DEVO Hardcore Volume One

DEVO – Hardcore Volume One (Rykodisk) 1990. So it was inevitable that I would eventually post some DEVO. They were a weird Midwestern band who wrote some great songs. Over the years DEVO have gotten dissed more than any other band I can think of. Which is kinda strange…

DEVO were the first “new wave” band I got into. I saw Beautiful World on Night Flight when I was twelve and I loved it. I was enough of a teenager to dig the sarcasm inherent in stating “it’s a beautiful world” while showing images of war, fashion shoots and other bullshit. I was still enough of a kid to think that Booji Boy was funny. Perfect timing. I saved up my allowance and bought the only DEVO record I could find which was 1978′s “Are We Not Men We Are DEVO”….the picture disc no less.

Now, it’s a pretty big leap from Beautiful World to Shrivel Up but I had DEVOlved and was definitely a fan. Then I started meeting other new wave/punk fans and the snide comments began…

Oh, you like DEVO?

They’re poseurs…

I’d like to say I stood up for my favourite band. The band that started it all for me. But alas, I was an insecure 13 year old and I, like everyone else, turned on DEVO. I went out and bought “serious” stuff by The Clash and The Talking Heads. I hated poseurs too!

Aw shucks…its Joe’s first rekkid!

I think the poseur comments came from the fact that DEVO had scored a big hit with Whip It. Much like Mexican Radio though, Whip It was some pretty subversive stuff for popular audiences. Again I ask, do you think mass audiences could handle something like Whip It or Mexican Radio today?

Regardless, at that time it was very important not to sell out and by courting popular opinion DEVO made the crucial error. Saying you liked DEVO in 1982 was basically like telling everyone you were an idiot…so I kept my DEVO fandom in the closet throughout my adolescence. Especially when I was trying real hard to be punk-n-all.

Sometime during the 1990′s, the spin on DEVO changed and they began to get viewed as a seminal new wave post-punk band….which is what they were/are. Part of this newfound cred came about due to the releases of Hardcore 1 and 2 on Rykodisk. Another part of it came about due to the popularity of grunt rock and its predecessor, grunge.

See, one of the engines behind DEVO-hatred in the 1980′s was this need for some sort of perceived authenticity. The 1980′s were an incredibly fake time full of lots of feel-good nostalgic bullshit. In the 1980′s it became really important to fans of independent music not to be perceived as fake but to be real.

As the era waned we got what we asked for and more. There was “authenticity” in spades with all of those flannel dudes. This DEVOlved into the mid 1990′s grunt rock and y’all-ternative phenomenons which effectively killed popular rock-n-roll music.

Don’t kid yourself. We live in the post-rock era now.

So at some point around 1991 some of us were getting real tired of the same old grungy “authentic” shit and started looking back in our record collections at bands that were more eccentric and offbeat. Ryko releases 2 CD’s of early and unreleased DEVO tracks coincidentally at this exact moment and BAM! DEVO is OK to like again.

Listening to these DEVO tracks now, I can say with hindsight that they are not as great as I had perceived them to be in 1991. There was always this “Revenge of the Nerds” vibe with DEVO and it is most perceptible on these early tracks (Soo Bawls, Buttered Beauties and Ono come to mind). In hindsight, I believe “Are We Not Men” is the DEVO high-water mark.

But some of the tracks on here are amazingly cool and should not be missed by any self-respecting post-punk fan (Midget, Auto Mowdown and Uglatto come to mind). This has been out of print for a long time and is fetchin’ high prices on Amazon. Also check out the DEVO official site. It’s great!

This entry was posted in Art-Punk, Midwest, New Wave, Synth, post-punk. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to DEVO Hardcore Volume One

  1. Anonymous says:

    is it me, or do the links not work??

  2. Joe Stumble says:

    its not you…I fixed them

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good post. Fortunately, I was lucky to get a copy of this CD before it went OOP and the price went throught the ceiling. Do you happen to have DEVO Hardcore Volume 2? Hopefully, they decide to reissue this one sometime.

  4. ib says:

    Liking this post very much, joe – we must be the same age ; i remember buying the 7″ of jocko homo/mongoloid on Stiff Records in 1977, i think, and keeping it secreted under a vinyl stack of ATV and Clash singles. I preferred the brooding anti-pc thumbing of mongoloid at the time to the flip side, but i detested the Tubes-esque theatrics of the group, even though it was patently obvious they were more intent on aping (devolving into ?) the Residents.

    I have Hardcore Vol. 1 on vinyl, a gift from a friend aware of my past fondness for Devo, but since i have no means of playing vinyl these days i’m digging this post immensely.

  5. Peter - KBD Records says:

    Devo is one the best punk rock bands ever along with the likes of Punishment Of Luxury. I’ve never called them post punk. For me they where one of the most challenging groups around. Got hooked after seeing the video of Come Back Jonny in 1978 at a store in Stockholm. Great post! Oh yeah I have that yellow Devo suit from the 70s that I bought from a radio DJ in the US who got in a promo pack along with A: We’re Not Men. Swell dress for every night out.

  6. Will says:

    Well said, great post.

  7. chica says:

    great article. lifelong devo fan since high school too – though of the vintage to await the new release of freedom of choice in 1980 and see it through the lense of a 16 year old suburban robot.

    they’re back on the road, gigging, new album scheduled for early 2010, old remasters being issued and have a vibrant hardcore fan base to boot. it all culiminates in ohio every year with an annual ‘devotional’. check out for their latest news.

    good call on the d-evolution of ‘real’ music in the 1980′s – how ironic that those slacker icons nirvana covered a devo B-side and david grohl had gerry casale from devo direct his first foo-fighters clip.

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