Devo formed as far back as 1972 consisting of members from Kent and Akron, Ohio. The classic line-up of the band includes two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs (Mark and Bob) and the Casales (Gerald and Bob), along with Alan Myers. They came to notice in the new wave/post-punk era where their strange vocal delivery and heavy reliance on keyboards didn’t sound so unusual anymore; they were also helped by the fact that Brian Eno was a very early champion of their work.
Despite this, critics were often scathing of Devo and didn’t take seriously. The fact that they were among the early pioneers of the use of videos and relied on costumes while playing live led to all sorts of accusations of being non-authentic.
Slowly but surely though, the band gained a following and in the early 80s even enjoyed some mainstream success with Whip It hitting the Billboard Top 40 in 1980. The next ten years were somewhat mixed with the band seemingly wanting to turn their backs on the commercial material in the hope of being taken much more seriously and attracting the highbrow press they felt their body of work deserved in an era when electronic music was all the rage. Inevitably they fell between two stools – the records sold poorly (leading to them being dropped by their label) and the critics mostly refused to still see them as an art-school joke that had long run its course.
In 1991, after eight LPs, Devo effectively broke up for a period of six years. The reformed band however weren’t prolific with new material aside from the occasional contribution to film soundtracks but they toured extensively and played before large audiences, especially in the USA. It wasn’t until 2010 that the ninth LP was released, but like so much of their material throughout their entire career, it came out to a mixed reception – some loved it, many hated it but most were indifferent.
I wasn’t actually sure whether or not to include Devo in this short series as it has been more than 30 years since I bought any of their music. But I can’t deny that they were among the first electronic groups that I listened to and so they will always have a place in my heart. I thought I’d just shove up four tracks that were made available on an EP released in the UK on Virgin Records back in 1983…which was the last thing of theirs I bought (bar a couple of second-hand 7″ singles in recent years to replace those lost a long time ago):-
mp3 : Devo – Come Back Jonee
mp3 : Devo – Working In A Coalmine
mp3 : Devo – Satisfaction
mp3 : Devo – Jocko Homo