My Vinyl Collection: Devo Special Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of the Devo Special of My Vinyl Collection, an informal trip through my record collection with quick photos (click to enlarge) and descriptions. 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.

I got this fairly rare 12 inch promo for New Traditionalists from a nice little record store in Whitby, they had a fantastic set of Devo vinyl so I also picked up a Shout single from the same store. This promo contains three tracks from New Traditionalists... Jerkin' Back 'N' Forth on Side 1 and then Going Under and Through Being Cool on Side 2.

I don't know if it's just me but this record sounds far better than the album pressing (below)... it sounds clearer and has a bigger kick to it which was a very nice surprise when I played this for the first time. For a thirty year old record it sounds remarkably crystal clear. I'd go as far as to say it might have only been played ten to twenty times as there is not a single speck of noise on this little beauty. The artwork is simple but really nice, a white jacket with a print on the front of Nu-Tra. Easily one of my favourite Devo records I own.

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Perhaps a sign of some bad things to come, New Traditionalists boasts a very synthetic sound as if it were written on a grid. Every track is straight to the point with little deviation. Although this record has some great guitar playing throughout it is often pushed back to make room for the synths and from here on Devo would push the guitar further and further out of view... In their defence though I have to say that New Traditionalists is one of my favourite Devo records and has a sound that although very rigid is very creative, playful and unique. Highlights of the album are the opener Through Being Cool, the addictive chugging pop beauty Jerkin' Back 'n' Forth, the dramatic Going Under and the 'optimistic' anthem Beautiful World.

The back cover of this record with the band looking to the left is the original Warner Bros. US artwork which I very much prefer to the alternate cover we got over here in the UK... The UK cover has its own charm though, featuring Booji Boy and the band wearing a very gaudy get up with hands that look like they've been painted slightly red. This was the second album to be produced by Devo and they did a great job here, much better than Duty Now For The Future.

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I got this 7 inch single only a week ago as I had never actually seen it in the UK before. It features Nu-Tra on the cover in lovely vibrant colour. Everything about this cover is classic Devo and I just love it. I would love to one day own the picture disc version of this single (here) but this will do for now! The single has a jukebox style hole which I actually prefer for 7 inch singles. Very happy to have this in my collection.

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There's something not quite Devo about the front cover of this Through Being Cool single, I really like the detail of the band on the back but apart from that it just doesn't shout Devo to me. This single was released in the US but I'm not sure whether it had any artwork. The UK got two versions, one with a simple cover and the version I have here where the cover unfolds to reveal a lovely Church of SubGenius style colour poster.

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Only a year after New Traditionalists Devo returned with an album unlike anything they had done before... synths took up even more space and the guitars fell further back, this could have been due to Bob Mothersbaugh's substance addictions at the time... not a very happy time I'm sure.

In many ways Oh No! It's Devo was Devo trying to do pop but this was pop through demonic clown glasses! I love this album, it has a sound all its own and you get the sense that Devo had to get this album out of their system as quickly as possible. It feels as though many things were taking place at the time in music and technology and Devo wanted to lead and push this new technology.

Although I love this album I do wish that Devo spent an extra year fleshing out some of the songs and the concepts they had for their live shows; with a little extra time it could have been something really special. Oh No! It's Devo is perhaps overly ambitious, with some of its ideas coming off better than others. Around the release of the album Devo played the album in 3D on live television, what transpired was a messy performance where video and music fell way out of sync and everything just fell apart... devolution is real!

The artwork features the heads of Devo's five members transplanted on to matching levitating spuds speeding down a highway... a surreal image indeed! The icing on this nutty cake is a naked (or at least topless!) Mark Mothersbaugh holding this image whilst pouting very oddly at the camera!  He's wearing a digital red watch, a watch that I now have an extreme desire to seek out. This has got to be Devo's oddest cover, it kind of works because it goes so far, it's surreal and daft but somehow captivating, entertaining and very Devo. Highlights of the album for me are Time Out For Fun, Speed Racer, What I Must Do (one of the most underrated Devo tracks out there) and YMO-esq Deep Sleep.

Peek-a-Boo! (1982)

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Ah, the Peek-a-Boo single, a great single with amazing artwork, a remix and an extended version of Peek-a-Boo and one of my all time favourite Devo tracks, Find Out. There were some really great tracks that didn't make the final cut of Oh No! It's Devo including Faster & Faster, Find Out and Part of You. I'm very thankful and happy that Find Out at least got the full studio treatment and was released as a B-Side; it is a brilliant and underrated Devo track that every Devo fan should track down. I keep the vinyl in a Yazoo inner as... well it's in better use keeping a Devo vinyl clean, the Yazoo album can burn in hell!

Shout (1984)

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The ill-fated and much hated Shout. I had heard so much bad stuff about this album that it actually turned out to be one of the last Devo albums I got my hands on. Yet what I found when listening through the album for the first time was a slick set of songs that walk the thin line between being infectious and annoying, an album nowhere near as bad as people would have you believe. The sound of the album brings to mind TV or movie themes with a very digital sound which is sure to rub many listeners the wrong way. The production is so loud and in your face that it is hard to get through the whole album in one sitting, it kind of rips away at your ears but I kind of like listening to it now and then in short bursts.

My favourite tracks are The 4th Dimension, C'mon and Jurisdiction of Love... strangely enough the three singles that were released to promote this album Shout, Here To Go, Are You Experienced are some of the weakest tracks on the album... Shout would be the last Devo album to feature original Devo member Alan Myers on drums, soon after the release of the album he quit as he wasn't happy with the direction Devo were moving in, a very sad departure.

I got this single along with the New Traditionalists promo (above) from a lovely small record shop in Whitby. I just had to buy this oddity, a double single of Shout/C'mon alongside Devo's first single Jocko Homo/Mongoloid, why you'd stick these two singles together is beyond me but it stands as one of the more curious Devo singles out there.

I like the design of this set even it is very odd. The sleeve has a nice gloss finish and is printed on fairly thick card. The records themselves are nice and thick and have odd centre labels unlike any I've seen before; they're raised and have the writing punched out of them. The Jocko Homo single incorrectly credits Brian Eno as the producer where in fact the versions pressed on this single are the earlier Devo self recorded and produced versions.

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My advice to you when approaching Smooth Noodle Maps is this, ignore the horribly dated promotional videos for Post Post-Modern Man and just listen to the album itself. The two videos for the single really aren't up to much but the album itself is one of Devo's most overlooked and underrated albums and finds them on better form following the terrible 1988 release Total Devo. To this day the only Devo album I don't own a physical copy of; Total Devo was a horrible mushy set of songs that were polite to the point of being severely grating and hollow... the only okay tracks being Happy Guy and I'd Cry If You Died.

So skip to 1990 and to Devo's second stab at their grand comeback, Smooth Noodle Maps was Devo's second album to be released on the ill-fated Enigma records, a record label which went down in history for their notoriously bad handling of their artists. The album finds Devo on much stronger ground than Total Devo and features a nice production job and a handful of good tracks. It will never rival the early albums but tracks like A Change Is Gonna Cum, Big Picture, Devo Has Feelings Too made a good case for Devo continuing with their music career  Sadly though it wasn't meant to be, Enigma folded and Devo wouldn't release a new album for twenty years.

Around the lead up to Devo's latest album - 2010's Something For Everybody - I became a member of now defunct Devo forum Spud Talk (R.I.P) where the debate, speculation and excitement surrounding this forthcoming release was infectious. One of the most memorable and interesting aspects of the album was the promotion campaign which promised 'something for everybody'... there were a handful of polls and questionnaires leading up to the release, the results of these odd and often amusing questionnaires would apparently go toward sculpting what the album would sound like and what visual concepts would go along with the music. This 'something for everybody' approach seeped into every nook and cranny of the record and influenced the whole album from top to bottom. 'Give the people what they want and they will spend their money' seemed to be the preferred approach, this plan of attack was reflected and satirised through the artwork accompanying the album which depicted freaky airbrushed, commercial images of people of all ages and ethnicity going gaga for the new blue Energy Dome. I love the artwork for this album; it is an instant classic that stands up there with the artwork for Q: Are We Not Men and Freedom of Choice.

What you get with the vinyl version of Something For Everybody is a limited edition blue clear vinyl which looks incredible, a nice big double sided inner filled with artwork, and a CD copy of the album. The pressing of the vinyl is a bit hit and miss, some tracks sound brilliant where as others sound extremely noisy and clipped. Hopefully if this album is ever re-released in the future these problems will be rectified.

So, on to the music. I believe Something For Everybody is easily the best thing Devo have released since 1982's Oh No! It's Devo and whilst it perhaps doesn't do enough to win over new fans it has enough going for it that it really doesn't matter. My favourite tracks are What We Do, Human Rocket, Cameo and Mind Games. The album saw Devo re-sign to Warner Bros which was both a blessing (the money) and a curse (lack of dedication) yet it's arguable that without signing to Warner Bros we never would have gotten a new Devo album. The album was meant to be toured around the world but that sadly never happened... I just hope that this isn't the end, there has never been a better time for Devo to go 100% independent, I hope they do so and release a new album soon.

This Record Store Day 2012 exclusive, limited to around 2,500 units, finds Devo releasing through Booji Boy Records for the first time since the 1970's. This double vinyl is a real treat to own and I hope more shows get the same treatment. You get two lovely thick vinyl and two single sided high quality archive photographs housed in a lovely Nu-Tra themed cover. The show itself is chock full of classics, the New Traditionalists album is often overlooked in favour of the Q: Are We Not Men? and Freedom of Choice albums so it is really nice to have the focus squarely on this less documented era in Devo's history. The record finishes with some older Devo classics including Jocko Homo and Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA. I was so desperate to get a copy of this on Record Store Day that I actually took the day off work to queue up outside Casbah Records in Greenwich from around 9am. I then went into town and around Soho which was heaving, Sister Ray in particular had a queue of around 150 people and this is around 3 hours after they opened their doors. Fingers crossed Devo will release another live set for Record Store Day 2013.

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

Posted: 4th January 2013


  1. Hi, I really enjoyed reading this post. I have quite a lot of these records (although not all of them) and your enthusiasm has got me itching to spend an afternoon just pouring over my Devo collection. I also really enjoyed the personal asides about where you bought these and your approach to Yazoo...! Great stuff - going to go back and read part 1 now!

  2. Hey, David! Love your My Vinyl Collection posts, and particularly your Devo Special posts within it. You mist definitely need to find your way to the Totally DEVOted group on Facebook. We'd love to have you there!

  3. Just noticed these two comments, thanks guys, really means a lot that people have spent some time here. Will look out for the Facebook group too.


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