Category: Devo

Devo – Freedom of Choice

ARTIST: Devo                                       DevoFreedomofChoice

TITLE: Freedom of Choice

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #22 US, #47 UK

SINGLES: Whip It (#14 US, #8 Dance, #51 UK), Freedom of Choice (#103 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Girl U Want, Gates of Steel

LINEUP: Mark Motherspaugh, Gerald V. Casale, Bob Motherspaugh, Bob Casale, Alan Myers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The ‘breakthrough’ thanks to a fluky single, but it was a decent album.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Regrouping after a disappointing second album, Devo moved toward a synth pop sound while keeping guitars for flourishes and fills. The heavy lifting was on keyboards and synths.

Starting off strong with “Girl U Want”, the album announced Devo as a vanguard of synth music in the 80’s. “Whip It”, a fluky hit (catchy as heck, and the meaning zoomed past everyone almost). The closest song to the old sound is the title track, a martial call to individualism and a condemnation of complacency. Normal Devo stuff, as it were.

The album has some filler, but there’s no stunning lows or head scrathers as on their last album. The high points, though (including “Gates of Steel” and “Mr. B’s Ballroom” along with the other cuts listed above) raise up the grade.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Gates of Steel” was co-written with two friends from the Akron music scene.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Live versions and demos..

 GRADE A-: There’s some real Devo gold here, as it were!

Devo – Duty Now for the Future

ARTIST: Devo          220px-Devo_-_Duty_Now

TITLE:  Duty Now for the Future

YEAR RELEASED: 1979

CHART ACTION: #73 US, #49 UK

SINGLES: The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize, Secret Agent Man

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Clockout, Wiggly World.

LINEUP: Mike Motherspaugh, Gerald V. Casale. Bob Motherspaugh, Bob Casale, Alan Myers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: While there’s some great songs here, much of the album seems forced, or is just filler. 220px-Devo-DutyNowUK

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If there ever was a record to skip through, this one is it. While there are some absolute classics (“Clockout, “Wiggly World”, “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA”), there is definitely some filler her, and some retread ideas and themes (“Blockhead” and “SIB” is definitely the latter, “Red Eye” is former).

Because of the meh/good/meh nature of the album, it’s definitely a disappointment. I am sure there are some themes inherit to the record on why cuts one and three were synth instrumentals, and why they’d put a song as annoying as “Pink Pussycat” on here, but the album is what it is.

The good songs are worth grabbing for sure, and they add to the Devo story. The relative failure of this album put Devo back a bit.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Secret Agent Man” is a cover of the Johnny Rivers song, with some new lyrics.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: They paired this with their fourth album (?) on CD for a while, then released a version with a lot of bonus cuts.

GRADE: B-: They could do better, and would in the future

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

devo

ARTIST: Devo
TITLE: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
YEAR RELEASED: 1978
CHART ACTION: #78 US, #12 UK
SINGLES: Satisfaction (#41 UK), Jocko Homo (#62 UK), Come Back Jonee (#60 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Uncontrollable Urge, Mongolid and Jocko Homo (which has the title of the record in the refrain) but you probably have heard the whole record at some point if you hung out with the nerds and geeks.
LINEUP: Mark Motherspaugh, Gerald V. Casale, Bob I Motherspaugh, Bob II Casale, Alan Myers
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Art damaged Ohioans confound the Western World with their philosophy of “de-evolution”, whilst dressed in yellow haz-mat suits with 3-D glasses.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mind you, when this first showed up in record stores it was definitely mind-bending to the straights. Their deranged take on Satisfaction stirred up some trouble. However, through all of the weirdness are some great songs and great playing, and Uncontrollable Urge is just a flat out ripper as an album starter. This is a definite classic and perhaps the beginning of American post-punk.

One secret to Devo’s success is that they don’t sacrifice the melody even when being obtuse and strange. You can sing along to pretty much everything on this record (except Too Much Paranoias, but that has its charm as well).

NOTES & MINUTAE: Devo was around for four years or so before they recorded this, and definitely honed their vision and their songs. They released an EP in the UK in 1977 (“Be Stiff”) that isn’t available anywhere but the cuts are scattered here and there on compilations. So they weren’t a raw band going into the studio.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, there are bonus track options and an entire albums worth of live tracks is appended onto the Google Play version.

GRADE: A:  This is what a debut record should be. Smart, uncompromising, and visionary.