Freedom of Choice

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Freedom of Choice
Studio album by Devo
Released May 16, 1980 (1980-05-16)
Recorded October 1979 – early 1980
Studio Record Plant Studios, Hollywood, California
Genre New wave, synthpop
Length 32:14
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Devo, Robert Margouleff
Devo chronology
Duty Now for the Future
Freedom of Choice
DEV-O Live
Singles from Freedom Of Choice
  1. "Girl U Want"
    Released: April 24, 1980
  2. "Whip It"
    Released: August 13, 1980
  3. "Gates of Steel"
    Released: October 6, 1980
  4. "Freedom of Choice"
    Released: December 29, 1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic link 4.5/5 stars
Robert Christgau B+[1]
Rolling Stone link (Not Rated)
Smash Hits 6/10[2]

Freedom of Choice is the third album by new wave musicians Devo, released on May 16, 1980 on LP and July 7, 1987 on CD. It saw the band moving in more of an overt synthpop direction, even though guitars still played a prominent role.

The album was produced by Robert Margouleff, famous for his synthesizer work in Tonto's Expanding Head Band and with Stevie Wonder.

On the Billboard Music Charts, Freedom of Choice peaked at #22 on the Pop Albums chart. It contains Devo's most well-known song, "Whip It," which hit #8 and #14 on the Club Play Singles and Pop Singles charts, respectively.

The group later performed an alternate version of "Girl U Want" that appeared on the Tank Girl soundtrack.

An entire alternate demo version of the album was released in 2000 on the Rhino Handmade two-disc rarities collection Recombo DNA. The demo version lacks "It's Not Right," "Ton o' Luv," "Don't You Know," and "Freedom of Choice," but it includes demos of the "Whip It" B-side "Turnaround" and three unreleased tracks ("Luv & Such," "Time Bomb," and "Make Me Move").

In 2008, the album was digitally remastered and released as part of the box set This is the Devo Box in Japan. On September 16, 2009, Warner Brothers and Devo announced a re-release of Freedom of Choice and Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, with a tour performing both albums.[3]

Track listing[edit]

On all editions, all songs written by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald V. Casale except as noted.

  1. "Girl U Want" – 2:55
  2. "It's Not Right" (M. Mothersbaugh) – 2:20
  3. "Whip It" – 2:37
  4. "Snowball" – 2:28
  5. "Ton o' Luv" (G. Casale) – 2:29
  6. "Freedom of Choice" – 3:28
  7. "Gates of Steel" (G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, Sue Schmidt, Debbie Smith[4]) – 3:26
  8. "Cold War" (Robert Mothersbaugh, G. Casale) – 2:30
  9. "Don't You Know" (M. Mothersbaugh) – 2:14
  10. "That's Pep!" (M. Mothersbaugh) – 2:17
  11. "Mr. B's Ballroom" (M. Mothersbaugh) – 2:45
  12. "Planet Earth" (G. Casale) – 2:45
1993 UK CD Reissue (Oh, No! It's DEVO b/w Freedom of Choice)
No. Title Length
1. "Time Out for Fun"   2:48
2. "Peek-A-Boo!"   3:01
3. "Out of Sync"   3:34
4. "Explosions"   3:01
5. "That's Good"   3:23
6. "Patterns"   2:57
7. "Big Mess"   2:42
8. "Speed Racer" (Mark Mothersbaugh) 2:38
9. "What I Must Do"   2:34
10. "I Desire" (Gerald V. Casale, John Hinckley, Jr., M. Mothersbaugh) 3:13
11. "Deep Sleep"   3:24
12. "Girl U Want"   2:55
13. "It's Not Right" (M. Mothersbaugh) 2:20
14. "Whip It"   2:37
15. "Snowball"   2:28
16. "Ton 'o Luv" (G. Casale) 2:29
17. "Freedom of Choice"   3:08
18. "Gates of Steel" (G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, Sue Schmidt, Debbie Smith) 3:26
19. "Cold War" (Bob Mothersbaugh, G. Casale) 2:30
20. "Don't You Know" (M. Mothersbaugh) 2:14
21. "That's Pep" (M. Mothersbaugh) 2:17
22. "Mr. B's Ballroom" (M. Mothersbaugh) 2:45
23. "Planet Earth" (G. Casale) 2:45
24. "Turn Around"   2:12
25. "Peek-A-Boo! (Dance Velocity Mix)"   4:37
  • This reissue paired Freedom of Choice with the 1982 album Oh, No! It's Devo and added two bonus tracks: the "Whip It" B-side "Turn Around" and the "Peek-A-Boo!" B-side "Peek-A-Boo! (Dance Velocity)."
2009 Deluxe Remastered Edition
No. Title Length
1. "Girl U Want"   2:55
2. "It's Not Right" (Mark Mothersbaugh) 2:20
3. "Whip It"   2:37
4. "Snowball"   2:28
5. "Ton 'o Luv" (Gerald V. Casale) 2:29
6. "Freedom of Choice"   3:08
7. "Gates of Steel" (G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, Sue Schmidt, Debbie Smith) 3:26
8. "Cold War" (Bob Mothersbaugh, G. Casale) 2:30
9. "Don't You Know" (M. Mothersbaugh) 2:14
10. "That's Pep" (M. Mothersbaugh) 2:17
11. "Mr. B's Ballroom" (M. Mothersbaugh) 2:45
12. "Planet Earth" (G. Casale) 2:45
13. "Freedom of Choice Theme Song (Live)"   2:46
14. "Whip It (Live)"   2:41
15. "Girl U Want (Live)"   2:56
16. "Gates of Steel (Live)" (G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, Schmidt, Smith) 3:17
17. "Be Stiff (Live)" (G. Casale, Robert Lewis) 2:50
18. "Planet Earth (Live)"   2:32
  • On November 3, 2009, the "deluxe remastered" edition was issued by Warner Brothers and contains the DEV-O Live EP as bonus tracks.
DEVO-LUX Edition
  • On December 23, 2009, the "DEVO-LUX" edition was released, which featured the DEV-O Live EP and the demo versions of "Snowball," "Gates of Steel," and "Time Bomb." The package also featured Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, which was paired with the demo versions of "Uncontrollable Urge," "Social Fools," and "Sloppy."


Track Commentary[edit]

  • Contrary to popular myth, the lyrical content of "Whip It" has nothing to do with sadomasochism. According to Jerry Casale's commentary on the Complete Truth About De-evolution laserdisc and DVD, the song was inspired by Norman Vincent Peale's 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking and the "can do philosophy" espoused within. Casale also told Songfacts that the lyrics were written by him "as an imitation of Thomas Pynchon's parodies in his book Gravity's Rainbow."[6]
  • "Mr. B's Ballroom" is a lyric re-written version of an earlier relationship-focused song called "Luv & Such," which can be heard on the aforementioned rarities collection Recombo DNA.
  • "That's Pep"'s lyric is an early 20th-century poem by Grace G. Bostwick.

2009 Album Performances[edit]

  • November 4 - Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood, CA
  • November 7 - Grand Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
  • November 9 - Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA
  • November 13 - Vic Theatre, Chicago, IL
  • November 16 - 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
  • November 21 - Irving Plaza, New York, NY
  • November 24 - Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON

To commemorate the release of the album's "deluxe remastered edition" on CD, the album was performed in its entirety on each of these nights and featured the band in their original touring costumes. The encore performances were "Be Stiff" and "Beautiful World," the latter of which featured the Devo "mascot" Booji Boy on vocals.

The opening act for this tour was comedian/performance artist Reggie Watts, and for certain dates, JP Hasson (aka JP Incorporated aka Pleaseeasaur).


Several songs from Freedom of Choice have been covered by other musicians, most notably "Girl U Want," which has been recorded by the Mummies, Superchunk, Soundgarden, Chancho en piedra, Robert Palmer, and Zombie Ghost Train. Japanese Devo-tees Polysics also lifted the main guitar riff of "Girl U Want" on their song "Each Life Each End".

The album's title track has been covered by 16 Volt, The Aquabats, A Perfect Circle, Lagwagon, Snapcase, Psychotica, Big Drill Car, Fu Manchu, and the Frustrations. Collide and Face to Face recorded versions of "Whip It," which has also been performed in concert by numerous musicians including The String Cheese Incident and Pearl Jam. The song was also covered for the NME 2008 Awards Compilation by the band Does It Offend You, Yeah?. "Gates of Steel" has been covered by The Hex Dispensers, Skankin' Pickle, Supernova, Yo La Tengo, Groovie Ghoulies, Shihad, Junkyard Dogs, The Flaming Lips,[7] The Men, and Snapcase.

The "Whip It" B-side "Turn Around" was covered by Nirvana and included on the rarities collection Incesticide in 1992.



  • "Whip It" / "Turn Around"
  • "Girl U Want" / "Turn Around"
  • "Freedom of Choice" / "Snowball (remix)"
  • "Gates of Steel" / "Mr B.'s Ballroom" / "Whip It"



Year Chart Peak Position
1980 Billboard Pop Albums (U.S. 22
1980 UK Album Charts 47


Year Single Chart Peak Position
1980 "Whip It"/"Gates of Steel"/"Freedom of Choice" Billboard Club Play Singles 22
1980 "Whip It" Billboard Pop Singles 14[8]


  1. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Devo". Robert Christgau. 
  2. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (May 29 – June 11, 1980): 30. 
  3. ^ Warner Brothers and Devo press release on re-release and tour
  4. ^ The De-Evolution of Akron's Music, Beacon Journal, 2000-09-10, retrieved 2009-12-01 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Whip It". Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  7. ^
  8. ^