Rock Snub Week, Day 5: Those Crazy Spuds from Akron…Devo!

8.17 Devo Logo

It’s Friday once again, folks! End of the week, the weekend laying ahead of us with the promise of rest, relaxation and fun on the agenda for many of us. For those of you who work the weekends, I feel your pain as I used to have to work every other weekend when I was working as a medical technologist in all three hospitals in which I worked. Yet, for the retired sect, of which I belong, even though I am technically disabled as well, I have heard people describe retirement as six Saturdays and a Sunday. I am not there yet, and, in likelihood, never will, I still like to dream.

8.17 Devo - 1977 crop
Our heroes in 1977

So far this week, I have presented four very iconic artists who all share something in common: they continue to be ignored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Since I really don’t have all that much going on in my life, and I do tire of watching microbiology videos in an effort to live vicariously through researchers throughout the world, I believe I may have stumbled upon an induction process for the RRHOF to follow in the future, I am in the process of cleaning up the idea before I present this idea sometime soon. So, for all of you Hall-philes, I really think I might have an idea that I would love to present.

8.17 Devo - SNL
Devo on Saturday Night Live in 1978

But, first thing first, let’s finish off this week of Hall Snubs. So far this week, I have presented Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, New Order and Boston as artists who all deserve Hall induction as far as I am concerned. Now, it would be much easier to make arguments on behalf of artists such as Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Paul Revere & the Raiders, King Crimson, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Gram Parsons & the Flying Burrito Brothers, Motörhead, Kraftwerk, Def Leppard, The Spinners, Duran Duran, Chic, The Chi-Lites, The Smiths and Pixies, but I wanted to put the spotlight on less obvious artists. So, let’s finish this week with the first band to appeal to nerds everywhere in the universe, everyone’s favorite spuds from Akron, Ohio, Devo!

Legend has it that Devo began as a reaction to the 1970 Kent State University student massacre during which Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four students and injured several others during a peaceful anti-Vietnam War protest. That’s when Kent State art students Mark Motherspaugh and Bob Casale developed the theory of “de-evolution,” in which man had reached its peak and was being to regress.” Combining deconstructed and disorienting pop and rock songs that had unusual synthetic instrumentation, sounds and time signatures with social commentary and satire, science fiction kitsch and deadpan surrealist humor proved in the very long run to be influential across genres. The band began to gig around Ohio and all points east, gaining a strong following which led to the band being signed to England’s Stiff Records. The final endorsement came from none other than David Bowie, as he introduced the band’s performance at CBGB during the punk rock heyday. After that, momentum carried Devo far.

8.17 Neil Young & Devo - Into the Black
Devo (with Mark Motherspaugh as Booji Boy) performing a rousing version of “Into the Black” for Young’s ill-fated movie, ‘Human Highway.’

In 1978, Devo released its immortal debut, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo, on Warner Bros. Shortly thereafter, the band’s profile increased with their famous performance on Saturday Night Live’s second episode of their highly acclaimed fourth season. After that, as the cliche goes, the rest was history. Devo’s commercial peak occurred in 1980 when both their famous single “Whip It” and album Freedom of Choice both entered their charts’ Top 20, a peak that no other single nor album ever reached.

8.17 Devo - Recently
Devo during a ‘Something for Everyone’ publicity shoot

Today, Devo remains a pop cultural icon to the children of the ’80s. Unfortunately, their use of parody and satire in a pop/rock setting went by most of the population, so, much like “Weird” Al Yankovic, Devo is treated more as a curiosity than the innovative artist the band is. Perhaps, no band did more to influence the use of synthesizers, samplers and sequencers in the music industry than Devo did before those things became commonplace.

Devo is a national treasure and deserves much more critical respect than they have received. So, that is why I have chosen to say that Devo deserves induction into the RRHOF. With that said, here’s my proof: My 25 Favorite Devo Songs. Bathe in the power of Devo!

8.17 Devo - Smart Patrol

25. “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA” (Duty Now for the Future, 1979)

24. “Monsterman” (Theme Song from the Syfy TV series Monster Man, 2012)

23. “Theme from ‘Doctor Detroit'” (Doctor Detroit OST, 1983)

22. “Here to Go” (Shout, 1984)

21. “Don’t Shoot Me (I’m a Man)” (Something for Everyone, 2009)

8.17 Devo - Penetration

20. “Penetration in the Centerfold” (B-Side of “The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize,” 1979)

19. “Secret Agent Man” (Duty Now for the Future, 1979)

18. “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro! (Seamus Released)” (digital download, 2012). This anti-Mitt Romney song was released during the 2012 Presidential campaign. It is about the time Romney discussed a family vacation during which he put the family dog in a cage but tied it down on the car’s roof. Do you really think Devo could pass up such a story?

17. “What Do We Do” (Something for Everyone, 2009)

16. “Disco Shooter” (Total Devo, 1988)

8.17 Devo_Be_Stiff_Single

15. “Be Stiff” (single, 1977)

14. “The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize” (Duty Now for the Future, 1979)

13. “Peek-a-Boo” (Oh No! It’s Devo, 1982)

12. “Freedom of Choice” (Freedom of Choice, 1980)

11. “Mongoloid” (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! 1978)

8.17 DevoFlamingLips_GatesofSteelLive

10. “Gates of Steel” (Freedom of Choice, 1980)

9. “Girl U Want” (Freedom of Choice, 1980)

8. “Jerkin’ Back ‘n’ Forth” (Internationalists, 1981)

7. “Through Being Cool” (Internationalists, 1981)

6. “Beautiful World” (Internationalists, 1981)

5. “Jocko Homo” (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! 1978)

8.17 Devo - Working in a Coalmine

4. “Working in a Coalmine” (Heavy Metal OST, 1981)

3. “Whip It” (Freedom of Choice, 1980)

2. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! 1978)

8.17 Devo - Uncontrollable Urge

1. “Uncontrollable Urge” (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! 1978)

Go ahead and make a playlist out of this countdown. Then you will be able to hear all of their musical influences. You can hear where Nine Inch Nails, Soft Cell, Marilyn Manson, Ministry, Flaming Lips and so many other future artists got many of their ideas. Those idea lay in the visionary music of Devo! Long live Devo!

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

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