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

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

Warner Bros., 1978, new wave

B, 1966: These guys must have really confused and shocked in 1978, even if you had somehow managed to have already heard Kraftwerk or Talking Heads. I think in some ways their approach – or call it schtick if you like – has gotten in the way of people really hearing them, because this is a really good record from great musicians. It still sounds fresh, and no doubt they had a huge impact. Lots of great tracks here, but I am going to pick the cover “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. A brilliant take on a great song. “Mongoloid” or “Jocko Homo” easily deserve it too.

C, 2002: Good ol’ devo. Love this record. Fun times. My favorites are the classic “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction” and also “Space Junk”.

H, 1951: In many ways this album, made just a year later, is diametrically opposed to #443. Whereas the intent of the Cheap Trick album was simply to use established pop/rock conventions to make some new songs about nothing in particular and sell a bunch of albums and make some money, this album was made by a group of collegiate art students specifically to protest the devolution of human society, after some band members had observed this regression first-hand when members of the National Guard gunned down four students protesting the Viet Nam War at Kent State University (the same event chronicled in the CSN&Y song “Ohio”.) Borrowing some approaches from the Dada art movement, as well as some inspiration from Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, the songs here were designed to go against the grain, to prevent listeners from becoming comfortable, to make them question societal norms, rather than happily accepting them. At the same time, though, it’s rock music, and it’s very listenable. A brilliant album, and one that definitely deserves to be on this list.

Published 15 Dec 2019