Duty Now for the Future

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Duty Now for the Future
Devo - Duty Now.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 1979 (1979-07)
RecordedSeptember 1978–early 1979
StudioChateau Recorders, Hollywood
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerKen Scott
Devo chronology
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Duty Now for the Future
Freedom of Choice
Singles from Duty Now For the Future
  1. "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize"
    Released: 1979
  2. "Secret Agent Man"
    Released: 1979
Alternative cover
International cover
International cover

Duty Now for the Future is the second studio album by American rock band Devo, released in July 1979 by Warner Bros. Records. Produced by Ken Scott, the album was recorded between September 1978 and early 1979 at Chateau Recorders in Hollywood. The majority of the songs on the album had been performed in Devo's live set as early as 1976.[1]


A majority of the album's tracks had already been written and played live before the completion of Q: Are We Not Men in February 1978. The earliest song written was 'Smart Patrol,' which was debuted live in April 1975.[2] At the time, Devo were a quartet consisting of bassist Gerald Casale, keyboardist Mark Mothersbaugh, guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh, and percussionist Jim Mothersbaugh.[3] The quartet line-up is featured in The Truth About De-Evolution, a short film by the group which features an early recording of their 'Secret Agent Man' cover,[4] arranged by Mark Mothersbaugh.

In December 1976, the group became a quintet and formed the line-up found on this album, replacing Jim Mothersbaugh with Alan Myers and introducing multi-instrumentalist Bob Casale. By this point, the group were performing Clockout, Timing X & Blockhead live. Clockout and Timing X had been written by Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, respectively, while Bob and Mark co-wrote blockhead.[3] Clockout, in particular, took advantage of this expanded line-up and featured Bob Casale playing bass, in a role that Gerald usually would take.[5]

From this period until March 1977, the group performed regularly at a local venue named The Crypt[2][6] and filmed part of a short documentary on the band there, which featured Devo Corporate Anthem during the film's title card.[7] The song and later video were a nod to the 1975 film Rollerball, in which games are preceded by players and the audience standing solemnly while listening to a regional "corporate hymn."[8] Also in the documentary is a short excerpt from Mr. DNA.[7]

By December 1977, the group had moved out of Akron, Ohio, and relocated to California, where they had already begun recording their first album.[9] That month, they performed at Max's Kansas City in New York and debuted the Mothersbaugh brothers' compositions 'Wiggly World' & 'Pink Pussycat.' [6]

The song 'Red Eye' was first played live as the encore to the Q: Are We Not Men tour in October 1978.[10] It features Devo mascot Booji Boy (Mark Mothersbaugh) on lead vocals.[11] Throughout late 1976 and 1977, the group primarily wrote songs for keyboards, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums, but later songs like 'Red Eye,' 'S.I.B.' & 'The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize' were more keyboard-based. Live performances of those tracks (and synced videos for the latter) track features three sets of keyboards, an electric guitar, and a drum kit.[11][12]

Production and recording[edit]

Duty Now for the Future was produced by Ken Scott. Like Brian Eno, who had produced Devo's debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Scott had also worked with David Bowie, most notably on the records The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and its follow-up, Aladdin Sane. Scott heaped praise on the band, claiming they were "quite professional in the studio" and that he "loved every minute of it."[13]

Recording on the album started in September 1978, one month following the release of their first album,[14] and one prior to the debut of their Q. Are We Not Men? tour, which would interrupt recording. Sessions likely picked up again in November when the tour saw the group return to California for a week.[15] Final sessions on the album likely began following the conclusion of the tour's first leg in January 1979, perhaps lasting until the beginning of the tour's second leg in May.[16]

Scott discussed his role in the recordings and how Devo came to choose him for the album: "I consider my job to put the act across in the best way possible, in the way THEY wish to be perceived. I hate it when I'm part of the final equation. The act was signed for their talent not mine. I just wish the modern A&R people saw things that way. I know they chose me because of the Bowie records I did, but I don't know if it was a direct recommendation from Mr. Jones. Devo always wanted to learn. That's why they worked with each producer only once. Took what they needed and then time to move on."[17] Mark Mothersbaugh recalled that at the time he thought Scott destroyed the album, as most of the tracks had been written to be performed live the group wanted to recreate that sound, but Scott wanted to emphasise Devo's tight and robotic qualities, recording the album one instrument at a time playing to a click track. Mothersbaugh felt that the results were not as satisfying than playing the material on the following tour.[18]

One prominent aspect of Duty Now for the Future is in the manipulated sound of the guitars. According to Scott, to record the solo for "Secret Agent Man," "We overloaded mic amps and fed the signal through headphones which were taped to the mic."[13]

Devo bass guitarist and co-songwriter Gerald Casale corroborated this approach in an interview with BAM magazine in 1979. "A guitar can only do what a guitar does. It's like only one tiny piece of a synthesizer. On this album, we did much more with the guitars, too. Sometimes you don't know that they're guitars."[19]

However, in later years, Casale was critical of the sound of the album. In a Reddit chat on June 25, 2013, he commented, "I love the songs but I loathe Ken Scott's production. He 'de-balled' us."[20]

Artwork and packaging[edit]

The American 12" album cover was jokingly dominated by the album's Universal Product Code. The colorful Janet Perr artwork satirized the new requirements for these bar codes. Until that time, album covers were seen as an entire art form unto themselves. Consequently, the new mandates for UPCs splashed across every work of album art were a subject of much protest as an infringement upon artistic integrity and an Orwellian symbol of the impersonal modern age.

The photograph of the band was taken by photographer Allan Tannenbaum for the Soho Weekly News in New York City. It was used in the album artwork by simply taking it from the front page of the newspaper in the exact same dimensions, unbeknownst to the photographer. When he discovered this, he contacted the record company and was paid for the use.

The rectangular image of the band originally came perforated and could therefore be removed from the "offending" barcodes surrounding it.

The inner sleeve included the lyrics of all the songs printed in a single block of closely printed text. In addition to other artwork, the sleeve also featured a West Hollywood address from which one could request information and news about the band. In addition, an address was included to allow purchasers to order a copy of the Devo-vision videocassette from Time Life. This tape was never actually made available from Time Life and was a few years later issued under the title The Men Who Make the Music via Warner Home Video.


Devo produced one music video for this album. "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize" combined animation with blue screen effects of the band performing. In this video, Devo chiefly wore white shirts and pants and silver 3D glasses. Also of note is the appearance of Alex Mothersbaugh, the daughter of guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh.[21] Alex would later be featured on the back cover of Devo's 1984 album, Shout.

A short clip of the band standing at attention and then saluting was filmed to accompany "Devo Corporate Anthem" and was used in concert performance.[22]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB–[24]
Rolling Stone(very negative)[25]
Smash Hits6/10[26]
The Daily VaultA[27]

Duty Now for the Future was on the Billboard charts for 10 weeks, peaking at No. 73. It was received less enthusiastically than their first release, Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!. Dave Marsh, writing in Rolling Stone, condemns it completely, feeling that "inspired amateurism works only when the players aspire to something better."[28] In their review of the album, Smash Hits described it as "unimpressive", but noted that the "change of style definitely grows on you".[26] They went on to say that, although the album was more accessible, it was "lacking the zany magic of old". In Canada, the album reached number 87.[29]

The AllMusic review, written more than a decade later, takes a longer view. Reviewer Mark Deming writes that "their second album captures the group in the midst of a significant stylistic shift" while acknowledging that the song "'Triumph of the Will' embraces fascism as a satirical target without bothering to make it sound as if they disapprove."[30] KROQ-FM/LA long-time disc jockey Jed the Fish, admittedly a huge fan of Devo, sees the album as playing "catch-up," fleshing out many more songs from their immense volume of demo recordings.

Cultural significance[edit]

A seminal new wave synthpop album, Duty Now for the Future was eventually heralded as one of the first pop/rock or AOR releases of a major record label to rely heavily on synthesizers, which went on to be widely used in the subsequent new wave genre of the 1980s. As an offshoot of punk rock, new wave music had consisted primarily of guitar-based songs derived from traditional rock and roll and blues scales and riffs, as represented by Devo's punk contemporaries the Sex Pistols, Ramones and the Clash.

Punk rock musician Henry Rollins is among the many musicians that praise the album's innovations. Rollins' short-lived Infinite Zero reissue label (an offshoot of American Recordings) was responsible for the first U.S. CD release of Duty Now for the Future in 1994. The album had been continually overlooked by original label Warner Bros.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Devo Corporate Anthem"Mark Mothersbaugh1:16
2."Clockout"Gerald Casale2:48
3."Timing X"M. Mothersbaugh1:13
4."Wiggly World"Bob Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:45
5."Blockhead"B. Mothersbaugh, M. Mothersbaugh3:00
6."Strange Pursuit"G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh2:45
7."S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)"M. Mothersbaugh4:27
Side two
8."Triumph of the Will"M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:19
9."The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize"M. Mothersbaugh2:42
10."Pink Pussycat"M. Mothersbaugh, B. Mothersbaugh3:12
11."Secret Agent Man"P. F. Sloan, Steve Barri; arr. M. Mothersbaugh3:37
12."Smart Patrol"/"Mr. DNA"G. Casale / G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh6:06
13."Red Eye"M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:50
Total length:38:56

Additional tracks





Starting only a few weeks after the conclusion of the group's previous world tour, the Duty Now Tour was significantly shorter and only covered the US and Canada.[33]

As with all DEVO tours, the show opened with a showcase of their short film The Truth About De-Evolution, as well as the promo videos for "Satisfaction", "Come Back Jonee", and the then-newly filmed "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize".[34] The rest of the show was structured in two halves, the first half consisting entirely of material from the new album, unreleased songs (such as an early version of "Going Under"), and singles. During this half, the group were dressed in white shirts with gray pants and silver visor style glasses. Following this half, a short film would play (later appearing in The Men Who Make the Music), in which a dispute with their record label causes them to return to their yellow radiation suits.

After the short film concluded, the group returned to the stage dressed in their classic radiation suits. The second half of the show was a shortened version of their Are We Not Men? setlist, in which the yellow suits would be torn away until the performance of "Jocko Homo". As an encore, Booji Boy performed two songs: "In Heaven Everything Is Fine", from the film Eraserhead, segued into the unreleased "One That Gets Away".[35]

Concert Dates
Date Venue Notes
First Leg (1979)
June 21 Max Bell Arena, Calgary, AB, Canada Originally booked at The MacEwan Hall Ballroom at the University Of Calgary
June 22 S.U.B. Theatre, University Of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
June 24 Pacific National Exhibition Gardens, Vancouver, BC, Canada Pointed Sticks opened
June 25 The Place Tavern, Seattle, WA
June 27 Warner Theatre, Fresno, CA
June 28 Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz, CA
June 29 Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA
July 1 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
July 4 Rainbow Music Hall, Denver, CO
July 6 Lawrence Opera House, Lawrence, KS
July 7 The Music Box, Omaha, NE Charlie Burton & Rock Therapy opened
July 8 Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN
July 11 Uptown Theatre, Milwaukee, WI
July 13 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL
July 14 Masonic Auditorium, Detroit, MI Flirt opened
July 15 Shea's Buffalo Theatre, Buffalo, NY
July 16 Rex Danforth Theatre, Toronto, ON, Canada DEVO performed twice this day
July 18 Triangle Theater, Rochester, NY
July 19 Walsh Center, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI
July 20 Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA
July 21 The Palladium, New York, NY
July 23 Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA
July 24 Washington, DC
July 25 The Mosque, Richmond, VA
July 26 Aycock Auditorium, University Of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
July 27 Agora Ballroom, Atlanta, GA
July 31 Texas Opry House, Houston, TX
August 2 Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX
August 3 The Palladium, Dallas, TX
August 4
August 25 San Diego State University Open Air Theatre, San Diego, CA
August 26 Campbell Hall, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
September 22 New-No-Now-Wave Festival, Minneapolis, MN DEVO performed in disguise as 'Dove', a Christian alter ego group. Concert filmed.[36]
October 2 Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, Hollywood, CA Television appearance, only professional footage from the tour.

A short British tour after this was cancelled.

October 13 Rockpop, Unterföhring, Germany Television appearance, lip syncing to "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize" Only appearance outside the US and Canada.
Second Leg (1979)
December 28 Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA DEVO performed twice on this date, the first time as Dove, opened by The Beat
December 29 Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz, CA Early songs from Freedom Of Choice begin to enter the setlist. The Beat Open
December 31 Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA DEVO performs as both themselves and Dove, opened by X.

Excerpts from the Dove set are heard on Recombo DNA


First Leg (June–August)

  1. "Going Under" *
  2. "Timing X"
  3. "Soo Bawls"
  4. "Secret Agent Man"
  5. "Pink Pussycat"
  6. "Penetration in the Centrefold"
  7. "Strange Pursuit"
  8. "Those Darn Girls"
  9. "S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)"
  10. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  11. "Praying Hands"
  12. "Uncontrollable Urge"
  13. "Mongoloid"
  14. "Jocko Homo"
  15. "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA"
  16. "Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin')" (7/4/1979 only)
  17. "Come Back Jonee"
  18. "Gut Feeling"
  19. "Slap Your Mammy"
  20. "Devo Corporate Anthem"
  21. "In Heaven Everything Is Fine"
  22. "The One That Gets Away"
  • *At the time, "Going Under" was referred to as "Softcore Mutations".

Second Leg (December)


  1. "It Takes a Worried Man"
  2. "Praying Hands"
  3. "Shrivel Up"
  4. "Gates of Steel" **
  5. "Jesus"
  6. "Gotta Serve Somebody"


  1. "Freedom of Choice Theme"
  2. "Whip It"
  3. "Girl U Want"
  4. "Penetration in the Centrefold"
  5. "Timing X"
  6. "Wiggly World"
  7. "Secret Agent Man"
  8. "Pink Pussycat"
  9. "Blockhead"
  10. "Be Stiff"
  11. "Uncontrollable Urge"
  12. "Mongoloid"
  13. "Come Back Jonee"
  14. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  15. "Jocko Homo"
  16. "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA"
  17. "Gut Feeling"
  18. "Slap Your Mammy"
  19. "U Got Me Bugged"
  20. "Fountain of Filth"
  21. "Devo Corporate Anthem"
  22. "Gates of Steel" **
  • *At the time, "Going Under" was referred to as "Softcore Mutations".
  • **Gates of Steel" was only performed on December 31st.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "DEVO Live Guide – 1973 to 1977". huboon.com.
  2. ^ a b "DEVO Live Guide - 1973 to 1976". huboon.com. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Devo - Live: The Mongoloid Years (Rykodisc, RCD 20209, 1992)
  4. ^ Devo | In The Beginning Was The End | THE TRUTH ABOUT DE EVOLUTION, retrieved November 21, 2021
  5. ^ Hardcore Devo Live! - Director - Keirda Bahruth, 2015
  6. ^ a b "DEVO Live Guide - 1977". huboon.com. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  7. ^ a b DEVO - The Men Who Make The Music (Pre-WB Version), archived from the original on December 13, 2021, retrieved November 21, 2021
  8. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2010). Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 9781593763947. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  9. ^ Grant, Steven (January 1979). "Yes!". Trouser Press. No. 35: 15.
  10. ^ "DEVO Live Guide - 1978". huboon.com. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Devo - Red Eye Express + The Words Get Stuck In My Throat (cut) [The Men Who Make The Music] [60fps], archived from the original on December 13, 2021, retrieved November 21, 2021
  12. ^ Devo - S.I.B - Live [Devo Live - 1980] [60fps], archived from the original on December 13, 2021, retrieved November 21, 2021
  13. ^ a b Ken Scott (July 2, 2007). "Ken Scott – Devo – Duty Now For The Future". NewsgroupHoffman Music Forums: Music Corner Steve Hoffman Music Forums: Music Corner. Retrieved January 31, 2015. {{cite newsgroup}}: Check |newsgroup= value (help)
  14. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-303672-6. P. 81
  15. ^ "DEVO Live Guide - 1978". huboon.com. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  16. ^ "DEVO Live Guide - 1979". huboon.com. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  17. ^ Ken Scott (July 2, 2007). "Ken Scott – Devo – Duty Now For The Future". NewsgroupHoffman Music Forums: Music Corner Steve Hoffman Music Forums: Music Corner. Retrieved January 31, 2015. {{cite newsgroup}}: Check |newsgroup= value (help)
  18. ^ How Music Carries Us through Life || Mark Mothersbaugh, retrieved November 21, 2021
  19. ^ Bam Magazine. May 18, 1979. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Gerald Casale (June 25, 2013). "I'm Gerald Casale, founding member of DEVO. Ask me anything!". Newsgroupreddit.com. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  21. ^ Devo (2003). The Complete Truth About De-evolution (DVD). Rhino Home Video.
  22. ^ bruskimon (April 9, 2006). "Devo Corporate Anthem". Archived from the original on December 13, 2021 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ AllMusic Review
  24. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: D". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 24, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  25. ^ "Duty Now for the Future – Album Reviews – Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. April 12, 2014. Archived from the original on April 12, 2014.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  26. ^ a b Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (June 28 – July 11, 1979): 25.
  27. ^ Feldman, Mark (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : Duty Now for the Future". dailyvault.com. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  28. ^ Dave Marsh (September 20, 1979). "Duty Now for the Future – Review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 27, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2008.
  29. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - July 28, 1979" (PDF).
  30. ^ Mark Deming. "allmusic (((Duty Now for the Future > Overview)))". Retrieved June 4, 2008.
  31. ^ "Warner Bros. Records and DEVO Announce the Release of Re-Mastered Versions of "DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE" and "NEW TRADITIONALISTS" from Ohio Art-Rock Pioneers". marketwire.com.
  32. ^ "Devo – Duty Now For The Future". Discogs.
  33. ^ "DEVO Live Guide - 1979". huboon.com. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  34. ^ DEVO - live in Dallas, TX, USA 1979-08-04, archived from the original on December 13, 2021, retrieved January 3, 2020
  35. ^ "Devo Live Guide - 07/21/79 - The Palladium, New York, NY". huboon.com. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  36. ^ Dove, The Band Of Love - New-No-Now-Wave Festival (1979), archived from the original on December 13, 2021, retrieved January 2, 2020

External links[edit]