Ahhh, Devo. One of the finest musical accomplishments of the 80s, in my own humble opinion. Mixing the robotic bleeps and bloops of synthesizers with an energetic rock and roll sound and even elements of punk, Devo was a monstrous amagalm of epic proportions. They were a musical B2 bomber with the cargo hold filled to capacity. What did it contain, you ask? The theory of de-evolution.

A good description of Devo's theme, if you can pin one down, is this: the plight of the individual in an increasingly mechanized world and the symbiotic relationship between rational thought and irrational lust (from the historic booklet included with the new anthology, Pioneers Who Got Scalped, out on Rhino Records). The group, like many other great rock and roll bands, was full of marvelous contradictions. They stressed the importance of individuality and non-conformism, yet they all dressed the same. It was impossible to figure them out at the time, and in many ways it still is.

The greatest tragedy of the Devo saga is that their later works are completely lacking in substance as compared to their brilliant early accomplishments. They lost the all-important element of angry, hormonally-charged rock and roll and became bogged down by corny, ineffective synth sounds. Where once the synthesizer had been a tool used to enhance their sound and help to cement their vision and imagery into their music by adding a cold, robotic ingredient, it was now simply an overwhelming, cliched engine powering an outdated vehicle.

However, we will always have their early work. Anthems like "Jocko Homo", "Be Stiff", "Smart Patrol / Mr. DNA", "Beautiful World", and even the breakthrough smash (and actually rather brilliant song) "Whip It" will continue to play on the stereos of spudheads around the world as we remember the glory of a once-mighty force in the battle against a quickly approaching unsympathetic future.