Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Working in the Coal Mine" by Devo

Song#:  0730
Date:  09/05/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  43
Weeks:  12
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Devo's unexpected 1980 hit "Whip It" (#14) from the platinum LP "Freedom of Choice" got them a lot of attention and there was heavy expectations for their follow-up. The set of songs they recorded included this tune, but their label (Warner Bros.) balked at its inclusion so it was cut from the final track listing. Then Devo was approached about contributing a song to the film "Heavy Metal" and they offered up this leftover. It got in the film and ended up being the second single released from the soundtrack. The single got a little traction and almost popped into the Top 40. With their new album, "New Traditionalists," pressed and ready, Warner Bros. couldn't add it to the LP to capitalize on the success, so they pressed 7" singles of the song and attached them to the album. It helped a bit to include the song, but with no other songs from the album hitting the chart, the LP stalled at #23 and failed to even go gold.

ReduxReview:  "Lord...I am so tired! How long can this go on!!" I still recite that line today. I wasn't aware of the original when this came out and thought it was just another quirky tune from Devo. We were so hooked on the "New Traditionalists" album and it was one of a minor few that supplied the soundtrack to our many nights of crusin' the Ave. This song was included on the cassette version, so it was part of our ritual. I don't think it was until The Judds did a version that I realized this was a remake. Because, I mean...The Judds covering Devo? I don't think so.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song written by New Orleans R&B great Allen Toussaint around 1965. It was recorded by soul singer Lee Dorsey and his single reached #8 in 1966 (#5 R&B). Many other artists have covered the song including Pure Prairie League and The Judds, but Devo's version is the only other one to reach the chart.


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