Over the years, Devo has been the subject of countless 'best of' sets (1990s Greatest Hits, 1993's Hot Potatoes, etc.), and in 2002, another hits collection appeared, as part of Rhino Records' budget priced The Essentials series. Although there has already been one moderately priced Devo collection issued already (1998's Greatest Hits [BMG]), The Essentials is by far the superior one -- while the earlier set was comprised of live versions of their classics, the latter features only the well known classic studio versions. Largely viewed as a goof band by many the first time around, Devo's stature as one of rock's most respected and influential artists has grown considerably over the years, especially due to a wide variety of alt- rockers covering Devo tunes over the years. And the music on The Essentials shows how leaders Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale were among the finest song writers of the entire late '70s/early '80s new wave era, especially upon hearing such selections as "Mongoloid," "Freedom of Choice," "Girl U Want," and of course their best known song, "Whip It." Also included are several cover songs that the group completely overhauls to fit their stiff sound (&"Satisfaction," "Secret Agent Man," and &"Working in the Coal Mine,") as well as the live standard "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA," which is the closest the "spud boys" ever came to penning a true epic. The Essentials is a superb Devo primer.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato