DEVO’s Hardcore documents the group’s beginning as pre-punk outcasts in the fertile Akron, Ohio, underground rock scene. Spawned at the nearby college of Kent State, site of the infamous May 4 Massacre, DEVO formed as a conceptual art project armed with the radical philosophy of de-evolution. Brothers Mothersbaugh (Mark, Bob and Jim) and Brothers Casale (Jerry and Bob) along with drummer Alan Myers soon whipped up an otherworldly brand of “devolved blues” that could hold its own alongside the beatnik groove of 15-60-75 (a.k.a. The Numbers Band) or the primal rock poetry of The Bizarros.
Recorded on various four-track machines and in tiny studios, basements and garages between 1974 and 1977, Hardcore reveals their strikingly clear vision: rock ’n’ roll stripped bare of its collective cool and jerked back into propaganda fit for post-modern man. It’s no surprise that these transmissions would soon catch the eye and ear of Brian Eno, who later produced their landmark 1978 debut album. Noisy synth, strangled guitar chops and a primitive rhythmic thud power the early DEVO sound. Threaded beneath it all are lyrical themes of post-McCarthy paranoia, middle-class ephemera and DEVO’s long-running topic of choice: sex, or lack thereof.
Few moments in pop music history can match the grinding, pent-up energy of “Mongoloid” and the spastic bounce and sputter of “Jocko Homo” (two anthems presented in their earlier and superior versions here). Cult favorites like “Mechanical Man” and “Auto-Modown” make Hardcore essential listening. Digging further into the band’s cranial bunker, one finds the caveman hit “Be Stiff,” the space age surf-blues of “Clockout” and even a demented take on bubblegum pop, “Goo Goo Itch.” This 2xCD set includes four previously unreleased tracks: “Man from the Past,” “Doghouse Doghouse,” “Hubert House” and “Shimmy Shake.”
From Henry Rollins’s liner notes to the CD version: “Hardcore is not some barrel-bottom scrape in a desperate attempt to pilfer your billfold! This is pure DEVO—the sweetest crude, straight from the source!”
Superior Viaduct and Booji Boy Records are proud to present DEVO’s Hardcore to a new generation of spuds, lovingly packaged with Moshe Brakha’s stunning cover photography. As David Bowie said in 1977, DEVO is indeed “the band of the future.”