The title of today’s posting was a throwaway remark included in the information sheet pulled together for FAC 9 on 13 September 1979 (see yesterday’s blog post for more info).

By September 1979, Devo, from Cleveland, Ohio, had been together for six years, with their back catalogue consisting of a handful of singles (the first of which was released in 1977) and two studio albums.  Prior to releasing any music, they had found some underground fame (and become hip) for the fact that their music was released via films and videos rather than on vinyl, but this was really down to the fact that many in the industry regarded them as a joke band and no record deals were on offer.

I don’t know if Devo were ever hip once they became a conventional act, but a little over a year after FAC 9 had posed the question, they were bona fide chart stars in their home country:-

mp3 : Devo – Whip It

From wiki:-

“Whip It” debuted at number eighty-five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on August 30, 1980. It spent twenty-five weeks on the chart, peaked at number fourteen on November 15, 1980, and finished the year at number ninety-four on the Billboard Year-End singles chart for 1981. In the U.S., the song also reached number thirteen on the Cash Box Top 100, number eight on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, and number seventeen on the Record World Singles chart. “Whip It” found international success, peaking at number seventy-seven on the Australian Kent Music Report, number eleven on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart, number eleven on the Official New Zealand Music Chart, and number fifty-one on the UK Singles Chart.

Here’s the b-side to the hit 45:-

mp3 : Devo – Snowball

As it turned out, Devo, despite a recording career that encompassed 25 releases, never bothered the US or UK singles charts again.  Nor did any of their studio albums from the late 80s onwards sell in any great numbers, but they have continued to generate a lot of positive press and sell out decent sized venues whenever they tour.




As I’ve mentioned before, getting the old blog going what is now almost 10 years ago, resurrected an interest in vinyl just before it got hip and trendy. I picked up quite a few singles and albums on-line from folk selling off things for the sake of it rather than trying to make small fortunes and faithfully converted them into mp3 files for online use and for shoving onto the i-phone.

I was in the cupboard searching for something the other day when I found an old single by Devo from 1979 that I had obviously picked up, probably as part of a bigger package, but had somehow missed out when converting things. I loved the quirkiness of this 45 back in the day but it had been ages since I heard it:-

mp3 : Devo – The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprise

Listening now it and you hear just how much of an influence this lot were on David Byrne.

I’d never heard the b-side before. The title made me think it would be a bit dodgy and unlistenable. Turns out to be one of the most punk and loud things Devo ever did:-

mp3 : Devo – Penetration In The Centrefold




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