (more Miller!) and shows the boys at work on Drag It Up. For fans only — Miller's voice is great to some, grating to others — but a nicely put together and recorded (Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound) effort.

-Timothy C. Davis

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