Freedom of Choice (album)

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Freedom of Choice
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 16, 1980 (1980-05-16)
RecordedOctober 1979 – early 1980
StudioRecord Plant, Hollywood, California
LabelWarner Bros.
Devo chronology
Duty Now for the Future
Freedom of Choice
New Traditionalists
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

Freedom of Choice is the third studio album by the American new wave band Devo. It was originally released in May 1980 on the Warner Bros. label. The album contained their biggest hit, "Whip It", which hit No. 8 and No. 14 on the Billboard Club Play Singles and Pop Singles charts, respectively. Freedom of Choice peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.


According to the band's commentary on The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD, the lyrics of "Whip It" began as a tongue-in-cheek anthem for then-president Jimmy Carter. The lyrics were also inspired by Norman Vincent Peale's 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking and the "can do philosophy" espoused within.[3] Devo co-songwriter and bass guitarist Gerald 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".[4]

"Mr. B's Ballroom" is a lyrically re-written version of an earlier relationship-focused song called "Luv & Such", later released on the Rhino Handmade two-disc rarities collection Recombo DNA in 2000. The lyric of "That's Pep!" is based on an early 20th-century poem by Grace G. Bostwick.[5]

In 1995, the band recorded a new version of "Girl U Want" for the film Tank Girl. An alternate demo version of Freedom of Choice was released on Recombo DNA. This 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 "Turn Around" and three unreleased tracks ("Luv & Such", "Time Bomb" and "Make Me Move").[6]

In 2009, another demo surfaced entitled "Red Shark". This was an early version of "It's Not Right" with alternate lyrics and was offered as a download-only track for fans who purchased tickets to the Freedom of Choice album concerts.[7]


Freedom of Choice was recorded between October 1979 and early 1980, at the Record Plant in Hollywood, California. The album saw the band moving in more of an overt synthpop direction, even though guitars still played a prominent role.

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


Devo produced three music videos for the album. "Whip It" was based on a 1962 issue of Dude magazine that lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh had found in an antique store. The magazine contained a story about a dude ranch where the owner would whip his wife's clothes off. The video also played on the popular misconception that the song was about sadomasochism.[3] "Girl U Want" saw the band performing on a television set in front of a live audience. The colors of the video were heavily saturated. In "Freedom of Choice", the band appeared as aliens. This video also featured professional skateboarders of the day.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[9]
Smash Hits6/10[10]
Spin Alternative Record Guide7/10[11]
The Village VoiceB+[12]

The album received very positive reviews upon release and is widely regarded as one of their finest efforts. In a 1981 review, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice quipped that "if they ever teach a rhythm box to get funky, a Mothersbaugh will be there to plug it in."[12] Writing in Trouser Press, critics Scott Isler and Ira Robbins described the album as "the band's most evocative pairing of words and music".[13] AllMusic's Steve Huey praised the album, calling it "their most cohesive, consistent material to date".[2]

The popularity of "Whip It" garnered the band several television appearances, including The Merv Griffin Show,[14] American Bandstand and two appearances on the sketch comedy and variety show Fridays. A planned appearance on The Midnight Special was canceled when host Lily Tomlin saw the video for "Whip It" and objected to the content.[3]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Girl U Want"Mark Mothersbaugh, Gerald Casale2:55
2."It's Not Right"M. Mothersbaugh2:20
3."Whip It"M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:37
4."Snowball"M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:28
5."Ton o' Luv"G. Casale2:29
6."Freedom of Choice"M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale3:28
Side two
7."Gates of Steel"G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, Sue Schmidt, Debbie Smith[15]3:26
8."Cold War"Bob Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:30
9."Don't You Know"M. Mothersbaugh2:14
10."That's Pep!"M. Mothersbaugh2:17
11."Mr. B's Ballroom"M. Mothersbaugh2:45
12."Planet Earth"G. Casale2:45
Total length:32:14

Additional tracks

Bonus tracks on CD releases
  • In 1993, Virgin Records paired Freedom of Choice with Devo's fifth album, Oh, No! It's Devo, and issued them together on one CD with two bonus tracks: "Turnaround" (the B-side of the "Whip It" single) and "Peek-a-Boo! (Dance Velocity)" (a remix issued as the A-side of the "Peek-a-Boo!" 12" single).
  • In 2008, the album was digitally remastered and released as part of the box set This is the Devo Box in Japan.
  • In 2009, the album was digitally remastered for the first time in the United States and re-released on CD by Warner Bros.. Released on November 3, the "Deluxe Remastered Edition" CD included the DEV-O Live mini-album as bonus tracks:
13."Freedom of Choice Theme Song" (Live)M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:46
14."Whip It" (Live)M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:41
15."Girl U Want" (Live)M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:56
16."Gates of Steel" (Live)G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, Schmidt, Smith3:17
17."Be Stiff" (Live)G. Casale, Robert Lewis2:50
18."Planet Earth" (Live)G. Casale2:32
  • On December 23, 2009, Warner Bros. issued the Ultra Devo-Lux Ltd. Edition box set.[16] This box included the "Deluxe Remastered Edition" CDs of both Freedom of Choice and Devo's first album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!. In addition to the aforementioned DEV-O Live mini-album, Freedom of Choice also included three additional bonus tracks:
19."Snowball" (Demo)M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:49
20."Gates of Steel" (Demo)G. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh, Schmidt, Smith3:28
21."Time Bomb" (Demo)M. Mothersbaugh, G. Casale2:54

All three tracks had been previously released on the compilation album Recombo DNA, although this version of "Time Bomb" includes an alternate vocal track sung by Gerald Casale.


Credits adapted from Pioneers Who Got Scalped: The Anthology CD liner notes.[17]


Credits adapted from the original album's liner notes:[18]


  • Devo – producer
  • Robert Margouleff – producer, engineer
  • Howard Siegal – engineer
  • Karat Faye – assistant engineer
  • Ken Perry – mastering
  • Artrouble – album cover



Region Certification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[27] Platinum 15,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


The Freedom of Choice tour was the most ambitious Devo tour up to this time, with dates in Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Canada.[28] While the stage set was still relatively minimalist in keeping with previous performances, the stage was now illuminated by industrial walls and towers with flashing lights. In addition to the infamous red energy dome hats, the band also wore new Tyvek costumes, consisting of grey shirts and pants with long red strips of tape attached to them. Later in the set, Devo donned red, triangular vinyl vests, each one emblazoned with a letter of the band's name in yellow (as well as a hyphen), which can also be seen in the promotional video for "Freedom of Choice".

For the May dates the group wore white button shirts and pants, along with the Energy Dome,[29] but from June onward they wore more traditional white radiation suits with red sellotape over in a cross formation.[30]

The Freedom of Choice tour was captured on several different releases. The first was a promotional LP of an almost complete gig from August 16 at the Fox Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, part of the ongoing Warner Bros. Music Show series. This performance was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show.[31] Shortly thereafter, a distilled version of that LP appeared as the DEV-O Live mini-album, containing six tracks from the album. In 2000, Rhino Handmade issued a limited edition CD of Dev-o Live, containing both the mini-album and the LP on one disc.

In 2005, a performance from the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, California from the following night was issued as Devo Live 1980.[28] This was released in DualDisc format, with one side containing the show in DVD format and the other containing an edited version of the show's audio in CD format.

Tour Dates[32]
Dates Venue Notes
May 8 Ohtemon Hall, Fukuoka, Japan The group had performed here during their Q: Are We Not Men? tour the previous year
May 9 Mainichi Hall, Osaka, Japan
May 10 Shibuya Public Hall, Tokyo, Japan
May 11 Nippon Seinenkan Hall, Tokyo, Japan
May 12 Tsubaki House, Tokyo, Japan This was a secret show
May 13 Yubin Chokin Hall, Tokyo, Japan This show was broadcast on FM Radio.
May 14 Aichi-ken Kinro Hall, Nagoya, Japan
May 15 Kyoto Education Culture Center, Kyoto, Japan Originally scheduled at Kanagawa Kenmin Hall in Yokohama, Japan.
May 16 Miyagi Kenmin Hall, Sendai, Japan
May 23 Fridays, Los Angeles, CA Devo's first appearance on the TV show "Fridays", they performed "Girl U Want" and "Gates Of Steel"
May ?? American Bandstand, Hollywood, CA TV Appearance, the group perform "Snowball"
June 1 Apollo Theatre, Glasgow, United Kingdom
June 2 Odeon Theatre, Birmingham, United Kingdom Devo performed at these venues during their Q: Are We Not Men? tour
June 5 Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, United Kingdom
June 6 Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom
June 7 Apollo Theatre, Manchester, United Kingdom
June 8 Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, United Kingdom
June 9 Gaumont Theatre, Southampton, United Kingdom
June 10 The Venue, London, United Kingdom
June 12 Le Collaro Show, Paris, France Television appearance, the group lip sync to "Girl U Want"
June 13 Wartburg Music Hall, Wiesbaden, Germany
June 14 Circus Krone, Munich, Germany Originally scheduled for Schwabinger Bräu
June 16 Volkshaus, Zurich, Switzerland
June 17 Palalido, Milan, Italy Originally scheduled for Velodromo Vigorelli
June 19 Stadio Romeo Neri, Rimini, Italy
June 20 Palasport, Bologna, Italy Kaos Rock opened.
June 21 Quasar, Perugia, Italy
June 22 Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy This concert was shot for Italian TV.
June 23 Palasport Primo Carnera, Udine, Italy Kaos Rock opened
June 24 Palasport Ruffini, Turin, Italy
June 25 Théâtre De Verdure, Nice, France
June 26 Koninklijk Theater Carré, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June 27 Palais D'Hiver, Boulogne-Billancourt, France Richard Pinhas opened
July 10 Oriental Theatre, Milwaukee, WI
July 11 Great Northern Music Hall, Grand Rapids, MI Penetration in the Centerfold dropped for the setlist
July 12 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL Devo played there the previous year, on their Duty Now For The Future tour.
July 14 Motor City Roller Rink, Detroit, MI
July 15 Danforth Music Hall Theatre, Toronto, ON, Canada Devo performed twice on this date. The Sharks opened.
July 16 Triangle Theater, Rochester, NY Devo played there the previous year, on their Duty Now For The Future tour.
July 17 Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA This show was broadcast on FM radio.
July 18 Stage West, West Hartford, CT
July 19 Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ Utopia opened.
July 21 Wollman Skating Rink, Central Park, New York, NY This show was broadcast on FM radio. WKGB Opened
July 23 Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA Devo played there the previous year, on their Duty Now For The Future tour.
July 25 Calderone Concert Hall, Hempstead, NY
July 26 Fitchburg Theater, Fitchburg, MA
July 27 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD Urban Verbs opened
July 28 Premier Theater, Norfolk, VA
July 30 Great Southern Music Hall, Orlando, FL
July 31 Bayfront Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL
August 1 Maurice Gusman Cultural Center, Miami, FL
August 2 The Bandshell, University Of Florida, Gainesville, FL
August 3 Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA The Brains opened
August 5 Brothers Music Hall, Birmingham, AL
August 6 Cullen Auditorium, University Of Houston, Houston, TX
August 7 Agora Theatre, Dallas, TX
August 8 Zebra Records, Austin, TX Unclear if this was a show or a meet and greet.
Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX Devo played there the previous year, on their Duty Now For The Future tour.
August 12 The Showbox, Seattle, WA
August 13 Kerrisdale Arena, Vancouver, BC, Canada
August 14 Paramount Theatre, Portland, OR Devo played there the previous year, on their Q: Are We Not Men? tour.
August 16 Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA This show was recorded for inclusion on their DEV-O Live EP and eventual LP.
August 17 Phoenix Theatre, Petaluma, CA This show was filmed for their Live 1980 DVD
August 19 Ben H. Lewis Hall, Raincross Square, Riverside, CA Evening show was cancelled[33]
August 20 California Theatre, San Diego, CA
August 22 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA Devo played there the previous year, on their Duty Now For The Future tour.
August 23
August 24
August 25 Ben H. Lewis Hall, Raincross Square, Riverside, CA
September 3 Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, Hollywood, CA TV appearances.
October 16 The Merv Griffin Show, Hollywood, CA
November 7 Fridays, Los Angeles, CA


  1. "Freedom of Choice Theme"
  2. "Whip It"
  3. "Snowball"
  4. "It's Not Right"
  5. "Girl U Want"
  6. "Planet Earth"
  7. "S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)"
  8. "Penetration in the Centrefold"
  9. "Secret Agent Man"
  10. "Pink Pussycat"
  11. "Blockhead"
  12. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  13. "Uncontrollable Urge"
  14. "Mongoloid"
  15. "Be Stiff"
  16. "Gates of Steel"
  17. "Freedom of Choice"
  18. "Jocko Homo"
  19. "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA"
  20. "Gut Feeling"
  21. "Slap Your Mammy"
  22. "Come Back Jonee"
  23. "Tunnel of Life"
  24. "Devo Corporate Anthem"

2009 album tour[edit]

On September 16, 2009, Warner Brothers and Devo announced CD re-releases of Freedom of Choice and Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, as well as a tour performing both albums in their entirety on back to back nights.[34] These concerts also featured stage set-ups similar to those used in 1978 and 1980 and featured the band wearing their original touring costumes.

The encore performances for the Freedom of Choice show 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).


  1. ^ Nagy, Evie (June 19, 2010). "How To Get Ahead With Advertising". Billboard.
  2. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Freedom of Choice – Devo". AllMusic. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Devo (2003). The Complete Truth About De-evolution (DVD). Rhino Home Video.
  4. ^ "Whip It". Retrieved May 5, 2009.
  5. ^ Bostwick, Grace G. (May 1924). "That's Pep!" (PDF). Ohio State Engineer. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Devo - Recombo DNA
  7. ^ Devo Demo Bundle on Grooveshark Archived March 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Devo". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  9. ^ Evans, Paul (2004). "Devo". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 232–33. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  10. ^ Starr, Red (May 29 – June 11, 1980). "Devo: Freedom of Choice". Smash Hits. Vol. 2, no. 11. p. 30.
  11. ^ Hunter, James (1995). "Devo". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 110–11. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (February 2, 1981). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Isler, Scott (1991). Robbins, Ira A. (ed.). The Trouser Press Record Guide (4th ed.). New York: Collier/Macmillan. p. 185. ISBN 0-02-036361-3. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  14. ^ Devo on The Merv Griffin Show
  15. ^ "The De-Evolution of Akron's Music", Beacon Journal, September 10, 2000, retrieved December 1, 2009
  16. ^ Ultra Devo-Lux Ltd. Edition
  17. ^ Devo (2000). Pioneers Who Got Scalped: The Anthology (CD liner notes). Rhino. R2 75967.
  18. ^ Devo (1980). Freedom of Choice (LP liner notes). Warner Bros. Records. BSK 3435.
  19. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 88. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  20. ^ "Search - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  21. ^ " – Devo – Freedom of Choice". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  22. ^ "Devo | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  23. ^ "Devo Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  24. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1980 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  25. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1981 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  26. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1981". Billboard. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  27. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Devo – Freedom Of Choice". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  28. ^ a b "DEVO Live Guide - 1980". Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  29. ^ "Devo Live Guide - 05/12/80 - Tsubaki House, Tokyo, Japan". Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  30. ^ "Devo Live Guide - 06/05/80 - Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, United Kingdom". Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  31. ^ Warners Bros. Music Show - Devo
  32. ^ "DEVO Live Guide - 1980". Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  33. ^ "BACK IN THE DAY: Riot marred 1980 Devo show in Riverside". Press Enterprise. November 1, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  34. ^ Warner Brothers and Devo press release on re-release and tour Archived January 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]