It's Devo Day in Tampa Bay: Top 5 Devo albums if you can't make the show
Devo and Blondie are in Tampa Bay today for the unlikeliest of shows -- a rare outdoor, old-school New Wave joint billing in Pinellas Park. Sadly, I won't be at the show -- my "duty now" requires me to be in the office -- but I remembered that we long ago published a list of the top 5 Devo albums, courtesy of Doug Arthur, one of our longtime Stuck in the '80s friends. So if you can't make the show, use your freedom of choice and download one of these albums instead.
THE TOP 5 DEVO ALBUMS:
5. SHOUT (1984) One of their most maligned albums, but there are a lot of hidden gems on this album. Includes their devolved version of the Jimi Hendrix classic, Are You Experienced? My key cuts here include C'mon, The Fourth Dimension and The Jurisdiction Of Love.
4. NEW TRADITIONALISTS (1981) The followup to Freedom of Choice includes the classics Beautiful World, Jerkin' Back And Forth, Working In The Coalmine, We're Through Being Cool and my personal fave, Going Under. This was the album where they slipped deeper into the electronics, eschewing the guitars and drum kit for a more fully robotic and synthesized sound.
3. FREEDOM OF CHOICE (1980) If people only have one Devo album, it is usually this one. Whip It is actually one of the weaker songs on this collection. This has the great title track, Gates Of Steel, Ton O' Luv and Girl U Want. This album features an almost even mix of real instruments and electronics.
2. Q: ARE WE NOT MEN? A: WE ARE DEVO! (1978). This is the one that burst them onto the scene. At the height of disco and punk this was a clarion call to the New Wave. An odd mixture of punk rock, avant-garde electronics and science fiction. Strangely danceable, too! Key tracks here include the Island of Dr. Moreau-influenced Jocko Homo, Uncontrollable Urge, Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy and Too Much Paranoias.
1. DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE (1979) Shucking away the gloss and sheen of Brian Eno's production on their first album, the spud boys unleashed a sonic assault worthy of their claim that they were the "sound of things falling apart." Starting with the deceptively plaintive instrumental Devo Corporate Anthem, it suddenly lurches into the furtive punk of Clockout, and doesn't slow down much after that. Key tracks here include Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA, Blockhead, The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize, Wiggly World and Pink Pussycat ... not to mention their devolved cover of the Johnny Rivers classic Secret Agent Man. As General Boy famously said back in one of their early, groundbreaking videos, "We must need what we want, we must want what we need, and what we need is Duty Now For The Future!"