18 Feb

“Fraulein” – Devo

Theme of the week: Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse. It’s everywhere.

Today was hard. I’d had high hopes for the They Might Be Giants track that nods to Raymond Scott, Rhythm Section Want Ad, but alas, it committed the cardinal sin. The Powerhouse B riff wedged in the middle like a brief instrumental break was the only entertaining part, and that just ain’t enough.

I’ll give Rush’s La Villa Strangiato a spin tomorrow and hope the signal to noise ratio is sufficient for my selfish needs.

Devo, Devo, Devo. This is early Devo, mid-’70s. Musically, the song is all quotations from other songs. It opens (and closes) with the signature riff from the jazz standard-ish Blues in the Night; the main musical phrase is, of course, Powerhouse B; and the mix is lightly seasoned here and there with the instrumental break from Led Zepplin’s Whole Lotta Love.

This sort of borrowing is not at all uncommon. Even before sampling technology came into the fore, for you youngersters out there. People used to learn other people’s songs and actually play the songs themselves, on their very own instruments. They were called musicians. If you look even remotely closely, you might see some humor in the collection of songs they chose to quote, though you might have to go out and give them a listen or two, first. This sort of musical punning is also not at all uncommon.

Now get off my lawn, you warbling kids, and go buy a guitar or something…

And that’s the song. Okay, there’s mock blues lyrics & vocal stylings, too. Somehow, it all works. Enough for my mercenary purposes, anyway.

Be happy or not, y’all.