The third, and last of Rykodisc's collections of Devo rarities, Devo Live: The Mongoloid Years takes a different route than the Hardcore Devo discs, presenting early live performances. The disc contains excerpts from three shows, presented in reverse chronological order. Gerald V. Casale's ascerbic liner notes also contain rare photos of the early band in action, including one of Mark Mothersbaugh in a Sex Pistols T-Shirt. The sound quality isn't the best, as most were recorded on standard four-track tape, which then sat in Devo's archive, deteriorating. They were salvaged in the middle of the night at Mutato Musika during the curfews of the L.A. Riots with Q-Tips and tape cleaner.
The first performance is at Max's Kansas City in May 1977. This was, in fact, the same show in which David Bowie introduced Devo as "The band of the future." The nine tracks from this performance show a band at the top of their game. Their hooks have been refined, their chops polished, and they're rocking hard. In Praying Hands, Mark runs out an assaults members of the audience asking "What is your left hand doing?" One woman apparently gets up and leaves, as Mark and the band cry out "Spud!" at the poor abused woman. This is true punk.
The second performance is from The Crypt in Akron, Ohio from December 1976. The band had recently changed lineups, adding guitarist Bob Casale (Bob 2), and replacing Jim Mothersbaugh and his electronic drums with Alan Myers and his acoustic drum kit. The tracks are a bit more raw, though the unlisted performance of Timing X is killer. This night, Devo was opening for The Dead Boys, and the crowd instantly became polarized between Devo pros and cons. The thing collapses into a fistfight, perpetually associating Devo with the burgeoning punk scene.
The biggest draw for this disc is the final show - Devo's first official public performance. Devo had been hired by WHK Radio to open for Sun Ra as a gag in 1975. This was the original four member lineup of Devo. (As opposed to the Sextet Devo from the Kent State Creative Arts festival in 1973.) It was halloween 1975, and the audience was stoned on nitrous oxide and hash provided by the station. All of them waiting for the opening act, a "slick cover band who can deliver precise, immaculate renditions of Bad Company hits," writes Gerald V. Casale.
"Instead, they are subjected to DEVO," Casale continues in the liner notes, "Appearing as four theatrical characters (Booji Boy: Mark Mothersbaugh; Clown: Bob Mothersbaugh, Jungle Jim: Jim Mothersbaugh and Chinaman: Gerald V. Casale)..." Devo assaults the audience first with a version of Subhuman Woman (which was never released officially or unofficially anywhere else). The performance closes with a *very* long Jocko Homo, which was actually performed for a half-hour, but is edited for this disc. During the performance, an audience member comes up and tries to get the band off the stage, to which he is heckled by Devo with chants of "Is he not a man? He is De-vo! You are De-vo!" He eventually relents. Finally, during I Need A Chick, the power is pulled on Devo, putting an end to their performance. A fist fight almost occurs between Gerald V. Casale and someone working the show. By this point the show is deserted, except for Devo and a few friends who watch Sun Ra put on a hell of a performance.
Devo Live: The Mongoloid Years is, sadly, out of print. It's an excellent historical document of Devo, and an excellent live album as well. If you don't feel comfortable acquiring bootleg recordings of Devo, you need to track down a copy of this disc in some manner.
Some pressings of this album are tracked wrong, with Beulah, Jocko Homo and most of I Need A Chick on the same track, and the ending of I Need A Chick seperate. The tracklisting below is taken from the album's back cover.
Max's Kansas City NYC May 1977
- (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (listed as "Satisfaction (I Can't Get No)
- Too Much Paranoias
- Praying Hands
- Uncontrollable Urge
- Smart Patrol / Mr. DNA
- Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy)
- Come Back Jonee
The Crypt Akron Ohio December 1976
- Timing X (Unlisted) / Clockout
- Soo Bawls
- Space Junk
WHK Radio Concert
Cleveland Ohio Halloween 1975
- Subhuman Woman
- Bamboo Bimbo
- Jocko Homo / I Need A Chick