All songs written or co-written by Mark Mothersbaugh except “Don’t Be Cruel” (Elvis Presley/Otis Blackwell).
After the less than favorable commercial and critical reception bestowed upon their previous release, 1984’s SHOUT, Devo took a few years off from the music biz. When they re-emerged in 1988, they had a new record label (Enigma) and a new drummer, David Kendrick (replacing Alan Meyers), but the music was still unmistakably Devo. Although not quite in league with their earlier classics (FREEDOM OF CHOICE, etc. ), TOTAL DEVO was a definite improvement over the unfocused SHOUT. Although machinery takes the place of traditional instruments for most of the album, TOTAL DEVO has its share of highlights.
The band continues to explore dance music as they’d done in the past (“Peek-A-Boo,” “Here To Go,” etc. ) on the mechanical “Disco Dancer,” and offers yet another cover of a past rock & roll standard, Elvis’ ’50s hit “Don’t Be Cruel.” The album opener, “Baby Doll,” would’ve fit perfectly on Devo’s ’82 release OH NO! IT’S DEVO, while “Happy Guy” is an uptempo number and an underrated ’80s electro-alterna-pop gem. TOTAL DEVO was a step in the right direction for everyone’s favorite band from Akron, Ohio.