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Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978)

September 21, 2013

[Album 238/1001]220px-Are_We_Not_Men_We_Are_Devo!

Though this album may not end up near the top of my 1001 album rankings, its punctuation-happy title surely deserves to be classified among the best titles!

It appears the term ‘one-hit-wonder’ should perhaps be discontinued (along with words like chillax, swag…).  The reason in this case?  It reveals the ignorance of the speaker.

What are some one-hit wonders?  Before this project I would have said groups like Dexys Midnight Runners, A-ha, Soft Cell, and Devo.  Well, they all have albums on the 1001 list, Dexys has three!  So calling a group a one-hit wonder seems to show the accuser is only familiar with the mainstream hit and he/she is solely responsible for not bothering to explore beyond the most accessible tune.

I haven’t heard Soft Cell’s entry yet, but overall I prefer the records I’ve heard by Dexys & A-ha to this one.

Satisfaction is anything but a carbon copy of the Stones’ original.  Stones fans may find it somewhat sacrilegious but it’s a fresh take, if not overly memorable.  Jocko Homo‘s chorus features the album title call and answer and is the track that drifts furthest into ‘novelty territory’ (1980’s Whip It would of course redefine Novelty!).

Devo’s (anyone else think of Devon White when they hear Devo?) debut was not an album I loved or loathed, more a lesson in not jumping to conclusions.

Naturally, the two finest movies of all time summarize my learning experience here about the dangers of pigeon-holing groups like Devo:

Wayne Campbell (said in Cantonese, with English subtitles) – “If you label me, you negate me”

Marty McFly (when saying goodbye to his parents in 1955) – “It’s been…educational”

From → 1970s

  1. I don’t know if it’s on this album, but yesterday I listened to Fu Manchu’s cover of “Freedom of Choice” by Devo. It was pretty awesome, but very different from the original.

    • That wasn’t on this one – but I keep being surprised to hear all the artists that have covered Devo, everyone from Alvin & The Chipmunks to Nirvana!

  2. Alvin surprises me! And let’s not forget this classic version by Waylon Smithers:

    • that’s a new clip to me, love Smithers! Incidentally, The Simpsons might have the best supporting cast of all time with Smithers, Mr. Burns, Wiggum, Milhouse…the list continues, seemingly indefinitely!

      • And musically talented cast members too, such as Harry Shearer aka Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap, as pretty close to half the cast!

      • That’s incredible – I knew he was one of the voice actors but didn’t realize he voiced most of my favourites, Skinner’s currently my #1!

  3. He also does Otto the bus driver! In fact if you listen to the Spinal Tap song “Cash on Delivery”, it’s basically the Otto voice. Dead ringer!

    But we were talking about Devo! Hah!

    • That’s Otto alright – and it’s the six degrees of separation that eventually leads back to Devo I’m sure!
      Hard to find much negative to say about Spinal Tap – in my math classes, I use the Stonehenge fiasco (18″ vs. 18′) to stress the importance of writing the proper measurement units!

  4. Fantastic! So important! In my business (I now work in the steel industry supplying large railcar parts) having the correct measurements is the different between profit and loss! One little instructional mistake like that and you have cut short a piece that normally sells for up to $2000 each!

    • Yikes – though as a silver lining, I now have a ‘real-life why math is important’ example to share with the classes on Monday, my thanks!

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