Chris: Alright Jon, the moment has finally come.
Chris: We are talking about Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo.
Jon: The shit we know and love. And everyone also knows and loves.
Chris: Haha yep. This was the first Devo I consciously heard.
Jon: Oh wow! You went chronologically?
Chris: I’d probably heard whip it before, but this was the first one I actually listened to.
Jon: Oh fair enough. I think I heard like, stuff off Freedom of Choice or Oh No! It’s Devo.
Chris: I didn’t listen to this chronologically by myself. In the health food store where I worked as a teenager my co-worker played this a lot. And he was in complete control of the music. And this was the only Devo he played. So I got familiar/interested in them from that.
Jon: Oh right! Your personal curator. Solid source.
Chris: Exactly. Very helpful. I think he’s a DJ in chapel hill now. When did you first hear Q&A?
Jon: I think I dug in a few years after hearing Whip It / seeing my sister’s “Men Who Make The Music” VHS, in high school. I picked up those poorly mastered double-album CDs, one of which was Q&A and the Live EP.
Chris: Oh interesting, I’ve never heard that version.
Jon: It’s just kinda thin. When I picked up the albums as LPs I was like OH there’s bass, at all, in these songs.
Chris: Haha gotcha. And this album has some great bass lines.
Jon: It definitely does.
Chris: I heard the live EP stuff only much later in a remastered form. Did that color your impression of this album? The fact that the sound wasn’t great?
Jon: Nah, the songs were still solid as hell / weird in a way I was all about at fifteen. https://web.archive.org/web/20040711083128/http://www.clubdevo.com:80/mp_redesign/tellus.html Devo’s thoughts on those comps are here, toward the bottom.
Chris: Right, makes sense. That’s interesting too, that it latched on at that time. I wish it had for me, honestly. I mean, it did, but I fought it lol. I thought, “this is good, but it’s not REAL good, so I’m going to pass it by” Basically because it overwhelmed me and clashed with whatever pet persona I was developing at the time.
Jon: Aw. Yeah to be honest I was more into my New Traditionalists/Duty Now comp.
Chris: Yeah I feel you. What an interesting combo. Usually they combine albums closer in proximity. BUT. A conversation for a later time, perhaps.
Jon: Indeed, haha.
Chris: Right now we’re still on Q&A.
Jon: Wanna count off Uncontrollable Urge?
Chris: Yeah, let’s get down to it. We’re talking Uncontrollable Urge in 3. 2. 1. Now!
Jon: Urgency, right away.
Chris: Such a solid first song.
Jon: We are a nervous band. Buckle in, listen to our ramblings.
Chris: Yeah there’s a propulsion to it, but in a different way than the standard 70s rockers. The lyrics are sexual but not necessarily happy about it.
Jon: Yeah. A song about OCD like tendencies that sounds like those tendencies somehow.
Chris: Yes! It sounds like jittery, almost falling over dancing. While still being incredibly tight.
Jon: Yeah. And in verse 2 he kinda abandons the expected melody. More uncontrollability. Or a real word.
Chris: Haha. Also interesting is the low presence of the synth.
Jon: Yeah! It just kinda chimes in toward the end like, hey guys. Clang beep.
Chris: Yeah. It has big moments, but the driving factors are guitars/drums. This big build. Then boom, out.
Jon: I love how it kinda sets up Satisfaction almost.
Jon: Like aaaaaaand (cool drum beat for song 2).
Chris: The last thing we heard is a bass note.
Jon: Flows very well, at least from what I remember.
Jon: I kinda wish they’d worked with Eno more, this album has a great sound to it.
Jon: Not to credit him solely.
Chris: Yeah, I hear that.
Jon: But, who doesn’t love Eno.
Chris: I do love Eno. The song goes from that lone bass note into lone drums.
Jon: Oh good point.
Chris: This album doesn’t sound like any other Devo albums.
Jon: Very true. I even like the Coldplay record he did with that obnoxious song that was everywhere.
Chris: Oh which Coldplay one did he do?
Jon: Viva La Vida.
Chris: Ahhh right. I half remember the single.
Jon: Devo la Devo, though.
Chris: 😁 I think bowie was also interested in producing this? That would have been interesting.
Jon: I have heard that! Yeah I wonder how it’d have gone. I like that he was an admirer, though.
Chris: Yeah for sure.
Jon: Did you ever hear the DEV2.0 version of this?
Chris: No I haven’t.
Jon: An adolescent girl singing yah yah yah yah yahyahyahyah etc. It is super super weird. And I think they changed the lyrics to be about snacking.
Chris: Oh wait! We did hear that. When we went to that Harvard movie night.
Jon: Oh shit that’s true. DEV2.0 was such a goddamn bizarre thing, but completely on brand.
Chris: Haha yeah. Devo + Disney. You’re like, What? And then you realize what they did. And you nod.
Jon: Two great tastes that taste great together! Like peanut butter and thumbtacks.