Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Following up on my non sequitur - Bob Mothersbaugh, guitar hero


While we often think of Devo as a synth band, their guitar element was always strong, even after the Energy Dome period. And for Devo's guitar presence, we need to thank Bob Mothersbaugh. Here's what Drowned in Sound said:

Lot's of folks (present company excluded) underestimate D E V O and dismiss them as a "novelty band"....So naturally most folks (P.C.E) tend not to even know who Bob 1 is.

He is Bob Mothersbaugh, lead guitar of DEVO and just one facet of this incredible band. Granted, DEVO slipped into a pretty shameless disco phase in the eighties and then kind of petered out (new music wise) but their rock oeuvre is pretty flawless.

I differ on the last part - Total Devo is one of my favorite Devo albums - but I have to agree about Mothersbaugh's work. If you disagree, check out the middle part of this video.

Incidentally, "Beautiful World" is one of the best videos ever made. If you've never seen it, please watch it. All the way to the end.

Incidentally, while I was reading about the song on Songfacts, I discovered something interesting:

Mark Mothersbaugh: "Jerry and I both tried to sing like Stan from Wall Of Voodoo ("Mexican Radio") when we were doing the song. I don't know why, but we could imagine Stan singing that song, so we were both trying to fake his accent and Jerry did a great job so he ended up singing on the record."

Funny, but even though I'm a Stan Ridgway fan, I never noticed that.

On to the video:

[Jerry] Casale: "That's a song that was written with the video in mind. The video idea preceded the song. We start off with silly imagery taken from archival film libraries of just stupid stuff - Americana pop culture stuff from the past and silly imagery of silly people, then slowly start warping it over darker and darker things - Ku Klux Klan race riots, war, suffering, atomic bomb, starvation. It transforms from one thing to another."

And the attitude of the song is similar to that of Talking Heads' "Big Country," which I just referenced in another context.

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