Discord & Rhyme: An Album Podcast

Discord and Rhyme is a podcast where we discuss the albums we love, song by song.

018: Devo - Duty Now for the Future (1979)

"Be like your ancestors or be different. The fittest shall survive and the unfit may live. Grow big or stay little. Lay a million eggs or give birth to one. Unused organs shall disappear or persist. Win a mate by combat or not. Fight your neighbours or untie them. Wear gaudy colours or avoid display. Develop legs, wings, tail or not – they will help or not. We must repeat ..."

— The Devolutionary Oath

Put down the chainsaw, and listen to us — it’s time for Discord & Rhyme’s guide to Devo! You probably best know Devo for their 1980 hit “Whip It,” but that song is only the tip of the Devo iceberg, which is red and shaped like an energy dome. This episode, Dan skews from the standard Devo path, choosing neither their critically adored debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo nor their commercial breakthrough Freedom of Choice. Instead, he guides Mike, Rich, and Will through the album between those two, Duty Now for the Future, a pioneering album in the genre of synthpop, and an example of the gristly “connective tissue” that enriches a really great band’s discography. You might not have heard of anything on the album, but every single song is brimming over with that distinctive Devo identity.

Miscellany

  • The version of “Freedom of Choice” over the closing is from DEV2.0, a Disney-backed 2006 project where a band of tweens performed Devo’s songs, with the innuendo removed. Here’s the music video, and your mileage may vary on the quality, but they really give it their all.

  • We touched very little on Devo’s aesthetic, which changed with every album and was a major component of their live performances. Here’s a 1981 concert from their New Traditionalists tour, featuring the band dancing on treadmills 24 years before OK-GO (though not as intricately).

  • Correction: The 1987 Flintstones/Jetsons crossover is actually called The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, not The Flintstones Meet the Jetsons. We apologize profusely for this error.

  • As Will alluded to, the lyrics to “Big Mess” (from the Oh No It’s Devo LP) were inspired by a series of letters a writer named “Cowboy Kim” sent to a Los Angeles office that managed local game show hosts' fan mail.

Other links

Discord & Rhyme roll call

  • Dan Watkins (host)

  • Chris Willie Williams

  • Mike DeFabio

  • Rich Bunnell

Duty Now for the Future tracklist

  1. Devo Corporate Anthem

  2. Clockout

  3. Timing X

  4. Wiggly World

  5. Blockhead

  6. Strange Pursuit

  7. S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)

  8. Triumph of the Will

  9. The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize

  10. Pink Pussycat

  11. Secret Agent Man

  12. Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA

  13. Red Eye

Other clips used

Devo:

  • Whip It

  • Mongoloid

  • Uncontrollable Urge

  • Jocko Homo (Hardcore Devo Vol. 1 version)

  • Shout

  • Girl U Want

  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

  • R U Experienced?

  • Don’t Be Cruel

  • Smart Patrol (demo)

  • When We Do It

  • Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy

  • It’s Not Right

  • Big Mess

Others:

  • Mark Mothersbaugh - Thor: Ragnarok

  • Tegan and Sara feat. The Lonely Island - Everything Is Awesome!!!

  • Mark Mothersbaugh - Theme from Rugrats

  • “Weird Al” Yankovic - Dare to Be Stupid

  • Simon Preston - Rollerball Corporate Anthem

  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Fanfare for the Common Man

  • The Residents - Japanese Watercolor

  • Electric Six - Gay Bar

  • Mothers of Invention - Absolutely Free

  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Peter Gunn

  • DEV2.0 - Freedom of Choice

Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip

Devo:

  • Soo Bawls

  • Social Fools

  • Head Like a Hole

  • Bread and Butter

  • Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini

  • Too Much Paranoias

  • I Desire

Others:

  • The Beatles - I Am the Walrus

  • Van Halen - 1984

  • Van Halen - Jump

  • They Might Be Giants - Theme from Flood

  • Papa Roach - Last Resort

  • Men Without Hats - Pop Goes the World

  • The Rolling Stones - Some Girls

  • Chumbawamba - Tubthumping

  • Procol Harum - The Thin End of the Wedge

  • Cab Calloway - St. James Infirmary Blues

  • The Moody Blues - I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)

Band/album personnel

  • Mark Mothersbaugh – lead and background vocals; keyboards; guitar

  • Gerald Casale – lead and background vocals; bass guitar; keyboards

  • Bob Mothersbaugh – lead and background vocals; guitar

  • Bob Casale – guitar; keyboards; backing vocals

  • Alan Myers – drums

  • Ken Scott  – production; engineering

Credits

“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:

  • Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste

  • The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...

  • Faith No More - Midlife Crisis

  • Herbie Hancock - Hornets

  • Kraftwerk - Autobahn

  • Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen

  • Devo - S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain) (this episode only)

  • Devo - Penetration in the Centerfold (this episode only)

You can buy or stream Duty Now for the Future and other albums by Devo at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Rich @zonetrope and Dan @DanSWatkins. Editing is by Rich Bunnell, and special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for producing everything to a lovely sheen. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.