Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rise Up, Mutants

What do Iggy Pop, Artie - the strongest man in the world, and mutants have in common? Well someone has spliced together a set of clips from The Adventures of Pete and Pete and set it to the music of Devo. I was way past the age for the target audience of Pete and Pete, but regardless it was a guilty pleasure for me. I could not get enough of the surreal suburban adventures of the brothers who shared a first name. The show had a bevy of cool guest actors and often used music by a variety of great indy rock artists. When Nickelodeon pulled the plug on the show I felt like a part of my inner child had departed.

But my main point for posting this embedded video is that this seems to be the only available video which uses the original 1978 "Stiff Records" recording of Be Stiff, Devo's third single in the UK. I am unapologetic about my enthusiasm for Devo, at least up through the first four or five LPs. Musically this song stands apart from their more off-the-wall social sarcrasms and synth-driven songs. Underneath the nerdy veneer they were one hell of a rock'n'roll band. And this song has the goods. From the opening telegraphing guitar riff you know you are in for a roller coaster ride. The lyrics use the same sophmoric syntax of many of Devo's songs, obsessed with all things sexual.

Be stiff my b-abies be stiff
Fruit ooze is wetly lewd
Stay dry in rubber boots
and cucumbers ripe and rude

I have always been fascinated that "babies" is plural, making me wonder exactly who they are singing to. The mid-song guitar solo is a miracle, so simple yet powerful. And like any great single, it says what it has to say and is over in less than three minutes.

Devo - Be Stiff (The Adventures of Pete & Pete) from IO1011 on Vimeo.


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

The mashup works great -- I didn't know about Pete 'n Pete, so if you hadn't told me I might have thought this footage was made for the video!

I'm a longtime Devo fan as well. My family moved from NY to Cuyahoga Falls (a major culture shock) in '72, & I spent the summer of '72 and all of my subsequent senior year learning about my high school's most famous alumni (Mark Mothersbaugh & Bob Lewis) ...

Mister Pleasant said...

Wow, same school! Is that Bob #1 or #2? Also explains some of your fondness for Chrissie Hynde, what with her Ohio roots and spectacular annunciation when singing "Cuyahoga Falls".

It is possible that the mashup was original to the show. They used to do those towards the end of each episode.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Good question re the Bobs but bob lewis was deinitely Bob # 1 and then i think ... well lemme check Wikipedia ... OK, so then there was Bob # 2, Mark Mothersbaugh's brother & Bob # 3(!) was Bob Casales, Gerald Casale's brother! So they could have called themselves The Bobs though i think another band has actually done that ... :-)

Ah Chrissie ... one of the things that drives me nuts with awe about her is that when i was still moping around trying to find "a job," Chrissie was setting off for England to become a rock star -- showing the same kind of chutzpah Dylan showed when he hitched to NYC with $6 in his pocket ... I wish I'd had more guts & more self-confidence when I was a kid -- not to be a rock "star," but to have had even a short run in any kind of good band would have meant a lot to me.