Oh, No! It's Devo

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: 1982
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic link
Robert ChristgauB+[1]
Rolling Stone link

Oh, No! It's Devo is the fifth studio album by the American new wave band Devo. It was originally released in October 1982, on the labels Warner Bros., and Virgin. The album was recorded over a period of four months between May and September 1982. By the time of its 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! It's Devo 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 co-founder and bass guitarist Gerald Casale had 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]

The song "I Desire" brought the band controversy because the lyrics were taken directly from a poem written by John Hinckley, Jr. (who had attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan, as the culmination of an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster).[4] "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.[5]

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.

Album title

According to a 1982 interview with lead singer 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."[6]

Promotional music videos

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 risqué for airplay. In an interview with band member and video director Gerald Casale for the book Devo's Freedom of Choice,

"We got this call from [MTV co-founder] Les Garland, He was like, 'Look, we know what you're trying to do here.' I go, What do you mean? He goes, 'Ya know, when that cartoon French fry glides through that cartoon donut and then it's with the girl looking happy. You can have the French fry, or you can have the donut, but you can't have the French fry and the donut, Otherwise, you can't cut to the girl.' And I go, 'But what about when the French fry hits the donut and breaks in half and she's sad?' And he goes 'Alright you little smart ass.' It was horrible. Then I go, 'What about that Billy Idol video you have and the girls are in skin-tight pants and their asses are full on in the screen and his head is between her legs and then somebody slaps her ass? What about that?' He goes, 'we're talking about you, we're not talking about them." Casale eventually relented and made significant cuts to the video, which he regrets because by then, "the song was going down in the charts, not up."


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 Mothersbaugh's microphone cut out during "Out of Sync" and he was forced to perform the rest of the first set with guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh'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 the character Booji Boy. This concert was the only time Devo ever performed the song "Explosions" live.

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

All tracks written by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald 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. TitleWriter(s) Length
6. "Patterns"    2:57
7. "Big Mess"    2:42
8. "Speed Racer"  Mark Mothersbaugh 2:38
9. "What I Must Do"    2:34
10. "I Desire"   3:13
11. "Deep Sleep"    3:24
Total length:
Additional tracks


Guest vocalist
  • Annerose Bucklers – backing vocals on "Deep Sleep"
Production team
  • Gordon Fordyce – engineering
  • Erik Arnesen – cover photography
  • DEVO INC. – graphic concept
  • Rick Seireeni – art direction
  • "Spudring" manufactured by Brent Scrivner

Chart performance

Peak position

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


External links

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