My Vinyl Collection: Devo Special Part 1

Welcome back! And welcome to the Devo Special of My Vinyl Collection, an informal trip through my collection with quick photos and descriptions. I haven't optimised any of the photos using Photoshop as I usually would, the main reason for this is it would be too time consuming as there are a lot of records to get through. For each vinyl there will be a little write up, it might be about the packaging, the music, where I got the record etc... enjoy!... and see below for links to other parts.

P.S. look out for part 2 of my Devo collection early in the new year and sorry this has taken so long for me to put together!

Cat: DEV 1 / 7033-14
I got this, the first Devo release, in Brighton at a place called Wax Factor for around £5. This is an original american pressing that was imported in by Stiff Records who sold it with the edition of the 'DEV 1' sticker on the front. They'd go on to make UK editions of this classic single but this is an original US release which was apparently assembled by Devo themselves back in the day. This is the second print of the record with blue ink on the inner rather than black but other than that it is a 'first edition' release. It has an odd run out message with the A's and V turned upside down on 'A: We Are Devo'. I could be wrong but I believe this single contains tracks recorded by the early line up of Devo which included Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh's brother Jim (Jungle Jim) on drums instead of Alan Myers. This is a fantastic single, the recording is primitive, the sound too! I love the early demos of Devo, this single features slowerer versions of their classic devolution anthem 'Jocko Homo' and a wigged out 'Mongoloid'. Absolutely essential punk single.

Cat: BOY 1
A fantastic early version of Devo's rendition of the Rolling Stones classic 'Satisfaction', it kind of changes the song into an odd wonky rythmic pulse. I prefer the album version of this track but this is still a great version of the song to own, it is again, more primitive and slower but is great nonetheless. On the B-side is 'Sloppy', I love the recording on this version, the drums sound great and the synth gurgles are amazing. This is a Stiff Records release but in conjunction with Devo's own Booji Boy Records. I don't really get what they done with the lettering on this release with all the umlauts and stuff, it doesn't appear on any other edition of this single. Very strange! Run out message 'money talks people mumble'.

Be Stiff (1978)

Cat: BOY 2
Third Devo single and as the run out message puts it '3rd time lucky'. This single features a Brian Eno produced 'Be Stiff', to my ears the version on this addition is different to version that appears on the collection Pioneers Who Got Scalped but I guess it's only minor differences. This is a classic track which was originally written in the early 'Hardcore Devo' days by one time member Bob Lewis. The version here is much faster and energetic than the early version which is more a lovely stompy swampy mess! The track would go on to become a kind of theme tune for Stiff Records and was covered by many Stiff Records artists. This really is a classic Devo tune and is probably their most iconic track not to feature on an album. The B-side is a similarly energetic track 'Social Fools' which was produced by Devo themselves and shows their improved production techniques. I love this track and I just love this single, both tracks are classics that hold up incredibly well today and neither ended up appearing on an album. The artwork is, again, classic Devo, it features a picture of golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez taken from packaging for a golf ball set. The image would later be used for the Warner Bros editions of Devo's debut album but with cosmetic changes to the face due to threat of legal action, he would end up looking even more monstrous and plastic than he already did here, now that is Devo!

B Stiff (1978)

Cat: ODD 1
EP released on Stiff Records which collects together the three previous singles on to the first 12" Devo record. I remember when I was first getting into Devo for some reason this is the record I wanted most of theirs, it was something about the Dada-esque artwork perhaps... but I didn't get this 'til about a year ago and I don't really feel that it fits in with the rest of the Devo records as the artwork is just totally different. As far as I'm aware it was the only official Devo release not to have the okay by Devo on the artwork. Great tracks on this 12" but I prefer to listen to the original 7" records as the chronology is a little messed up on this release. Nice to own nevertheless.

Devonia (1978?)

Cat: RR-003
Early bootleg of 'Hardcore' era demos and a few live recordings on the end of the record. Features early versions of 'Be Stiff', 'Devo Corp. Anthem' etc but also some great tracks that never got on to an album. Classics like 'Auto Modown' and 'Space Girl Blues' are great to own on vinyl. The live tracks at the end are amazing, especially the way that 'Timing X' (played impeccably) surges into 'Soo Bawlz'... so incredible, they work so well off of one another. The packaging for this release is typically bootleg, seems like they wanted to get it out there are quickly as possible... so what you get is a plain white sleeve with an A3(?) black and white sheet stuck around it. The record itself has an extremely bog standard label, I get the feeling they were trying to cash in on Devo as quickly as possible, strike while the iron hot as they say. I think the packaging has its own charm though.

Workforce To The World - Live On Site (1978)

This live bootleg tries to look as official as possible and I think they did a great job with the packaging which includes a single sided inner with lyrics, an interesting little diagram on the back and full colour artwork on the front... but obviously they didn't want to raise too much suspicion so there is no mention of Devo anywhere on the release, instead the record is created to Workforce To The World... hmm... I kind of like this live set but it isn't anything particularly special, definitely for completists only. The recording is taken from a gig in San Fransisco with the addition of two track recorded in Devo's native Ohio. I'm not sure whether this and the other Devo bootleg are from before or after the release of Q: Are We Not Men? but I'm tempted to say before.

Cat: BSK 3239 // V 2106 // VP 2106
The Brian Eno produced debut album, the album that really started it all. The debut marked a tighter, sharper and faster Devo than before and is still seen by many as their best album (although it probably isn't my personal favourite). As soon as 'Uncontrollable Urge' opens the album you are instantly thrown into the album, it's a great opening that grabs your attention straight away with its infection energy. Other highlights are the revised versions of 'Jocko Homo', 'Satisfaction' and 'Mongoloid' and the guitar led anthem that is 'Gut Feeling / Slap Your Mammy'. I love this album, each subsequent album would push the guitars further and further back but here they really shine through and the synth lines are great when they do appear. I own three copies of this album, the UK Virgin releases feature stills from their first 'music video' The Truth About De-Evolution whereas the US Warner Bros version features a recombonated Chi Chi Rodriguez who was earlier used on the Be Stiff single. I much prefer the US artwork which is almost always seen as the 'official' artwork of the debut album. I think there might have been some disagreements with Virgin and Warner Bros at the time as Devo's first two albums feature totally different album artwork between the Virgin and Warner Bros editions, Virgin pulling the short straw both times.

Cat: V 2125
The second Devo album is one of my personal favourite by the band, it perhaps doesn't have the thematic brilliance of an album like Freedom of Choice or Oh No! It's Devo but it does have some great tracks... a ton of which didn't make it on to the debut or were being played live around the time of the first album. I have a few gripes with this album which stop it from being my favourite Devo album, firstly the album was produced by Devo... Now, their production had gotten a lot better since the first singles but there are some amazing tracks here that could have done with that extra production push to really make them shine... even a stone cold classic like Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA just seems to yearn for that extra push to bring everything into sharper focus. My second big gripe is that there are a few underdeveloped tracks here that ruin the flow of the album somewhat, I'm thinking in particular of S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain) and Blockhead, two great tracks for sure but I just wished they had pushed them further. This album brings the synths higher in the mix than the debut and shows signs of things to come. For example there are some great pop snippets like The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise which suggest the more pop and less punk sound of later albums and a track like Strange Pursuit which almost sounds like an early track from New Traditionalists era Devo. I love this album, it isn't perfect but I love it all the same. Again, as with the debut, us UK spuds pulled the short straw with the artwork, the US cover art is far superior and hope to own a copy in the near future.

Click here for my cover of Timing X.

Cat: V 2126
The fantastically influential breakthrough album that flung Devo on to radios around the world with the surprise hit single Whip It - a brilliantly infectious track with a rather rude video that must have really shocked audiences at the time. Each new album finds Devo in new attire but it is probably the costumes for the Freedom of Choice album that are most recognisably 'Devo'... one item would prove to be particularly popular with both spud boys and spud girls around the world, of course I'm talking about the beautiful Energy Dome which helps reduce the lose of energy that is expelled from the top of the head and showers it back through your body... and no, they're not flower pots! Freedom of Choice has a subtle theme to the tracks that makes them all fit together, this is feel-good, bona fide American, motivational music with a sarcastic and cynical undercurrent, That's Pep is a happy go lucky track of bouncing back and not letting anything knock you down whereas a track like Gates of Steel asks you to 'twist away those gates of steel... and twist and shout!'. I love this album, the production is leaps and bounds better than Duty Now For The Future (although perhaps not as good as Eno's production on Q: Are We Not Men?) and the album contains a constant stream of memorable and diverse tracks from the wonky Girl U Want to the down right odd and paranoid Planet Earth that closes the album this is a fantastic bunch of tracks. The UK and US versions of this release would feature the same incredible artwork, easily one of my favourite album covers of all time... although the version I own has an odd set of omissions on the back cover, if you look at the Q: Are We Not Men? album picture on the back you may notice that the golf ball background for Chi Chi Rodriguez is simply a white circle and doesn't feature the indents of a golf ball, plus  'Q: Are We Not Men?' isn't written on it like it should, very strange!

Whip It (1980)

Cat: VS 383
The Whip It single, one of my latest Devo purchases as I didn't have much desire for it. I like both tracks on here but I'm not a fan of the artwork, I feel it was a missed opportunity. Sadly the version of Snowball on this particular version of this single isn't the 'Single Remix' that is featured on the Pioneers Who Got Scalped compilation, a great remix that is actually better than the album version.

Devo Live (1980)

Cat: OVED 1
How better to capitalise on the success of an artist than to quickly rush out a short live EP when the iron is hot? This is a nice release but nothing spectacular... I like the design of the Energy Dome on the label (a design Devo still use today) and I've always liked the font used here for 'Devo' as well. I'm glad this exists and it's very cheap to buy if you do come across it but it's isn't essential. The way the crowd react to Whip It suggests to me that there were a lot of new fans in the audience and shows Devo had really hit the big time!

>>> See links to other My Vinyl Collection posts in the right side bar >>>

Posted: 26th November 2012


  1. I like you coined a new phrase here: 'infection energy'! Very Devo. What don't you like about the 'Whip It' artwork? I was surprised it was so different to the strong visual ethos established by the music video and Freedom of Choice artwork, but I also kind of love it for that fact. Equally I love the Be Stiff EP artwork - still holding out for a rare French yellow vinyl pressing of that one!

    P.S. - you can read my ramblings about the U.S. pressing of theSatisfaction single here:

    1. Just stumbled upon your message... my bad! I think that was a typo, it was supposed to be infectious energy.

      I still don't really like the Whip It artwork, it just doesn't jump out at me or feel in line with the song or video.

      Just checking your blog out now, thanks for reading J. Split.


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