Total Devo

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Total Devo
Studio album by Devo
Released May 1988
Recorded June 1986-October 1987
Genre New wave
Length 68:14 (with bonus tracks)
Label Enigma, Restless Records
Producer Devo
Devo chronology
E-Z Listening Disc
Total Devo
Now It Can Be Told: DEVO at the Palace
Singles from Total Devo
  1. "Baby Doll"
    Released: 1988
  2. "Disco Dancer"
    Released: 1988
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 1.5/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone 1/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau C+ [3]

Total Devo was the seventh studio album by American new wave band Devo. It was released in 1988 (see 1988 in music). It was the first Devo album that was recorded without drummer Alan Myers, who was replaced by former Sparks drummer David Kendrick. Some fans consider this among the weakest Devo albums; however, this same disc has proven to be fairly accessible to many non-Devo fans[citation needed] due to the more polished electronic sound as well as the more introverted lyrics, many of which allude to a failed romantic relationship. This was the first Devo album to use the then-new Roland S-50 and Roland D-50 synthesizers. This was also the last album to use the Fairlight CMI computer, which was mostly used for pre-sequencing the album as well as the chorus on "Some Things Never Change" and "Agitated".

"The Shadow" has lyrics that contain numerous references to literary works (the chorus is partially lifted from T. S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men) and it incorporates the catchphrase from the serials following the character The Shadow ("Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men?/The shadow knows!"). "Some Things Never Change" (which also quotes The Beatles' "A Day in the Life") is used in Interplay's computer game, Neuromancer (itself an adaptation of the novel of the same name by William Gibson).

"Disco Dancer" was remixed and released as a single and a music video, the latter of which, according to Gerald Casale in his commentary for The Complete Truth About De-Evolution laserdisc and DVD, failed to receive airplay after first being aired on MTV's "Smash or Trash?" segment. Apparently it was "trashed" and MTV refused to air it after that.

Total Devo was the only Devo album to be released on DAT, as well as vinyl, cassette, and CD.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald V. Casale unless otherwise indicated.

  1. "Baby Doll" – 3:56
  2. "Disco Dancer" – 4:14
  3. "Some Things Never Change" – 4:12
  4. "Plain Truth" – 3:13
  5. "Happy Guy" – 3:26
  6. "Don't Be Cruel" (Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell) – 2:10
  7. "The Shadow" – 3:25
  8. "I'd Cry If You Died" – 4:05
  9. "Agitated" – 3:53
  10. "Man Turned Inside Out" (Mark Mothersbaugh) – 4:18
  11. "Sexi Luv" – 3:14 (Not included on the original vinyl album)
  12. "Blow Up" (Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh, Bob Casale) – 4:38
  13. "Some Things Never Change" (Cassette Version) - 5:19 (Included on CD version, DAT version, and subsequent CD releases)
  • In 1994, Restless Records reissued the album on CD with the following bonus tracks:
  1. "Baby Doll" (Extended Mix) (5:42)
  2. "Disco Dancer" (12" Version) (6:30)
  3. "Agitated" (Hyperextended Mix) (5:42)


Cover design[edit]

The cover photo is based on an early promotional photo by Devo from 1977. However, in taking the cover shot, David Kendrick's chin fell behind Bob Casale's uniform. Rather than retake the photo, a second photo of Kendrick's chin was very obviously pasted on. For the silhouette photo on the back cover, the band members posed naked, in a spoof of Prince's "Lovesexy" album art.

The caption on the front cover has changed depending on the number of tracks contained on each release. The cover of the original vinyl release (Enigma:D1-73303) included the caption "11 digital cartoons from the de-evolution band," while the CD release (Enigma:D2-73303) was captioned "13 digital cartoons from the de-evolution band." A cassette release was captioned "12 digital cartoons...", and the Restless Records re-release is captioned with "16 digital cartoons..."


Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1988 Pop Albums 189


  1. ^ Huey, Steve. Total Devo at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  2. ^ Michael Azerrad (1988-08-11). "Total Devo | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  3. ^ "CG: devo". Robert Christgau. 1978-04-17. Retrieved 2012-03-12.