Devo: “That’s Good” (1982)

The fickle finger of single selection pointed next to this song from Oh, No! It’s Devo.

Kronomyth 5.2: In the time of oral grave grave legalities of hate.

“Music is good, not evil. Poetry is good, not evil. Primitive, but oh, so true.” – Dmitri Shostakovich

A pervading sense of powerlessness informs Oh, No! It’s Devo. You hear that on songs like “Speed Racer,” where dangerous stereotypes are already impressed upon children, or What I Must Do, where autonomy is replaced by automatons. Even the music felt powerless, as machines drained the blood and emotion from their muse.

That’s Good, the second single from Devo’s fifth album, tackles the problem of how each society defines and reinforces its own concept of good. At least that’s always been my takeaway. Echoing “Freedom of Choice,” the audience seems to have no power (or preference) over whether it accepts or rejects this definition; learning to do with and without good things are both proposed with equal force. It’s a deep theme (Devo songs often are), deceptively performed with mechanical ennui, but these are life-and-death matters.

The song was edited slightly for the 7-inch single and expanded for the 12-inch single. The 12-inch “extended” version is simply more of the same; no radical remixing takes place. A 12-inch picture disc single (available in two different picture versions) features an extended version of “Speed Racer” (or another lap around the track).

Original 7-inch single version

A1. That’s Good (edit) (Mark Mothersbaugh/Gerald Casale) (2:59)
B1. What I Must Do (Mark Mothersbaugh/Gerald Casale) (2:34)

12-inch single version
A1. That’s Good (Mark Mothersbaugh/Gerald Casale) (5:06)
B1. Speed Racer (extended version) (Mark Mothersbaugh) (3:42)
B2. Big Mess (Mark Mothersbaugh/Gerald Casale) (2:42)

12-inch single picture disc version
A1. That’s Good (Mark Mothersbaugh/Gerald Casale) (3:23)
B1. Speed Racer (long edit) (Mark Mothersbaugh) (3:42)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on November 24, 1982 in the US (Warner Bros, 7-29811). Also released as promotional 7-inch single (with same track on both sides) in January 1983 in the US (Warner Bros., 7-29811) and Canada (Warner Bros., 92 98117), as three-track promotional 12-inch single in 1982 in the US (Warner Bros, PRO-A-1099) and as two-track promotional 12-inch picture disc in 1983 in the US (Warner Bros., PRO-A-2006) with picture variations.

That's Good 12" picture disc
12-inch picture disc

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