[Review] Devo: Shout (1984)

With Devo now a caricature of themselves, de-evolution was complete.

Kronomyth 6.0: Remember, if you care, when it all came down.

Oh, no! It’s even lamer than their last album. Maybe it’s all part of the Devo gameplan: strike a revolutionary pose in the beginning, shrink from it in the end. If that’s the case, Shout shows admirable shrinkage, flailing for show with a limp noodle against the towers of traditional rock in a tame retelling of Jimi Hendrix’ “Are You Experienced?” and seeming all too satisfied with itself.

For those who might have missed them the first time, Devo were the original killer clowns from outer space, threatening to overthrow the status quo with dangerous dogma like “Jocko Homo” and (more recently) “Through Being Cool.” That seems a long way removed from the domesticated musings of “C’mon” and “Please Please.” Even the better tracks—“The 4th Dimension,” “Jurisdiction of Love,” “Here to Go”—just don’t get my dander up the way a good Devo song should.

I noticed the decline with “Peek-A-Boo!,” a song that should have been terrifying (the video was) but instead seemed like an empty threat. “Shout,” “The Satisfied Mind” and “Puppet Boy” are even emptier. They still make fun of the human condition, but sarcasm is no substitute for social change. At least this sort of predictable decline makes purchasing Devo albums an easy process: start at the beginning and, if you make it this far, you’re a Devo fan (or a fool).

Tellingly, the band disappeared for a few years, resurfacing on a minor label and no longer on the big commercial radar screen. It’s worth noting, however, that my dissatisfaction is relative to the band’s original groundbreaking work. If you’re the sort of listener who soaked up The B-52’s nonsense just for the fun of it, then there’s fun to be had on Shout as well. But you didn’t hear it from me.

Original elpee version

A1. Shout (3:15)
A2. The Satisfied Mind (3:06)
A3. Don’t Rescue Me (Mark Mothersbaugh) (3:04)
A4. The 4th Dimension (4:26)
A5. C’mon (3:16)
B1. Here to Go (3:15)
B2. Jurisdiction of Love (Mark Mothersbaugh) (2:58)
B3. Puppet Love (3:08)
B4. Please Please (3:00)
B5. Are You Experienced? (Jimi Hendrix) (3:08)

All songs written by Mark Mothersbaugh/Gerald V. Casale unless noted.

CD reissue bonus tracks
11. Growing Pains
12. Shout (E-Z Listening Muzak Version 1)

Saudi Arabian Expanded Cassette Version
A1. Shout
A2. The Satisfied Mind
A3. Don’t Rescue Me
A4. The 4th Dimension
A5. C’mon
A6. Out of Sync
A7. Big Mess
A8. What I Must Do?
A9. I Desire
B1. Clockout
B2. Timing
B3. Secret Agent Man
B4. Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA
B5. Jurisdiction of Love
B6. Puppet Boy
B7. Please Please
B8. Are You Experienced?
B9. Here to Go

The Players

Gerald Casale, Robert Casale, Bob Mothersbaugh, Mark Mothersbaugh, Alan Myers with Will Alexander (programming consultation), Al Horvath and Bill Wolfer (additional Emulator programs). Produced by DEVO; engineered by Robert Casale; mixed by Mike Shipley; technical assistance by Jim Mothersbaugh.

The Pictures

Graphic concept by DEVO. Art direction by Vigon Seireeni. Photography by Karen Filter. Computer graphics by Effective Graphics. Cover kids: Zachary Chase (boy), Alex Mothersbaugh (girl). DEVO’s Chinese-American friendship suits by Clacton and Frinton.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on October 9, 1984 in the US (Warner Bros., 25097-1/4), the UK and Germany (Warner Bros., 925 097 1/4), Argentina (WEA, 83834), Brazil (Warner Bros., 36202), Canada (Warner Bros., 92 50971), Japan (Warner Bros., P-13030) and Mexico (Warner Bros., LWB 6311) with innersleeve. Reached #83 on the US charts.

  1. Re-packaged on expanded cassette in Saudi Arabia (747 New Wave, 9564) with 8 bonus tracks.
  2. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 1996 in the US (Infinite Zero, 43094-2) with 2 bonus tracks.

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