Friday, March 7, 2008

Devo - E-Z Listening Muzak Cassettes, Vol's 1 & 2 (1981 & 1984)

I loves me some Devo; Always have, always will.

Back in those painfully awkward teen years, Devo came along at just the right time.
It was genuinely helpful to have a bold example declaring it was okay to be an outsider - - or even better, to just follow your passions and leave any sort of group identification behind.

And -duh- their music kicked serious ass.

Devo's 4th LP, 'New Traditionalists', came out in 1981.

(Just for kicks, there's the cover art to the German pressing ►)

There were new additions to the fan club merchandise being offered in the ads on the album's inner sleeve.

As well as the latest crop of Devo fashion accessories, now they were hawking the 'limited edition' Muzak cassette.

("Gee, remember cassettes?")

The legend is that these 'devolved' instrumental versions of their hits were played as background music before their concerts.

(click on image to ENLARGE ▼)

The muzak cassettes were an acquired taste for many of the Devotees; some hung with it and some didn't.

Certainly the music was playful and fun, and it fit right in with the band's persona, if not their customary energy level.

The sound was also fairly telling of things to come. It was generally around that same period that Devo members began delving into soundtrack music, and the 'Lounge Revival' of the '90's was still a decade away.

I loved the nods to surf music, tracks that sounded like an opening theme to a Soap Opera, and the general 'raw and lo-fi' quality.

Their reprise of 'Satisfaction' was notable, too, as they finally used the Stones' guitar riff that they hadn't in their original cover treatment.

From Devo's
'E-Z Listening Muzak' Cassette,
(Vol. 1 -1981)
Listen to:

Come Back Jonee
Space Junk
Jocko Homo
S.I.B. (Swelling, Itching Brain)
Whip It
Girl U Want
Pity You
It's A Beautiful World

(click for audio - - or see zipfile link below ▼)

A second 'E-Z' cassette came in 1984, still only available via mail order.

Newer material, a noticeable advance in technology, less of a raw, 'underground' quality, but still great fun.

From Devo's
'E-Z Listening Muzak, Volume 2'
Cassette, (1984)
Listen to:

Gates Of Steel
That's Good
Jerkin' Back And Forth
Shout ► (version not included on CD release)
Fourth Dimension
Goin' Under
Time Out For Fun
Jurisdiction Of Luv
Shout (Hello Kitty)

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 20 tracks from both tapes in one 66.7 Mb zipfile.

The tracks from the Devo Muzak cassettes were shuffled and released commercially on CD in 1987, but that disc has sadly gone out of print.

See also:
- An interesting (if grainy) live concert video clip from 1982; Devo performs a vocal version of 'Girl U Want' with an 'E-Z Listening' arrangement

- Previously linked, 'Are You Not DEVO? You are Mutato - - How Mark Mothersbaugh, an Agent of
De-Evolution, wormed his way into America’s subconscious'
- - An article / interview from the
LA Weekly, December 5, 2007

- Mark Mothersbaugh's Mutato Muzika

- Club Devo

- 'Jocko-Homo Heavenbound', the inspiration for Devo's 'Jocko Homo'


Timmy said...

Never went to see them during thier hayday, I regret that. BUT>>> Did go & saw them at a nicely sized club in the L.A. area, about 2 years ago. All original members. GREAT vibrancy, quality, substenance. My friens bought one of thier
"doll packs".

Stefing said...

I saw them at Sheffield City Hall, England, and yes, the muzak of legend was gently noodling away in the background before the gig.
I wonder how long it will be before Polysics release some E-Z listening music?

The In Crowd said...

Hey, Brit Swede Guy - -

Thanks for the verification, and a great question regarding Polysics!

Your blogs look very intriguing, btw. Must investigate further!

Anonymous said...

Nice post, great scans of the artwork!

Chelseagirl said...

oh, my word
thank you so much for this! I just adore Mark Mothersbaugh and get such a kick out of Devo's doings.

I remember them from the first time around, gah, but I didn't 'get' it then. Although it's hard not to get the fun, catchy tunes, I guess.



Made in DNA said...

Thanks a million! But may I recommend you put the zip file at the top. I was busy downloading all the files when I discovered it. HAHAHAHAHA! f(^^;

Polysics is a fantastic group. I live in Japan, so I am hoping to catch them in concert sometime soon. They are obviously Devo inspired.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you so much! I used to have Vol 1 which my girlfriend brought home from New York, but it's long gone...Been trying to find somewhere to buy this and here it is...Thanks again *S*

Stuart Gardner said...

I'm so happy to find these posted on the web; thanks very much. Your blog is new to me but I can see that there's much more here I'll enjoy, as well.
I ordered each cassette as soon as it was offered, and over the years they naturally wore out. I also bought the CD the day it debuted, and as you point out it omits Shout, and you've made it possible for me to hear that track for the first time in many years. The CD does contain Shout (Hello Kitty), which I thought had not been on the original cassette; was I mistaken about that?
Another question. Did you actually take 4th Dimension from the cassette, or, for the purpose of greater sound quality, did you use the E-Z Listening CD?
I ask because I've always remembered loving the long fade on the cassette version, and being disappointed and puzzled when I first heard the CD because it faded out sooner, yet your upload and the CD version seem to be of equal length.
Again, sincere thanks! This is wonderful stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Very cool. I thank you

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