Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! is the debut studio album by the American new wave band Devo. It was originally released in August 1978 on the Warner Bros. label (Virgin Records in Europe). Produced by Brian Eno, the album was recorded between October 1977 and February 1978, primarily in Cologne, West Germany.
|Q: Are We Not Men?|
A: We Are Devo!
|Studio album by|
|Released||August 28, 1978|
|Recorded||October 1977, February 1978|
|Singles from Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!|
The album received somewhat mixed reviews from critics and peaked at No. 78 on the U.S. Billboard chart and No. 12 on the UK Albums Chart. Recent reviews of the album have been more uniformly positive and the album has charted on several retrospective "best of" lists from publications including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Spin.
On May 6, 2009, Devo performed the album live in its entirety for the first time as part of the Don't Look Back concert series curated by All Tomorrow's Parties. On September 16, 2009, Warner Bros. and Devo announced a re-release of Q: Are We Not Men? and Freedom of Choice, with a tour performing both albums.
Production and recordingEdit
In 1977, David Bowie and Iggy Pop received a tape of Devo demo songs from the wife of Michael Aylward, guitarist in another Akron, Ohio, band, Tin Huey. Both Pop and Bowie, as well as Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, expressed interest in producing Devo's first release. At Devo's New York debut show in 1977, Bowie proclaimed that "this is the band of the future, I'm going to produce them in Tokyo this winter."
The earliest material on the album includes "Come Back Jonee" and "Shrivel-Up", recorded at Different Fur, San Francisco, California in October 1977 with Patrick Gleeson acting as producer, which were mixed and overdubbed later. Eventually, Eno was chosen to produce the rest of the album at Conny Plank's studio located near Cologne, Germany. The band were flown to Germany in February of 1978. Bowie was busy with filming Just a Gigolo but helped Eno produce the record during weekends. Since Devo was without a record deal, Eno paid for the flights and studio cost for the band, confident that the band would be signed to a record contract. In return for his work on the album, Eno asked for a share of any subsequent deals.
Gerald Casale was not present for the first day of recording, as he had missed the flight. With their bassist missing, the group spent the first day playing with Eno, Bowie, Holger Czukay and Dieter Moebius.
The recording sessions were a source of frustration for Eno and Devo. Eno found the band unwilling to experiment or deviate from their early demonstrations of recorded songs. Devo later admitted that "we were overtly resistant to Eno's ideas. He made up synth parts and really cool sounds for almost every part of the album, but we used them on three or four songs." A majority of the tracks were later remixed by Bowie; excluding "Space Junk", and "Shrivel Up", which had Eno's production still intact.
Outtakes from the album include: "Be Stiff", released as a non album single that same year; "Social Fools", released as the B-side to "Come Back Jonee"; and "Penetration in the Centrefold", released as the B-side to "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize" in 1979.
Artwork and packagingEdit
The phrase "Are we not men?" is from The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), by H. G. Wells. It is part of the litany of the Law, spoken by the Speaker of the Law to the Beast Folk, creatures surgically force-evolved by the mad doctor.
The cover was illustrated by Joe Heiner. According to an essay by Devo co-founder and bass guitarist Gerald Casale included on the Complete Truth About De-evolution DVD, the cover of their debut album is based on an image of the famous professional golfer Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez that they had found on a golf strap. According to Casale, David Berman, Senior Vice President of business affairs at their record label, Warner Bros., decided that the image could not be used because "he was a golf fan and felt we were making fun of Chi Chi." The band offered to contact Rodriguez personally but had time constraints, due to the forthcoming production of their album. The manager of the company's art department, Rick Serini, recommended an artist who could airbrush and alter the face of the picture, while lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh offered a picture he'd procured from a local newspaper that morphed the faces of U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. These ideas were later morphed with the original "Chi Chi" Rodriguez image to create the cover art of the album.
The band did eventually get Rodriguez's permission to use the original photograph. Since the "morphed" album sleeves were already in production by that time, Serini claimed it would cost the band $2,500 to halt production and reinstate the image intended originally by the band, which forced the band to keep the morphed version. According to Casale, "we were able to come out with something that by the corporate interference and misunderstanding of the business side of Warner Bros. Records, actually unwittingly produced something far more Devo than the original [image]." The original cover illustration, with Rodriguez's face intact, turned up on the picture sleeve for the band's third single, "Be Stiff".
The European version has completely different artwork and, like the American version's inner sleeve, had photographs taken from the music video for "Jocko Homo". The front cover of the European version depicts a man wearing goggles, bow tie, and rubber gloves, while the back cover features heads with sunglasses under nylon stockings)..
A history of the design of the sleeve is presented in episode 328 of the podcast 99% Invisible, "Devolutionary Design", featuring interviews with members of the band, Chi-Chi Rodriguez and representatives of the record industry from the time.
Devo received offers to release Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! from Warner Bros., Island, Virgin and David Bowie's production company, Bewlay Brothers. Virgin obtained the rights to release the album in the United Kingdom, while Warner Bros. held the rights for North America. The album was originally planned for a Spring 1978 release, but had to be delayed due to legal disputes between Warner and Virgin. It was eventually released by Warner in the United States on August 28, 1978, and by Virgin in the United Kingdom on September 1, 1978. Virgin also released a picture disc version of the album, illustrated with a still from the band's 1976 short film The Truth About De-Evolution.
In North America, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! peaked at No. 78 on the Billboard charts, while in the United Kingdom it entered the charts on September 16, 1978, and remained there for seven weeks, peaking at No. 12. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was also successful in Japan. The album went "silver" in the United Kingdom on January 15, 1979 and "gold" in the United States on July 27, 2001 .
The album's opening track, "Uncontrollable Urge", has been used in several films and television shows, including The Wolf of Wall Street, Fun with Dick and Jane, Ridiculousness, and Jackass.[better source needed]
|The Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||9/10|
|The Village Voice||B+|
Initial critical reaction to Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was somewhat mixed. Tom Carson, writing in Rolling Stone, claimed that "There's not an ounce of feeling anywhere, and the only commitment is to the distancing aesthetic of the put-on", and opined that "Devo lacks most of Eno's warmth and much of Bowie's flair for mechanized melodrama. For all its idiosyncrasies, the music here is utterly impersonal." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice reacted with muted praise, highlighting Devo's "catchy, comical, herky-jerky rock and roll" while concluding: "In small doses it's as good as novelty music ever gets, and there isn't a really bad cut on this album. But it leads nowhere." Nonetheless, it was voted one of the best albums of the year in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics poll for 1978. In January 1980, Trouser Press also named it one of the best albums of 1978.
Later reception of the album has been more uniformly positive. Steve Huey of the online music database AllMusic termed it "arguably Devo's strongest set of material" and "a seminal touchstone in the development of American new wave." Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! has scored on several "best of" lists, including Spin's list of the "50 Most Essential Punk Records" and Pitchfork's list of the 100 best albums of the 1970s. It was ranked number 447 in Rolling Stone's 2003 list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, climbing to number 442 in the 2012 update and shooting up to number 252 in the 2020 reboot of the list. It is also listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
|1.||"Uncontrollable Urge"||Mark Mothersbaugh||3:09|
|2.||"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"||Mick Jagger, Keith Richards||2:40|
|3.||"Praying Hands"||Gerald Casale, M. Mothersbaugh||2:47|
|4.||"Space Junk"||G. Casale, Bob Mothersbaugh||2:14|
|6.||"Jocko Homo"||M. Mothersbaugh||3:40|
|7.||"Too Much Paranoias"||M. Mothersbaugh||1:57|
|8.||"Gut Feeling" / "(Slap Your Mammy)"||M. Mothersbaugh, B. Mothersbaugh / G. Casale||4:54|
|9.||"Come Back Jonee"||G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh||3:47|
|10.||"Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin')"||M. Mothersbaugh, B. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale, Gary Jackett||2:40|
|11.||"Shrivel-Up"||G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, B. Mothersbaugh||3:05|
On the European version, the second song appears as "Satisfaction (I Can't Get Me No)".
- Additional tracks
|Bonus tracks on CD releases|
"Social Fools" was previously released as the B-side of the "Come Back Jonee" single. This version is a different version from the one on the B Stiff EP (still unavailable in digital format) and Hardcore Devo: Volume One. This edition also includes the Eno-produced session outtake "Penetration in the Centrefold" (later released as the B-side of "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize") as well as "Soo Bawlz" (the B-side of "Secret Agent Man"). Additionally, on this edition, "Slap Your Mammy" is separated onto its own track (track 9).
This box set also featured a remastered version of Devo's third album, Freedom of Choice, paired with the DEV-O Live EP and demo versions of "Snowball," "Gates of Steel," and "Time Bomb". The package also contained a DVD of music videos and another DVD of the entire HMV Forum Are We Not Men? concert.
- Mark Mothersbaugh – lead and background vocals, keyboards, guitar
- Gerald Casale – lead and background vocals, bass guitar, keyboards
- Bob Mothersbaugh – lead guitar, backing vocals
- Bob Casale – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Alan Myers – drums
- Brian Eno – producer, additional synthesizers on "Space Junk" and "Shrivel Up", distorted vocals on "Space Junk"
- David Bowie – additional co-production
- Conny Plank – engineer
- Dave Hutchins – engineer
- Patrick Gleeson – engineer
- Devo Inc. – graphic concept and execution
- John Cabalka – graphic supervision
- Erik Munsön – package production design
- Bobbi Watson – photography
To support the album, Devo undertook a lengthy world tour, lasting from October 1978 to June 1979. The look of the tour was largely based around the live act they'd been developing throughout the previous year, with the only differences being the increased budget allowing for higher quality costumes and a basic set, and a focus on the album's material, whilst teasing then unreleased songs for the next album.
The show would open with the band's 1976 short film The Truth About De-Evolution, followed by their 1978 promo videos for "Satisfaction" and "Come Back Jonee". When the band arrived on stage, they performed two songs that were not on the album supporting the tour. Then Mark Mothersbaugh would get a modified electric guitar, which would only be used for the songs "Satisfaction" and "Too Much Paranoias."
As the show would continue, the group's signature yellow suits would be gradually torn, until "Jocko Homo," where Devo would strip down to black shorts and T shirts with knee and shoulder pads. During the intro to "Smart Patrol", the group donned orange helmets, which were shaken off during the next song, "Mr. DNA." The show was ultimately concluded with lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh becoming Booji Boy and singing two songs: "Red Eye" and "The Words Get Stuck in My Throat."
|First Leg (1978–1979)|
|October 9, 1978||Starwood, West Hollywood, CA||Opening act: The Visitors|
|October 10, 1978||This show was shot for their The Men Who Make the Music film|
|October 14, 1978||Saturday Night Live, New York, NY||Television appearance, performing "Satisfaction" and "Jocko Homo", the album's two lead singles|
|October 17, 1978||The Bottom Line, New York, NY||Sold out shows|
|October 17, 1978|
|October 20, 1978||Showplace, Dover, NJ||Opening act: The Two Timers|
|October 21, 1978||Gaston Hall, Georgetown University, Washington, DC||Opening act: Razz|
|October 22, 1978||The Paradise, Boston, MA|
|October 24, 1978||El Casino, Metro Place des Arts, Montréal, QC, Canada|
|October 25, 1978||El Mocambo, Toronto, ON, Canada||Show broadcast live on FM radio
|October 27, 1978||Punch and Judy Theatre, Grosse Pointe, MI||Two shows each on these dates|
|October 28, 1978|
|October 29, 1978||Bogart's, Cincinnati, OH|
|October 30, 1978||Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, OH||Pre-Halloween concert, opening for Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band|
|October 31, 1978||Akron Civic Theatre, Akron, OH||Halloween concert|
|November 1, 1978||B'ginnings, Schaumburg, IL|
|November 3, 1978||Walker Art Center Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN||Broadcast on radio; an excerpt from this show is heard on Recombo DNA|
|November 6, 1978||Dooley's, Tempe, AZ|
|November 8, 1978||Coffee House, University of California, Davis, CA||Two shows, at 8:00 and 10:30 p.m.|
|November 10, 1978||Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA||This sold out show was broadcast live on FM radio|
|November 11, 1978|
|November 15, 1978||Kant Kino, Berlin, Germany||The group's first show in Germany|
|November 16, 1978||Volksbildungsheim, Frankfurt, Germany|
|November 17, 1978||Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany|
|November 19, 1978||Theatre Le Palace, Paris, France||The group's first show in France|
|November 21, 1978||Congresgebouw, The Hague, The Netherlands||The group's first show in the Netherlands|
|November 21, 1978||Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium||The group's first show in Belgium|
|November 26, 1978||Odeon Theatre, Edinburgh, United Kingdom||Opening act: Doll by Doll|
|November 27, 1978||Glasgow Apollo, Glasgow, United Kingdom|
|November 29, 1978||Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, United Kingdom|
|November 30, 1978||Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom||According to attendees, this show may have been rescheduled to December 13|
|December 1, 1978||Odeon Theatre, Birmingham, United Kingdom|
|December 2, 1978||Hammersmith Odeon, London, United Kingdom||Opening act: Doll by Doll|
|December 3, 1978|
|December 4, 1978||Free Trade Hall, Manchester, United Kingdom|
|December 5, 1978||Old Grey Whistle Test, London, United Kingdom||TV appearance filmed but never broadcast; the group performed "Satisfaction"|
|December 6, 1978||Empire Theatre, Liverpool, United Kingdom||Opening act: Doll by Doll|
|December 7, 1978||Colston Hall, Bristol, United Kingdom|
|December 9, 1978||Chorus, Paris, France||Full concert filmed and broadcast on France 2 program Chorus|
|December 17, 1978||Music Hall, Detroit, MI||Attendees claim this show was at the Music Hall, but newspaper listings claim it was at the Masonic Auditorium|
|December 27, 1978||Agora Ballroom, Atlanta, GA|
|December 29, 1978||Painters Mill Music Fair, Owings Mills, MD|
|December 30, 1978||Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA|
|December 31, 1978||Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY||New Year's Eve show; concert started at 12:15 a.m.|
|January 3, 1979||Mary Seaton Room, Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, NY|||
|January 4, 1979||Akron Civic Theatre, Akron, OH|
|January 5, 1979||Music Hall, Detroit, MI|
|January 6, 1979||Park West, Chicago, IL|
|January 10, 1979||Paramount Theatre, Portland, OR|
|January 11, 1979||Paramount Northwest Theatre, Seattle, WA|
|January 12, 1979||Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC, Canada|
|Second Leg (1979)|
|May 22, 1979||Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan||The group's first show in Japan|
|May 23, 1979||Shi Kokaido Hall, Nagoya, Japan|
|May 28, 1979||Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan||This show was filmed and broadcast for Japanese television|
|June 1, 1979||Campus Center Ballroom, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI||This show was cancelled|
|June 2, 1979||Last date of the tour; two shows were performed|
- "Wiggly World"
- "Secret Agent Man" (only performed on second leg)
- "Pink Pussycat"
- "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
- "Too Much Paranoias"
- "Praying Hands"
- "Uncontrollable Urge"
- "Jocko Homo"
- "Smart Patrol"
- "Mr. DNA"
- "Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin')"
- "Come Back Jonee"
- "Gut Feeling"
- "Slap Your Mammy"
- "Devo Corporate Anthem"
- "Red Eye Express"
- "The Words Get Stuck in My Throat"
The following songs were also played during the tour, but only as one-offs:
|Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart||57|
|UK Albums Chart||12|
|US Billboard 200||78|
|RIAA – U.S.||Gold||July 27, 2007|
The song "Uncontrollable Urge" has been covered by numerous bands, among them SNFU for the tribute compilation We Are Not Devo.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2015)
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