Category: duty now for the future

On this day in music history: June 11, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: June 11, 1979 – “Duty Now For The Future”, the second album by Devo is released. Produced by Ken Scott and Devo, it is recorded at Chateau Recorders in Hollywood, CA from September 1978 – Early 1979. Less than a month after their debut album “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” is in stores, Devo quickly begin recording the follow up. The band work with Ken Scott, best known for his work with The Beatles, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. Much of the material on “Duty” has been performed live since 1976, penned mostly by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale (with writing contributions from Bob Casale (aka “Bob 1”) ). The lone cover is of Johnny Rivers’ 60’s classic “Secret Agent Man”, featuring a guitar solo that has been distorted through microphone preamps, then fed into headphones and recorded with a mic taped to them. The album features more of an emphasis on guitars, with the band and Scott employing various techniques to alter their texture and sound. The opening track “Devo Corporate Anthem” is inspired in part by the sci-fi film “Rollerball”. The cover for “Duty Now For The Future” is designed graphic artist Janet Perr (Cyndi Lauper, Run DMC), satirizing the use of UPC codes (Universal Product Code), on the back of album covers. At the time of their inception, many musicians feel they distract from carefully conceived artwork, and stand out like a sore thumb. However, Devo respond by having them positioned all over the front and back of the colorful album cover, reacting to the “Orwellian” look of the UPC symbols. The original covers feature an illustration of the band in the center, that is perforated and can be removed. Issued only ten and a half months after their debut, the initial reaction to “Duty” is largely mixed from both fans and critics. Many feel that it is “transitional” and darker, lacking the same type of humor and tongue in cheek attitude of the first album. Though in time, it is re-evaluated and is regarded as a “seminal new wave synthpop album”, and one of Devo’s best. Other tracks like “The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize”, “Pink Pussycat” and “Smart Patrol”/“Mr. DNA” all become part of the band’s classic canon, and are performed live frequently in later years. Largely neglected by Warner Bros. due to its meager original sales, the album isn’t reissued on CD until 1991, with subsequent reissues in 1994 (w/ two bonus tracks), and 2010 (w/ five bonus tracks). Out of print on vinyl since its original release, it is also reissued briefly in 2010, and again in 2019 as part of the limited edition Record Store Day release “This Is The Devo Box”. The latter is pressed on purple vinyl, matching the shade of the LP’s inner sleeve. “Duty Now For The Future” peaks at number seventy three on the Billboard Top 200.

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