Why is Devo’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Q: Should you listen to this album? A: Uh, that’d be a big time yes.
What does Devo’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
Devo is a band I both appreciate more and love more as I get older. They wear really well, if that tracks.
I liked them well enough from the time I was a little kid. Probably my first encounter with Devo was by way of the wildly silly yet ingeniously subversive music video for “Whip It.”
At some point I bought their (at the time) best of CD and enjoyed it. But then a little bit later something clicked where I both began to gain a deeper understanding of what the band’s whole “thing” (more on this below) is.
At the same time, in exploring Devo’s catalog, I was blown away by deep cut songs that only get revealed from really spending time with albums. For a recent example: it’s possible that I’ve listened to “Love Without Anger,” off the 1981 New Traditionalists album, more times in 2022 versus any other single song.
Moving onto Q: Are We Not Men: During the research process for this here best 1,000 albums ever project, I wrote the following: “Uncontrollable Urge” sounds like the appropriate backing for a Volvo commercial in 2021, but it’s important to remember how crazy ahead of its time this band is. More importantly: really good song.
Part of the genius of Devo is that beyond their clever and often subversive songwriting and beyond their quirky innovations in new wave/post punk/nerd rock, they have the ability to deconstruct the Rolling Stone’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (one of the most famous songs in modern pop and rock history, no less!) and make it something exquisitely and entirely their own. Bonus: Martin Scorsese used the Devo version of the song for Casino.
I will point out just for reflection that “Jocko Homo” is one of the weirdest songs in Devo’s catalog. It’s not my favorite song of theirs by a long shot, but it does include the famous refrain of “Are we not men? We are Devo!”
I really like “Mongoloid” from the perspective that it proves that Devo can produce (musically if not lyrically!) a mostly straight ahead driving, catchy post punk rock song when they so choose.
Pop culture stuff that has something to do with Devo’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Rather than attempting to explain what Devo’s “thing” (for lack of a more articulate word is myself, I’ll lean on this encyclopedia entry:
Their goal is to communicate the message using “information instead of emotions to make decisions. A lot of people make decisions based on paranoia, hatred, selfishness and love.” Devo is of the philosophy that it is critics’ fear of their difference that makes them reject their music: “[We] threaten them.”
Some stats & info about Devo’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? New Wave, Rock Music, Dance Rock, Post Punk, Nerd Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #252
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! released? 1978
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #704 out of 1,000
Devo’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.