Featuring the Ramones, Patti Smith, The Modern Lovers and some undiscovered treats
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
WARNER BROTHERS, 1978
Ohio art-school boppers Devo morphed into a vaguely sci-fi novelty act, scoring a major US hit with 1980’s “Whip It”, but their 1978 debut was grimmer and greyer. Produced by Brian Eno – with a little help from David Bowie – Q: Are We Not Men? fleshes out founder members Jerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh’s dystopian vision of de-evolution: mankind’s gradual descent back into ape-like idiocy. Their rinky-dink reworking of The Rolling Stones’ “…Satisfaction” symbolised the dark underpinning of their signature tune, the Frank Zappa twitch “Jocko Homo”: “We’re pinheads now, we are not whole,” Casale barks. Wholly disconcerting. JW
Ultra-slick and disco-literate, Blondie’s third album propelled US punk into another stratosphere. Regarded as lightweights by snarkier New York contemporaries, Blondie embraced their pop instincts by hiring Mike Chapman to oversee Parallel Lines, with the Sweet and Suzi Quatro producer corralling an odd ragbag of material – there are writing credits for five of the band’s six members, plus three cover versions – into a cogent whole. “Heart Of Glass” gave them a No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic, but the more nuanced “11:59” and “Fade Away And Radiate” hold their own amid a glut of hits. JW
18 JOHNNY THUNDERS
Recorded in London after The Heartbreakers’ dissolution, Thunders and co-producer Steve Lillywhite assembled a veritable supergroup for his solo debut: the core is Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook and Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on bass, with backing spots for Steve Marriott, Chrissie Hynde, The Only Ones’ Peter Perrett, and Heartbreakers Walter Lure and Billy Rath. Built around Thunders’ brawling guitar and endless love of rock’n’roll, doo wop, R’n’B, surf tunes and girl groups, it’s a swaggering, trashy, magnificently messy affair but spiked with surprisingly tender, painful introspection as in the masterly epitaph, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”. DL