Spin Control

March 12, 2006


Devo 2.0, "Devo 2.0" (Disney Sound) ***

As electronic-music pioneers and heady social theorists critiquing the explosion of corporate culture and the ensuing "de-evolution" of mankind, Ohio's post-punk heroes Devo were one of the most subversive bands in the history of rock. So is this group-sanctioned new project the ultimate corporate sell-out, stooping even lower than its recent Swiffer commercial, or is it the most thoroughly twisted prank and brilliant bout of brainwashing it's ever attempted?

How about a little of both?

Disney cast the five 10- to 13-year-old members of Devo 2.0 as it might have a sub-"American Idol" kiddie band, selecting lead vocalist Nicole Stoehr from among 1,000 applicants. Devo recorded new backing tracks for several of its classic hits and wrote two new originals, "Cyclops" and "The Winner," while the hired, flower-pot-wearing Booji boys and girls did the singing a la those annoying "Kidz Bop" collections, gently toning down the more overt double entendres of some of the lyrics. (You didn't think "Whip It" was really about the rodeo and "Peek A Boo" paid homage to the playground game, did you?)

The hired kiddie vocalists can be a bit cloying at times, and the new tracks lack the bite of the originals, with a mellower digital sheen. But great songs are great songs, and I for one prefer having my 9-year-old grooving to "Boy U Want" -- retitled from the original "Girl U Want" -- over anything by Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan.


Kid Rock & the Twisted Brown Trucker Band, "'Live' Trucker" (Atlantic) ***

With this old-school, stop-gap, between-new-albums, greatest-hits live set, the former Robert James Ritchie solidifies his standing as a New Millennial amalgam of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad and Bob Seger rocking hard to a hip-hop groove and pulling off the most unlikely feat of delivering a concert album that's more than a mere souvenir, and which deserves a place beside such '70s greats as "Frampton Comes Alive."

Kid Rock's band always has been a crack live outfit, and he is a consummate performer, delivering the expected hits ("Bawitdaba," "American Bad Ass," "Rock 'n' Roll Pain Train), dissing pretenders to the throne and replacing Sheryl Crow with an even better choice, downstate Illinois' redneck woman Gretchen Wilson, for the duet on "Picture." Recorded live before worshipful crowds in hometown Detroit, these versions sometimes better the originals, and if there's any complaint, it's only about what's missing ("I Am a Bulldog," "Yodeling in the Valley").

C'mon, Kid: You know this should have been a double album! Preferably on vinyl, and with a gatefold sleeve so we could clean our bud.

Jim DeRogatis