Discover more from The Retroist
My First DEVO Album
I had two older sisters who were well versed in the late 70s and 80s rock bands. Now they were a couple of years older than me, so there was a generation gap. So while they were sneaking cigarettes and listening to Zeppelin, BoC, and the Clash in their rooms well into the night, I was in the next room dreaming about video games or trying to watch late late movies.
I would often complain loudly, but what could I do, it was a rock N roll household. In retrospect, my sisters were pretty cool, but to me, it was all noise. I inherited an old portable record player from one of my sisters, mostly to use to play Disney records, but one day while fumbling around in the basement I found a collection of older records that would dominate my life for a year and follow me my whole life. They were jazz and Big Band records. I loved it. Bing Crosby, The Ink Spots, The Mills Brothers – I had them all plus more.
I never asked my sisters how they felt about my affinity towards older music. They were not the criticizing kind, but I imagine it must have seemed odd to them that their little brother could spend hours listening to Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, while they were rocking out to the Sex Pistols in the very next room. Now I admit, I kind of liked some of the music they played (and would like it more later in life) and it was always fun when they had parties in the yard and weird looking people would be playing around with guitars while listening to all this rock and or roll. I was an unofficial mascot at their weekend parties, and I learned a lot about card games and coin tricks during that time.
The people who came to the parties would bring beer, instruments, and of course record albums. Most often, when the bacchanalia was over, they would leave these albums behind. Which I would round up and look at like a scientist on a strange planet. Only the albums whose covers intrigued me (and they needed to be very interesting), would I try to play. That is how I first heard Queen’s “News of the World” (who could resist that cover) and it was also how I heard DEVO for the first time. Someone had left a copy of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! behind and I thought the art was really captivating. When I opened the album up and saw that the vinyl was YELLOW, I needed to see what this was all about.
The music both alarmed me and hypnotized me. Before I knew it, I had listened to side A and flipped it over. I did this again and again and again.
About a week later, the album disappeared. The album’s original owner reclaimed it. It would several years before I got another copy of the album, and I have never been without a copy of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! since in one form or another. Seeing them perform the album from start to finish was a lifetime goal that I will cherish forever.