Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
I wonder if this difference was limited to the UK or do similar versions occur worldwide. I think we should be told. I also think we should be told why. I never understood why record companies marketed different version of the cover (and sometimes different track listings) of albums on different sides of the Atlantic. It is almost as if they don't rate the intellect, or the aesthetic ability of one side or other and need to make it simple. Whatever the reason, it is something I find quite annoying.
When this came album out in the UK it was hailed as being the future of new wave music. Mind you, that was the New Musical Express saying that and that rag was always looking for a bandwagon to climb aboard. As a result I was never really sure of all the hype. Despite the fact that the biggest trumpet being blown on its behalf was wedged in the mouth of the New Musical Express, the album gained a wider than expected following. But like so many other bands who rode the back of the NME's periodic infatuations, those infatuations ultimately proved wide of the mark.
Devo's theme (and the source of their name) was de-evolution. The idea was that we, as humans, are getting simpler, going backwards. It is a kind of musical version of the cult film Idiocracy in some ways. The music is simplified and jerky; the vocals can best be described as quirky and the themes of the songs sometimes verging on the stupid.
(Doesn't Mark Mothersbaugh who wrote the songs for this now do the incidental music for the Rugrats? You know, Charles Martel, I do believe he does. Thank you, Charles Martel, I always knew you were a mine of utterly useless information.)
So what of the album then? Well, it is quirky, odd, zany, funny in places. "Gut Feeling" and "Mongoloid" are the highlights in my view, but that is just an impression. You see, I played this recently having not played it for a long time and it sounded so irritating. I couldn't believe I used to play it so much. I can take this in small doses but no more.
It now sounds that, instead of heralding a new direction for the future of music, Devo were simply out to have a laugh and make a few bucks - in other words no different to any other rock band on the face of the planet. So much for idealism, an idealism which sometimes seem to be nothing more than an opportunity to wear silly hats and act too clever by half.
The future of new wave? No. The de-evolution of punk? No. A Darwinian dead end from the angry young men of 1977 to the great post punks of the early- and mid-eighties? That's got it in a nutshell.
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