DEVO: Beautiful Mutants (1974-1978)

DEVO put the future on tape long before they were signed and made records with Brian Eno. Before and after Eno, they were a research laboratory for the 1970s’ break with the past and the leap into the 1980s. They were also one of the best live bands of the punk/post-punk era. 

This mix offers a curation of early, unreleased material that supports the case for DEVO’s eminence. It divides into a double LP - studio and live. 

mp3 mix zipped up here

LP 1: Studio (1974-1978)

The first LP is a studio concept album that sequences primordial, weird, intense, and astounding early items into a devolved Sgt. Pepper with no commercial potential - same length, most tracks segued. It’s heavily overproduced and sonically-overdriven by the randomness of primitive recording technology and the ravages of time. Bob Dobbs/White Heat.

  • Because (from The Truth About De-Volution)
  • The Death of Booji Boy
  • The Smart Patrol (version 1)
  • Fraulein (live 1974, Akron, OH)
  • Shrivel Up (demo)
  • Hey Hey My My (long version)
  • How Many Ropes
  • Secret Agent Man (Mark M. vocals)
  • Lost At Home (Tater Tot)
  • U Got Me Bugged (instrumental version)

LP 2: Live (1977)

Booji and the Stooges. The selections come from February 1977 in Akron, augmented with some of the tracks the band excluded from their release of a May 1977 Cleveland show (“Miracle Witness Hour”). The tapes sit well together, and I only included really good stuff.

  • Nutty Buddy
  • Secret Agent Man
  • Shrivel Up
  • Too Much Paranoias
  • Space Junk
  • Blockhead
  • Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy
  • Sloppy
  • The Words Get Stuck in My Throat
  • Social Fools

Early DEVO:

The band had at least three or four albums of material by the time they were signed, some of which would be re-recorded for early singles and their first two albums (Q/A, Duty Now). The songs and the band’s attack changed a lot between 1974 and 1978, so the early versions are always fascinating.