Pioneers Who Got Scalped

Warner Archives/Rhino

Devo themselves said it best on Now It Can Be Told, a late-’80s live outing released on Enigma Records. To paraphrase: “I’ll bet you’re wondering why we’re sitting down,” Mark Mothersbaugh remarks after a loungey, laid back “Jocko Homo.” “It’s just to show you that after all these years in the business, we still can.”

Devo’s career arc, spawned from mid-American conceptual parody, remained pretty true to the philosophical tenets adopted by the band from the start. We are only slightly more — and probably slightly less — than impulsive apes with the ability to manufacture our desires and unhappiness. Free will is a carefully cultivated form of mass consumerism. We are all devo-lved.

As difficult as it is to cram a representation of everything Devo has contributed on two discs, Rhino has done a spectacular job. Not only are most official Devo releases represented by a few tracks each (my favorites, usually), but snippets from Devo’s films, a handful of b-sides and soundtrack one-offs, and a mammoth full-color 52-page booklet make this a must-have for collectors and novices alike. Bring home the bacon with this one.

Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025;

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