Devo’s “The Men Who Make the Music” is Hilarious and Unsettling

DEVO in Akron, Ohio, 1978.Janet Macoska

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Devo
The Men Who Make the Music plus Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig
MVD Visual

Devo

Best known, perhaps, for the giddy 1980 smash, “Whip It,” Devo was much more than the disposable New Wave novelty act that hit implied, as this enticing DVD proves. Mixing high concepts and low humor, the Ohio-bred band specialized in raucous punk-electronica drenched in pessimism and misanthropy, and delivered the goods with an irresistible, wild-eyed spirit, attracting support from the likes of David Bowie and Neil Young. The Men Who Make the Music draws primarily from Devo’s groundbreaking ’70s work, with raucous live footage and the still-amazing (if extremely low-budget) videos that preceded their major-label deal. Nearly four decades on, the clips for “Jocko Homo” and their savage deconstruction of the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” are both hilarious and unsettling, while testifying to the band’s keen visual sense and absurdist flair. Capturing a live show at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s still entertaining.

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