[Review] Devo: Oh, No! It’s Devo (1982)

You say poh-tay-to and I say pooh-tit-bac.

Kronomyth 5.0: The spud’ring sounds of machines.

It was only a matter of time before the folks who found “Whip It” funny realized that the joke was on them. Oh, No! It’s Devo lacked a “Whip It” or “Working in a Coalmine” to warm up to, instead lobbing the destructive “Peek-A-Boo!” in listeners’ midst. (The video was even scarier.) What to make out of a “Time Out For Fun” or “Speed Racer?” Was Devo making fun of us? Well, sheesh, yeah.

Being in a crankier disposition than usual and lacking any of the emotional or sexual tension that fueled their earlier work (“Going Under,” “Jerkin’ Back ‘N’ Forth”), Oh, No! It’s Devo comes off a little sterile. The ideas are still good, their attack on culture unmitigated, but musically speaking the whole thing’s a mechanical bore. If you can hum songs like “Deep Sleep,” “Patterns” or “I Desire,” my inverted flower pot hat’s off to ya.

Depending on my mood, I tend to see this as the end of the goodness or the beginning of the badness. Good because they’re still fighting the good fight, bad because they were turning into the robots they warned us about. No such dilemma on New Traditionalists (great) or Shout (gawdawful), which is why I keep returning to Oh, No! It’s Devo waiting for the pendulum to swing decisively. It never does. Lacking a standout single (“Peek-A-Boo!” and “That’s Good” failed to chart), it’s up to album cuts like “Speed Racer,” “Big Mess” and “Time Out For Fun” to win over listeners.

Like Sparks, Devo may have been a victim of their own success, but the Spuds hardly roll over here (Shout’s a different story). Oh, No! is a last ride, a final poke in the eye, but most of all it’s Devo. (Note: the elpee featured a cutout in the back cover that enabled owners to turn the album into a picture stand, if they so desired.)

Original LP Version

A1. Time Out For Fun (2:48)
A2. Peek-A-Boo! (3:01)
A3. Out of Sync (3:34)
A4. Explosions (3:01)
A5. That’s Good (3:23)
B1. Patterns (2:57)
B2. Big Mess (2:42)
B3. Speed Racer (Mark Mothersbaugh) (2:38)
B4. What I Must Do (2:34)
B5. I Desire (Mark Mothersbaugh/Gerald Casale/John Hinckley Jr.) (3:13)
B6. Deep Sleep (3:24)

All songs written by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale unless noted.

The Players

Bob Casale (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Gerald Casale (lead and background vocals, bass guitar, keyboards), Bob Mothersbaugh (guitar, backing vocals), Mark Mothersbaugh (lead and background vocals, keyboards), Alan Myers (drums) with Annerose Bucklers (background vocals on B6). Produced by Roy Thomas Baker; engineered by Gordon Fordyce.

The Pictures

Cover photography by Erik Arnesen. Graphic concept by DEVO INC. Art direction by Rick Seireeni. Spudring manufactured by Brent Scrivner.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on October 21, 1982 in the US (Warner Bros., 23741), Germany (Virgin, 205.135.320), Japan (Warner Bros., P-11273), Mexico (Warner Bros., LWB-6148) and Singapore (UFO, UFO 4695) with diecut cover and picture innersleeve. Reached #47 on the US charts.

  1. Re-released with Freedom of Choice on 2-for-1 compact disc on May 20, 1993 in the US (Virgin, CDV 2241) and in 1993 in Europe (Virgin, 786 997).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 2005 in the US (Collectables, COL-CD-6552).

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