Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Devo’s 1977 debut album “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” is punk inspired not by politics, but by science. It embraces the parts of humanity that are weird and different and uplifts them to a whole new status of “cool.” I put cool in quotes because I don’t believe Mark and the boys were ever TRYING to be cool. They are just being their silly and slightly off-kilter selves. Here we see them take pop culture and mutate it into a late-night infomercial parody of itself. Their take on the Rolling stones “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” is a perfect example of this as they devolve the classic into something that’s jerky, awkward, and more believable as the singer is NOT a swarthy up-and-coming rock god. (I’m mean that in the nicest way possible, Mark!) There is a lot to take away from this album and each song, while seemingly simple, is subversively complex. There was nothing like it at the time and while this sound has influenced countless other bands, nothing has quite compared to it since.
I previously covered Devo member Gerald Casale’s solo album here on Sound Selections, so it’s shouldn’t be a surprise his legendary main act is appearing here as well. Their sound has influenced me for YEARS and they remain one of my favorite bands. Their sound and ethos is just so unique that no one (with the exception of Weird Al) has been able to successfully copy it. You can successfully imitate The Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen, but to try to capture what Devo “is” is to become a parody of yourself, which plays into Devo’s whole deal. They’re a truly unique band that has carved out a very specific place in the pantheon of rock and roll.