Following the runaway success of Freedom Of Choice, Devo got back into the studio to record a followup. Right off the bat, Devo had made a song to attack those kids who didn't get Whip It, and turned it into a hip, slick, meaningless pop song. The new message was loud, clear, and light on the irony - Devo was Through Being Cool.
New Traditionalists came with a new visual identity for Devo as well. The red Energy Domes were out. The band now wore black, plastic New Traditionalist Pomps hairdoos, modeled after John F. Kennedy's hair. The yellow suits were a memory. Devo dressed in gray slacks, dress shirts, and black dress shoes. They looked like Young Republicans. They were ready to sling back the feces thrown by Reagan America.
Of course, the recording of the album had problems. Devo was using a new digital recording studio to record the album (very impressive for 1981), and in post-production, the high end of the album essentially disappeared. Warner Brothers, their label, refused to let Devo rerecord the album, as they needed it out quickly to capitalize on Whip It's success. Without the high end, the album sounded slick and dance club ready, which was probably not what they were going for, but what they were stuck with.
Furthermore, the shift from guitars to synthesizers which began with Duty Now For The Future, was nearly complete. Guitar was subdued and put in the background, though some tracks contained great riffs. The synthesizers took the lead, firmy solidifying Devo's position as New Wave pioneers. The album was a minor dance club hit, but not as commercially successful as Freedom Of Choice.
Devo launched their biggest tour yet for the New Traditionalists album. Devo would perform on treadmills, in front of a Greek temple type of arrangement. Behind each member, a backlit screen showed related images to the song. The New Traditionalists tour was filmed, but an electrical short forced Devo to scrap it as an insurance claim. Some bootleg videos of the tour, however, do exist.
New Traditionalists was released on twelve inch vinyl, and originally included a poster, and a 45 single of Working In A Coal Mine, which Devo had recorded during the Freedom Of Choice sessions, and was later used in the film Heavy Metal. The Infinite Zero release of the album also included some B-Sides from the era as bonus tracks, as well as Working In A Coal Mine.
- Through Being Cool
- Jerkin' Back and Forth
- Pity You
- Soft Things
- Going Under
- Race Of Doom
- Love Without Anger
- The Super Thing
- Beautiful World
- Enough Said
Infinite Zero Re-release Bonus Tracks:
- Working In A Coal Mine
- Mecha-Mania Boy
- Nu-Tra Speaks (New Traditionalist Man)