January 28, 1986. The Space Shuttle Challenger and all on board explode across the consciousness of the world, America in particular. Before the year’s out, Keith Leblanc (drummer, mad scientist, co-inventor of the various grooves that pretty much set hip hop free), will release an album called Major Malfunction, the title of track of which is driven by all manner of relevant audio samples from the day. No sad piano, no violins. Just evidence. Welcome to the future, it seems to be saying. Like a disaster movie with human error the cause.
“Was I cool enough to be hip to Pop Will Eat Itself in 1987? I think so. Or maybe it took until 1988. Those were weird days, and seriously, I wasn’t the cool one, it was the people I was hanging with. By 1987-88, I was deep in a negative hole of my own making (though the Reagan Administration had helped), which was manifesting musically as NOISE, and also looking backward, digging through old records, because I couldn’t afford cool new ones. Which by 1987-88 meant Hip-Hop if you were even half paying attention. And I was, I guess, I just wasn’t buying much, because I was so broke. Which reflects now in how woefully misrepresented that form is on this list. Because it’s all there (Guideline #1). Except I did buy Box Frenzy. Or maybe somebody just gave it to me, no doubt because they’d decided Pop Will Eat Itself weren’t properly cool anyway, being white guys, and long-haired geeks at that (Grebo was the name of the scene). But I’d pretty much given up on cool by the end of high school anyway. Lucky me.” (Philip Random)
“The special beauty underlying all the ugliness of the Butthole Surfers comes from the fact that they were the manifestation of everything any good, god fearing parent ever feared about rock and roll. They were impossibly loud, and ugly, and committed unspeakable crimes onstage and off. In other words, they were exactly what the mid-1980s needed.” (Philip Random)
In which Devo lay down their worldview in three and a half minutes or less. Yes, it’s a Beautiful World. Too bad it sucks. Which, if you were young and reasonably smart (raised on the ideals of the ever expanding western world only to see them turn on themselves as they did with the collapse of the Hippie 60s and their sorry fallout) was the only sane way to see things. Punk rock all the way – just pursuing different means.