The rock world was stunned yesterday by the announcement of the sudden passing of Bob Casale, guitarist/keyboardist/engineer for quintessential New Wave outfit Devo. “Bob 2,” as he was known to scores of fans (“Bob 1” being guitarist/vocalist Bob Mothersbaugh), was an integral part of one of the quirkiest pop bands of the last century, and his sudden death has left a hole in the hearts of fans everywhere. By sheer coincidence, Devo have been one of the first acts to announce a title for Record Store Day in April 2014, consisting of a pivotal 1977 show being released for the first time in full.
Devo had, of course, been challenging audiences with their maniacally catchy, satirical repertoire for much of the ’70s, from the Kent State University campus the band attended (the nascent band’s mindset turned from purely comedic to somewhat serious with the shooting deaths of several protesting students by National Guardsmen in 1970) to the greater Ohio area and beyond. Their appearance at New York club Max’s Kansas City in November 1977 may have been their most essential to date: the self-proclaimed “spudboys” were introduced that night by none other than David Bowie, who presented them as “the band of the future.” Band co-founder/bassist Gerald Casale would later note that record labels began calling after the performance; ultimately, the group would sign to Stiff Records (who’d put their first self-released singles together on an EP) and then Warner Bros. – their major-label home ever since.
Nine tracks from the Max’s performance made their way onto Rykodisc’s 1992 set DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years, but the impending release of DEVO Live At Max’s Kansas City 11/15/77 on Jackpot Records will feature the entire show. (Casale’s liner notes for The Mongoloid Years noted that the repertoire on that disc represented “the best of the only audio tapes that escaped total disintegration over the last 15 years.” Jackpot’s note about “working closely with the band and those who were there that night” means that the LP is likely sourced from multiple recordings, including fan-sourced ones.) Casale will write new liner notes; the package will also include a band press bio from 1974. Limited to 2,000 copies, this disc will be available at Record Store Day-participating stores on April 19.