Virgin combined two of Devo's early albums, Duty Now for the Future and New Tradtionalists, on one disc in 1994. Most of the aural weirdness on Duty Now for the Future comes from the band's experiments with homemade synthesizer technology. As a result, both the guitars and jerky rhythms play a lesser role in their sound. Although it isn't quite as interesting, it's still appropriately strange, and Devo still doesn't sound quite like anyone else. Duty is loosely structured around the theme of everyday corporate drudgery and its effects on individuals. Pegged as a novelty act after the mainstream success of "Whip It" and "Freedom of Choice," Devo apparently decided to emphasize their underlying ideas about American culture as an antidote. From the opening statement of purpose, "Through Being Cool," New Traditionalists presents those views in a more straightforward way, with the unfortunate result that Devo is not nearly as absurdly amusing or interesting. The band often comes off as heavy-handed (pointing out on the otherwise terrific "Beautiful World" that the lyrics are intended to be ironic, just in case you didn't get the rather obvious point), as though they want to make Serious Artistic Statements -- but this isn't how Devo's best music works. Furthermore, the band's tendencies toward minimalistic, synth-centered arrangements and melodic deficiencies are much more pronounced here, making the music itself less interesting. New Traditionalists does have some very worthwhile moments, but it is disappointing, and it marks the beginning of the band's decline.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey