A steady flow of new music was coming from the UK and the New York punk scene was on its last leg. The Ramones were still brilliant. Blondie had polished up and were already a hit in the pop charts. There seemed to be nothing new and creative for at least two weeks. In those days, that was a long time.
Going to my usual spot on the Record Stop wall to see what new singles were available. Nipo points out one that he considered to be the weirdest thing he had heard. Coming from Nipo, that meant something.
The cover was guys who looked sort of robotic wearing gym shorts. Above it said De-Evolution – Jocko Homo / Mongoloid. What? Ok. Of course this had to be listened to.
The band was Devo. They were from Akron Ohio. The concept was de-evolution. the human race was devolving, or getting stupider and we would some day get to the point of no return. (like that would ever happen….um…wait)
The song was very strange. It sounded like it was recorded in a basement and had an odd synthesizer sound and the vocals were foreign to me. Like nothing I had ever heard before. Of course I loved it. No surprise there.
Devo quickly became an interesting band I wanted to know more about. They were more than just a rock band, or a punk band. Devo was a concept. Not a concept like prog-rock(ugh). More like Einstein meets David Bowie meets Brian Eno.
And of course, good old Brian Eno jumps on the bandwagon and produces the first album.
By the time Devo’s first album came out, they were already a sensation, among the knowing. Like many punk acts before, a highly anticipated debut. Also, like many punk bands before, they delivered much more than expected.
“Are We not Men, We Are Devo” is a full on assault of high-powered punk rock but with all the elements of a B-Movie and a physics lab that just blew up. If that doesn’t make any sense, it describes Devo to a tee, I think.
Devo hit Saturday Night Live and literally became an overnight sensation. I remember seeing them at the Bottom Line and the line to get in was around the block. It was a happening. It was exciting. it was the beginning of De-evolution. The 80’s were coming and Devo was the band to watch.
I loved the first album from the opening chords of “Uncontrollable Urge”, which sounded a bit like I Wanna Hold Your Hand, to the loungy jazz of “Shrivel up”. This album is amazing. It’s clever, funny and just the right amount of sexual double entendre to make it fun.
I am proud to say I got a hold of an actual Devo suit (yellow jumpsuit) which I wore at Record World once and even to a Halloween party. needless to say, people were confused. Good times.
Devo followed up with more brilliant albums. “Duty Now For the Future” further explores the de-evolution theme and is probably my favorite Devo album. “Freedom Of Choice” exalted them into stardom with the hit “Whip It” which was celebrated more as a novelty song than art. Oh well.
Still all three albums were brilliant.
Devo still tours today and I am proud to say I have seen them recently. They are still great. They recently put out a great album, “Something For Everybody” which proves their talent was well beyond the novelty they were pegged as back in the day.