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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Devo

Greatest Hits

Review by Gary Hill

We are Devo – D – E – V – O. For my money Devo were one of the most original outfits ever to hit the music scene. Sure, they softened their sound and made it more commercial as they went on, but listen to the first couple albums and tell me you ever heard anything like that before. Well, this collection showcases their biggest hits. It also shows that even when they were more pop oriented, they were still cool – despite being “Through Being Cool.”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Here To Go (Go Mix Version)
This opens percussively with a definite remix sound built into it. When the vocal joins, it has that same remix thing going. This is rhythmic and rather fun, but perhaps feels more like Art of Noise than like Devo. The more rock based stuff is perhaps more in line with what I associate as Devo. When the main vocals join I'm actually almost reminded of something like Depeche Mode. I suppose in some ways, this is exactly what you'd expect from a remix of Devo, but personally, I like their normal sound better than this. I do like the stereo effects on this.
Through Being Cool
More typical Devo, this has some electronica in its midst, too. It’s got a great rubbery rhythmic section.
Big Mess
Merge Kraftwerk like keyboards with a typical Devo sort of jam and you’ve got a good idea of what this sounds like.
That's Good
I like the keyboard presence here and the bouncy jam that surrounds it is especially tasty. This is one of the highlights of the set in my book.
Jerkin' Back 'N' Forth
There’s an especially tasty keyboard solo on this. Beyond that the track has a nice “jerky” feeling to it. 
Peek-A-Boo
This has an almost creepy feeling to it. It’s more typical of the sound I think of when I hear the name Devo. It’s also a great song.
Beautiful World
Bouncy and quirky, this is a fun track that’s trademark Devo.
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
This cover of the Rolling Stones song is both brilliant and a Devo classic. It’s got a lot of elements of the original and yet is delivered in a style that is all Devo. It is unquestionably one of the highlights of the set. 
Whip It
Arguably Devo’s only real hit, this is still fairly typical of the band’s music, but perhaps a bit more catchy. It’s a good song, but does suffer a bit from having been seriously overplayed. 
Girl U Want
Another classic example of Devo’s quirky, robotic music, this is a strong tune, but perhaps not as big a standout as some of the other selections here. 
Freedom Of Choice
More guitar and percussion based, this is a strong number. It sometimes reminds me a little of The B-52’s at other points The Romantics. 
Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA
The first half of this song feels like punk meets quirky progressive rock. It’s incredibly tasty and when it shifts out into the second portion of the twofer it’s frantic and features multiple layers of vocals. This is a Devo classic and another highlight of the set. 
Gut Feeling/ (Slap Your Mammy)
I like this, and it’s more in keeping with the older guitar based motif of the band, but it’s not really all that exceptional.
Gates Of Steel
If there’s a weak one here, this is probably it. It’s just too stripped down and understated and doesn’t do much for me. It’s not bad by any means, but if you have to pick a weakest link, I’d target this one.
Working In The Coal Mine
I first heard this one when I got the soundtrack to the movie Heavy Metal. Bouncy and fun, this is quirky and very tasty. I’ve always liked this song. It’s actually a cover, but I’ve never heard the original.
Jocko Homo
This is the biggie (at least in terms of being classic) for Devo, probably the first song most of us ever heard from the band – and certainly their anthem. It’s a cool track and one of the more unusual in their catalog. “Are we not men?” indeed.
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