Devo's fifth album, Oh, No! It's Devo!, released in 1982, was a sort of split between the art school aesthetic of Devo's earlier albums, and an attempt to pull together another Whip It style hit. New Traditionalists, while mildly successful, failed to provide another hit single for the band, and Warner was not happy. Devo brought in Roy Thomas Baker as an outside producer to assist with the album. This was the first time since Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! that Devo had let someone else produce their album. (Freedom Of Choice was co-produced with Robert Margouleff.)
Baker turned Devo's sound into slick synthpop, further pushing the guitar into the background, in many songs, and in others, either limiting it to simple licks, or using it through a synthesizer. The songs were made dancable, and the odd time signatures of early Devo songs were simplified for easy dancing. Alan Myers, now playing electronic drums, was further augmented with a drum machine.
Devo's new look was as clean and simple as the music. Devo members dressed in solid black, with a white Spud Collar around their neck. On the cover of the album, Devo appeared with their heads (and collars) superimposed on top of images of hovering potatoes. Mark Mothersbaugh also wore a pair of plastic novelty glasses called Chop Suey Specs, but with the flesh colored lens inserts removed. (Chop Suey Specs had been used by Devo in the past, by Gerald V. Casale in his early Chinaman character.)
This clean look followed to the music videos, which eschewed the complex sets of previous videos for rear projected visuals. Devo performed against the animated backgrops, in a simulation of what was planned for the upcoming tour. In this tour, Devo performed in front of a large rear projection video system, on which synchronized video would play along with the band. Occasionally, the band and video would interact, such as at the end of Peek-A-Boo, where a giant pirate would kick down members of the band.
Unfortunately, Devo ran into technical issues with this system. It was awkward, and difficult to use, and finally broke when Devo was set to play a special 3-D concert over the Campus Entertainment Network. Devo would perform live at a concert, which was then broadcast to college campuses across the country, in 3-D. Unfortunately, the 3-D effects didn't work, and furthermore, the video went out of sync with the music. Pissed with how the show was going, Mark Mothersbaugh went off on the people behind the show twice. Once during Jocko Homo, and once as his Booji Boy character during Beautiful World. The footage from the show was later edited down (making sure to edit out Mark's comments) for pay-per-view cable television. Bootlegs of the complete show, including opening act Wall Of Voodoo are available.
At another show on the tour, Devo was arrested when the auditorium they were performing in was overcrowded. It, of course, didn't help that Gerald V. Casale cried out to the crowd to back from the stage or "the piggies will take Devo away." While spending the night in prison, Devo was heckled, and asked to sing Whip It for the occupants of the drunk tank.
Devo also ran into issues with the song I Desire. Devo had originally planned to have poets and friends write lyrics for the album. This idea was later scrapped, but Devo decided to do one song based on a poem by would-be Reagan assasinator John Hinckley. I Desire was the result. The FBI tried to block the release of the album and the song, claiming it might inspire copycat attacks, and link Hinckley style psycopaths to Devo. The album, however, was released on time.
Oh, No! It's Devo was a commercial flop, producing no hit singles. The song Peek-A-Boo had moderate success with its music video, but the other two videos made for the album were blocked from being aired on television.
Sadly, Oh, No! It's Devo! was the begining of the end of Devo's relationship with Warner Brothers. Devo was given one last album to try and pull themselves together and get a hit.
Oh, No! It's Devo! was released on vinyl with a special cutout on the back side so that it could be stood up like a picture frame. The Infinite Zero re-release added two remixes of Peek-A-Boo and the b-side from the twelve inch single, as well as a studio outtake from the era, and two remixes of the song Here To Go, the original of which appeared on the next album, Shout
- Time Out For Fun
- Out Of Sync!
- That's Good
- Big Mess
- Speed Racer
- What I Must Do
- I Desire
- Deep Sleep
Infinite Zero Re-Release Bonus Tracks:
- Part Of You
- Find Out
- Peek-A-Boo (Dance Velocity)
- Peek-A-Boo (Devo Dub)
- Here To Go (Go Mix Version)
- Here To Go (Here To Dub Version)