Claw Hammer

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are NOT Devo!

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If you believe the opening cut, "The Spawning of a New Error," a slightly wasted conversation between the bandmembers, the inspiration for covering all of Devo's first album came from Pussy Galore's remake of the entirety of Exile on Main St. Believing the opening cut, however, is not recommended -- as the liner notes read, it's "an actual audio documentation of the spawning of this brilliant yet underrated project (note the spontaneity)." Wherever it came, the idea was sufficiently quixotic that Claw Hammer went ahead and did it, adopting suitable pseudonyms (producer Brett Gurewitz became Brett Eno) and with the OK and liner notes of Mark Mothersbaugh. The result isn't surprising per se -- it is indeed the brilliant, perverse classic itself, all 11 tracks, including the devolved cover of the Stones' "Satisfaction." But Claw Hammer bring a looser energy to the proceedings that sets their efforts apart from the restrained but fierce originals. Wahl is his usual vocal self, meaning he's far more of a gabbling wildman than any Devo singer ever was, while Bagarozzi equals the gruffness well -- check out the version of "Mongoloid" for a good example. The band, meanwhile, doesn't change much in the way of pace or arrangements, instead adding a rough garage feel via feedback fuzz and spindly soloing in place of keyboard elements (though one member is credited with playing "obnopiano," of course!). Inevitably, Devo fans will want to hear the original after hearing this, but We Are Not Devo! on its own is still a fun blast -- clearly not meant to be taken as a serious artistic statement, just a great celebration of a legendary group and album. [The CD version contains some unrelated cuts from the Double Pack Whack Attack single, along with "Slappy Sings Dead Zeppelin," which redefines the concept of goofing off while recording.]

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