Before they were totally Eighties, Devo were genuinely subversive: wickedly funny avant-nerds peddling evolutionary apocalypse (we're literally going ape again) in a brittle, hooky garage rock. These 1974-77 demos – first issued in the Nineties and including four-track stabs at New Wave party standards "Social Fools" and "Be Stiff" – pack a rough, giddy confrontation that, by "Whip It," was shaved to safer, twitchy comedy. Devo's pop-art ambitions are evident in "Soo Bawls" (early Roxy Music) and "Mechanical Man" (basement-audio Kraftwerk). Their pop smarts bust through, too, with Cheap Trick-like brawn in "I Need a Chick." An odd treat: 1975's "Auto Modown," which sounds like it came from the last Red Hot Chili Peppers album.
From The Archives Issue 1189: August 15, 2013