Oh, No! It's Devo

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Oh, No! It's Devo
Studio album by Devo
Released 21 October 1982
Recorded May–September 1982
Length 32:14
Producer Roy Thomas Baker
Devo chronology
New Traditionalists
Oh, No! It's Devo
Theme from Doctor Detroit
Singles from Oh No, It's Devo
  1. "Peek-a-Boo!"
    Released: 1982
  2. "That's Good"
    Released: 1983
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars link
Robert Christgau B+[1]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars link

Oh, No! It's Devo is the fifth studio album by Devo. By the time of its 1982 release, Devo were a full-fledged synth-pop act, with guitar-based New Wave sounds pushed more towards the background. Most of the music on Oh, No! was created by electronic means which gave it a much different sound than, for example, their 1978 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, which relied more on guitars than synthesizers. This alienated some fans despite the band stating since at least 1978 that their goal was to "de-emphasize" guitars. The album was produced with prominent producer Roy Thomas Baker, who had famously worked with both Queen and The Cars, among many others.

In recent interviews, Devo's Gerald Casale has stated that the album was born out of critical reviews in which the band were alternately described as both "fascists" and "clowns."[2] In response, the band decided to make an album that would answer the question, "what would an album by fascist clowns sound like?" [3] According to a 1982 interview with frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, the album was titled Oh, No! It's Devo because "there are many people out there who, when they hear we're around again or have one more album coming out, that is their reaction."[4]

The song "I Desire" brought the band controversy because the lyrics were taken from a poem written by John Hinckley, Jr. (the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in a bid to impress actress Jodie Foster).[5] "Big Mess" was inspired by a series of letters sent to a radio disc jockey by a personality who went by the name "Cowboy Kim" and who was believed to be a sufferer of schizophrenia.[6]

Cover artwork[edit]

Devo took on another new look for this album, wearing black t-shirts and slacks with white "Spud Ring" collars. In concert, these were augmented with Energy domes, and the New Traditionalists shirts and ascots for part of the performance. The LP jacket had a cutout stand on the back so it could be stood up like a picture frame.

Promotional music videos[edit]

Devo produced three music videos for the album: "Time Out For Fun," "Peek-A-Boo!" and "That's Good." All three videos eschewed Devo's previous narrative style for a basic performance against a bluescreen background displaying related visuals to the song. These were intended to replicate the band's intentions for the forthcoming tour for those who would be unable to attend. The video for "That's Good" ran into censorship troubles on MTV. The juxtaposition of the image of a cartoon of a french fry penetrating the hole of a doughnut then quickly cut to a writhing, smiling nude woman, shot from the neck up, was considered too risque for airplay.


Devo's tour for the album replicated the look they sported in the music videos for at least the first half of the concert. Each concert began with Devo playing seven songs from the album that were performed against a 12-foot, rear-projected background which presented synchronized video. For several songs, members of the band interacted with the visuals, such as being kicked down by a giant pirate at the end of "Peek-A-Boo," or shooting icons of unsynchronized dancing girls in "Out of Sync." After the R.P. screen was removed it revealed Devo being lit by computerized moving lighting effects with Panaspots provided by Morpheus Lights. The 'Oh no, It's Devo Tour' was the second concert tour known to utilize computerized moving lights about one year after Genesis used 50 VariLites (VL1's) on their Abacab Tour, which started on September 25, 1981. While Genesis went for an impressively big, colorful 'Christmas tree full of lights' look, Devo made the most of their theatrical 'less is more' approach to stage lighting.

The first show of the tour on October 30, 1982 at the Warner Beverly Hills Theater in Beverly Hills, California, was filmed and transmitted live in 3-D to college campuses around the country. It was billed as 3-DEVO, and featured Wall of Voodoo as an opening act. However, this performance was marred by technical mishaps. The film went out of sync with the backing track during "Speed Racer," forcing the band to abandon the performance of "Big Mess." Mark's wireless microphone cut out during "Out of Sync" and he was forced to perform the rest of the first set with Bob Motherbaugh's microphone. Plus, during the performance of "Peek-a-Boo!", a fangirl walked up onto the stage and started dancing with the band, therefore being broadcast in front of the visuals. In the second half of the show, the 3-D effects were ineffective and the band attacked the company providing the video twice, once during "Jocko Homo," with a series of cheap 3-D tricks (mostly Snake nut cans) by Mothersbaugh, and once in a rant during "Beautiful World," delivered by Booji Boy. This concert was the only time Devo ever performed the song "Explosions" live.[citation needed]

The 3-DEVO concert was later rebroadcast in a severely edited form on Pay-Per-View television, omitting the snide remarks and the technical gaffes. Both versions are available as bootlegs, and several audio recordings of the tour exist in varying quality.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald V. Casale, except where noted. 

Side one
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
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Patterns"     2:57
7. "Big Mess"     2:42
8. "Speed Racer"   Mothersbaugh 2:38
9. "What I Must Do"     2:34
10. "I Desire"  
11. "Deep Sleep"     3:24
Total length:
Additional tracks



Guest vocalist[edit]

  • Annerose Bucklers – background vocals on "Deep Sleep"

Production team[edit]

  • Gordon Fordyce – engineer
  • Erik Arnesen – cover photography
  • DEVO INC. – graphic concept
  • Rick Seireeni – art direction
  • "Spudring" manufactured by Brent Scrivner

Chart performance[edit]

Peak position[edit]

Chart Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 57
New Zealand Albums Chart[8] 10
U.S. Billboard 200 Chart[9] 47


External links[edit]