Monday, May 18, 8950

Mark Mothersbaugh (b. 1950) - Devo

Mark Allen Mothersbaugh (b. May 18, 1950) is an American musician, composer, singer and painter. He is the co-founder of the new wave band Devo and has been its lead singer since 1972. His other musical projects include work for television series, films, and video games.


Devo is an American band formed in Akron, Ohio in 1973. The band had a #14 Billboard chart hit in 1980 with the single Whip It, and has maintained a cult following throughout its existence. Their style over time has shifted between punk, art rock, post-punk, and New Wave. Their music and stage show mingle kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor, and mordantly satirical social commentary. Their often discordant pop songs feature unusual synthetic instrumentation and time signatures that have proven influential on subsequent popular music, particularly New Wave, industrial and alternative rock artists. Devo was also a pioneer of the music video, creating many memorable clips for the Laser Disc format, with "Whip It" getting heavy airplay in the early days of MTV.


Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! is the debut album by the American new wave band Devo. Produced by Brian Eno, it was primarily recorded in Cologne, Germany and released in the U.S. on Warner Bros. Records in 1978.

The album received somewhat mixed reviews from critics and peaked at number 12 on the U.K. album charts and number 78 on the U.S. Billboard charts. Recent reviews of the album have been more uniformly positive, with the album charting on several retrospective "best of" lists from publications including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork Media 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 16th, 2009, Warner Brothers and Devo announced a re-release of Q: Are We Not Men? and Freedom of Choice, with a tour performing both albums.

There was some initial jockeying for the job of producing Devo's first album. In 1977, David Bowie and Iggy Pop received a tape of Devo demos from the wife of Michael Aylward, guitarist in another Akron band, Tin Huey.

Both Iggy 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."

Eventually, Eno was chosen to produce the album at Konrad Plank's studio located near Cologne, Germany.

Bowie was busy with filming on Just a Gigolo but helped Eno produce the record on weekends.

Two tracks, "Come Back Jonee" and "Shrivel-Up", were recorded at Different Fur in San Francisco. All tracks were mixed at Conny's Studio. 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.

The recording sessions were a source of frustration for Eno and Devo. Eno found the group unwilling to experiment or deviate from their early demos 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."

Devo received offers to release Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! from Warner Bros. Records, Island Records, Virgin Records and David Bowie's production company Bewlay Brothers.

Virgin obtained rights to release the album in the United Kingdom, while Warner Bros. held the rights for North America.

The album was released in the United States in August 1978 and 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 1974 music film The Truth About De-Evolution.

Initial critical reaction to Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was somewhat mixed. Tom Carson, writing Rolling Stone, claimed that "There's not an ounce of feeling anywhere, and the only commitment is to the distancing aesthetic of the puton", 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."

Critic Robert Christgau gave the album a positive rating of a B+, but noted, "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 highly influential 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 gave the album four and a half stars calling it "arguably Devo's strongest set of material, though several brilliant peaks can overshadow the remainder", and "a seminal touchstone in the development of American new wave."

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! has been placed on several "best of" lists, including Spin's 50 Most Essential Punk Records and Pitchfork Media's top 100 albums of 1970's

Side One

No. Title Length

1. "Uncontrollable Urge" (Mark Mothersbaugh) 3:09

2. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) 2:40
3. "Praying Hands" (Gerald V. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh) 2:47
4. "Space Junk" (G.V. Casale, B. Mothersbaugh) 2:14

5. "Mongoloid" (G.V. Casale) 3:44
6. "Jocko Homo" (M. Mothersbaugh) 3:40

Side Two

No. Title Length
1. "Too Much Paranoias" (M. Mothersbaugh) 1:57
2. "Gut Feeling" / "(Slap Your Mammy)" (M. Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh)/(G.V. Casale) 4:54
3. "Come Back Jonee" (G.V. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh) 3:47
4. "Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin')" (M. Mothersbaugh, B. Mothersbaugh, G.V. Casale, Gary Jackett) 2:40
5. "Shrivel Up" (G.V. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, B. Mothersbaugh) 3:05

[8951 Bunnell / 8950 Mothersbaugh / 8950 Wonder]