"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Uncut FEBRUARY 2015 - by Peter Watts
DEVO: MIRACLE WITNESS HOUR
Early live show from Cleveland weirdoes in their pre-Eno days.
Finally rescued from the vaults, this much bootlegged live recording captures Devo in performance with their classic lineup - but before Brian Eno had got his glittery hands on them. It was made in May 1977 at the Eagle Street Saloon in Cleveland, a venue Gerald Casale winningly describes in the sleevenotes as "dank, dingy, moldy and sad", and shows the band as they stepped away from their more provocative art school-origins, now dressing in jumpsuits as they developed a more straightforward approach. Although such things are relative in Devo-world. So while Be Stiff, Uncontrollable Urge, Mongoloid and the frantic, urgent Praying Hands are clearly identifiable as Devo's singular take on rock, albeit slower than the versions that they would later record, the set still contains examples of the band's more experimental side. The jittery, semi-improvised jazz-like Polyvinyl Chloride captures one challenging element of this, but so does the brilliant, gibberish Ramones-y Huboon Stomp, which went unrecorded for twenty years before surfacing on a South Park album. Smart Patrol / Mr DNA brings it all together, mixing a driving rock beat with squalls of feedback and vocal yelps as an oddball but compelling set reaches a thrilling climax.