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Recording of David Bowie and Brian Eno Jamming With Devo Discovered

Michael Loccisano / Jo Hale, Getty Images
Michael Loccisano / Jo Hale, Getty Images

Q: Is there a recording of David Bowie jamming with Devo? A: You bet! Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh revealed the existence of the recording at a tribute to the late icon in New York City yesterday.

The event was held at Sonos, where Nikki Sixx of Motley Crüe, Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy, photographer Mick Rock and Mothersbaugh each shared stories paired with their favorite Bowie songs.

Mothersbaugh said he had recently stumbled upon a set of tapes of a jam session that included Brian Eno, Holger Czukay of Can, members of Devo and Bowie. ““I haven’t listened to it yet because I just found this tape,” he said, according to Bedford and Bowery.

The recording came from sessions for Devo’s debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!, which were recorded at producer Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne, Germany. Eno produced the album, with input, and later remixing, from Bowie, who was nearby filming Just a Gigolo. All members of Devo except the bassist (who missed his flight) participated in the jam session.

Mothersbaugh found the tapes after bringing his band’s archive to his studio. In the process, he also found the 24-track master tapes used for the band’s album demos, including Eno’s documentation of each song’s instruments, effects and settings. “There’s these tracks down below that say things like: ‘David’s vocals’ and ‘Brian’s extra synths.’ And I’m like, ‘I remember turning that stuff off when we were doing our final mixes,’” Mothersbaugh said.

He explained that the band had been reluctant to use vocals from the star, having already had poor experiences when other industry folks interfered in their music. “I’m thinking we should see what’s on those tapes. … I’m really curious to see what the heck they did,” he said, joking that Devo “might have been more successful” if they had used Bowie’s vocal tracks.

 

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