Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! ©1978 Virgin
1. Uncontrollable Urge
2. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
3. Praying Hands
4. Space Junk
5. Mongoloid
6. Jocko Homo
7. Too Much Paranoias
8. Gut Feeling
9. (Slap Your Mammy)
10. Come Back Jonee
11. Sloppy
12. Shrivel Up

While American New Wave had a tendency towards herky-jerkiness and an overall nervous sound, no one would take it quite as far as Devo did on their debut album. Let's put it this way: Devo covered Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" and turned it into some sort of tiny, jittery robot anthem. It's as if they sterilized the song and removed everything "rock" about it, including the famous guitar riff. In the process they also turned it into a fairly good song. While most other popular bands wanted to make you comfortable and let you rock out, Devo's stripped down music seemed constructed to make you more tense. Yet despite this, they managed to steer clear of the ever-near pitfalls of sounding too calculated and boring.

Devo are often remembered as that novelty band who had a hit with "Whip It", but on their debut they were quite a bit more exciting, not yet having seeped over to the disco side of things. What we get is twelve truly geeky rock songs, and not in that Weezer way, either. Devo's music consists of angular melodies, some odd time signatures, synthesizers, and a certain aversion towards making their rock, well.. rock. Yet in the middle of all this we get short, catchy, finely crafted songs, including the catchy 7/8 single "Jocko Homo", where the band presents their de-evolution concept. Not all the songs are quite up to this quality, but overall this is a very strong album. The moody closing number "Shrivel Up" is a personal favorite, a song building from a tuned water drops arpeggio! Hooray for synthesizers!

Brian Eno's production is very dry and clean, befitting the mechanical nature of the music. Unfortunately, Devo wouldn't go on to make much else of note, as their later more synth and dance oriented songs just weren't as strong as the material presented here.

Don't let that make you miss out on this though, as Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo is a very good album, particularly for rock fans with a taste for the slightly off-kilter.

Review by Řystein H-O

Review date: 12/2002

Back to top