Devo

Be Stiff [EP]

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Stiff Records launched Devo in Britain in 1978, combining the company's customary gift for imaginative promotion with the Akron band's own distinctly bizarre outlook and sound. Certainly few people outside of Akron itself had heard anything remotely approaching the band's debut 45, coupling "Mongoloid" and the self-mythologizing "Jocko Homo," and long before the band's debut album arrived (in another year, on a different label), the chorus demand of "are we not men?" had established itself among the most pervasive chants of the year. A furiously mutated version of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" followed, this time catching the same breeze that had just blown in the Residents' even more distorted rendition, and finally, "Be Stiff" emerged to both eulogize the band's U.K. label and title the company's own next marketing push -- all five acts featured in the upcoming Stiff label tour (Wreckless Eric, Rachel Sweet, Jona Lewie, Mickey Jupp, and Lene Lovich) recorded versions of the anthem for a Stiff label promo. Devo themselves, however, were stiffs no longer; those three 45s remained their sole output for the label (and, some might say, remain their best records ever), and thus lent themselves perfectly to a six-song (A- and B-sides) 12" EP titled for the final single but packed with highlights from start to finish.