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Freedom Of Choice Import
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Après l’échec patent de Duty Now for the Future, la reprise en mains est avérée dans le troisième album du groupe d’Akron. Les p’tits gars de l’Ohio ont en effet soigné les compositions, s’attachant à évoluer sur la mince frontière entre l’expérimentation des machines à sons, et autres technologies de studio, et l’expression populaire d’une musique destinée au plus grand nombre.
Et c’est naturellement le parfum de cette pop synthétique (le disque est produit par Robert Margouleff, l’homme derrière les claviers de Stevie Wonder), qui fait toute la valeur du disque. Il est à cet égard symptomatique que plusieurs chansons de l’album (à commencer par « Girl U Want ») ait bénéficié au fil des années de multiples reprises. Dans la fièvre mécanique qui anime alors le groupe, beaucoup y ont vu une signature définitive, et il reste évident que, si Devo n’est pas tout, tout Devo est ici.
Freedom Of Choice, album indispensable donc à la bonne compréhension, et du groupe, et, plus généralement, de la new wave américaine, parviendra à la deuxième place des charts britanniques (et à la quarante-septième position des classements britanniques), entraîné par le tube le plus colossal de toute la carrière de Devo, un « Whip It » qui culminera dans son pays d’origine à la quatorzième place de sa catégorie.
- Copyright 2015 Music Story
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Les titres 'Girl U Want' et 'Gates of Steel' sont très dansant.
La tendance électro-intello-dance reste de mise avec les 'Whip It', 'Ton o Luv' et 'Freedom Of Choice'. Le titre 'Planet Earth' clot l'album comme il avait commencé, en beauté.
Ce qui est intéressant dans DEVO vingt ans après, c'est que la production de ce groupe a certes vieilli mais reste d'actualité: une musique électronique assez avant gardiste mais basée sur du bon vieux rock'n roll, des textes délirants, une vision acérée de la société de consommation américaine, un mode de promotion par le grand guignol. On est bien chez les Américains où rien n'est fait à moitié.
En promouvant DEVO en 1979, Brian Eno, grand découvreur de talents, ne s'était pas trompé.
Cet album est un témoignage indispensable de ce que fut la New Wave aux Etats Unis au début des années 80: un remède contre la MOTUL dispensée par les radios FM du moment.
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Even setting aside the radio hit ("Whip It," as if you didn't know), the album has so many of my favorite Devo songs: Girl U Want, Freedom of Choice, Gates of Steel, Ton O Luv, the weirdly touching Snowball... there's not a bad song on there.
What makes this album so perfect is that it keeps the weirdness and edginess of their previous albums, but adds in a few shades of pop. Regrettably, this mixture only succeeded for one more album (New Traditionalists) before they started leaning too far to the pop side of the fence. I think by the time the album "Shout" was released they had thrown away their guitars completely, which made me sad. Also, some of my favorite songs were written by Jerry Casale, whose compositions are notably absent from later Devo albums. I've always wondered about that.
The original LP also had the most hilarious (or was it serious?) record sleeve - a catalog of the oddest Devo products imaginable. To this day I regret not ordering the leisure suit.
I hear people compare this band with other supposed "new wave" bands, whatever that means. Two comparisons work for me - Oingo Boingo and Talking Heads. If you like them, you will most definitely like this.
Hallelujah, Freedom Of Choice has been remastered for CD. You can actually hear bass on the CD of this reissue and the remastering reveals so much more detail and clarity. Instrumentation sounds much more open and not the muddy mess evident on the previous CD release of this abum. It's as if a wet blanket has been lifted off your speakers. However, as with Q?A!, the remastering process has not entirely corrected everything and has even introduced a few glitches of its own.
Again, in going back to the "original analog recording tapes", all of the artifacts of 30 years of analog tape storage have once again come to the fore. There are numerous tape print through (ghosting) artifacts that detract from the overall enjoyment of this album. The worst examples of these is the end of Girl U Want where there is a persistent echo of "She's just a girl, she's just a girl" as well as a pre-echo of the bass intro to It's Not Right. Ditto between Mr. B's Ballroom and Planet Earth where there is a post echo on the former and a pre-echo on the latter. None of these artifacts were on any previous vinyl or CD release of this album. Hello remastering engineer, did you actually listen to this before signing it off? It's Not Right. Every one of these glitches should have been removed during the remastering process.
As for Deluxe, I don't think so. Maybe WB should've passed this one over to Rhino as well for the Deluxe treatment. Tacking the Dev-O Live EP onto the end of the album as Deluxe bonus material is plain lazy. For a format that can hold up to 80 minutes of content, this "Deluxe" disc still clocks in at just over 50 minutes. Where is the bonus material/disc of B-sides, demos and other oddities? Where is Turn Around (you know, the song covered by Nirvana) and the remix of Snowball that were also recorded during these album sessions? Where are the demos recorded during the FOC writing process that didn't appear on the Rhino Handmade Recombo DNA set: Red Shark (that became It's Not Right), Ton O' Luv, Freedom Of Choice and Don't You Know? What about Fountain of Filth that was recorded numerous times during the demo sessions? Or how about a DVD with the live TV appearances on Fridays or Don Kirshner's Rock Concert? And not a liner note in sight. As with Q?A!, this reissue offered a golden opportunity to release a Deluxe version of this iconic album by an iconic band that has been lost.
Devo truly were Pioneers That Got Scalped and now us long denied fans have been scalped as well. Hopefully the forthcoming Devo reissues from WB will have a bit more effort put into them in terms of both remastering of the audio and bonus materials.
I'm giving this five stars for simply because of the iconic nature of this album. If I could break it down between rating the audio quality, the bonus materials and the remastering the individual ratings for these categories would be a lot less.
I can't tell you how many times I heard that "Devo sold out!" Well, the joke's on you, because that is what Devo was all about: Selling out! Why do you think they went to great lengths to create the cheesy Rod Rooter and insert him in their videos as a stand-in for the hack producers who were forced upon them?
Devo was all about packaging and marketing. Is it any wonder that twenty years later, Target uses "Beautiful World" to sell consumer America on their idea of a beautiful world, a cold and grinch-like place in which Salvation Army bellringers are sent back to their slums, out of sight of Target's newly upscale clientele?
But, I digress.
Devo started dropping little "Paul Is Dead" style hints about their parodies of corporate music in their second album, "Duty Now for the Future," which indeed begins with the highly official and authoritarian "Devo Corporate Anthem." Spreading their (Mr.) DNA by means of the Smart Patrol, Devo infected America's ears with the seminal fluid of a one-size-fits-all prefabricated world. Flying beneath the radar, it was a Triumph of the Will on their part.
Which brings us at long last to this album, whose signature marketing gimmick was the vacu-plastic Energy Dome (or, red flower pots, to the uninitiated); an Energy Dome hat pin was available to students on a budget, or fair-weather spuds. Again, my punker friends told me "Devo is selling out!" They entirely missed the send-up of tie-in marketing the pop music had foisted on them for generations. Devo's yellow suits (official nomenclature: Anti-Human-Element suits), Duty Now atomic symbol student-T's, plastic pompadours, maxi speak-no-evil-turtlenecks, spudring collars and Chinese-American friendship pins were all Devo's antisceptic answers to the Monkees' lunchbox, Partridge Family shopping bags, the Jackson-5ive cartoons and Beatles coloring books.
"Freedom of Choice" is Devo's hallmark of artistic fame and corporate shame. "Use Your Freedom of Choice," they wail -- whilst narrowing your freedom of choice to five identically uniformed petrochemical rocker nerds. "Whip It!" About the joys of self devo-tion, sadomasochism or (to quote Mark Mothersbaugh, in a later interview) simply "a self-help song?" YOU make the choice!
This album's chock full of eminently danceable songs in 4/4 time: Aside from the aforementioned, "Girl U Want," "Ton O' Luv," "Gates of Steel" and "That's Pep" are the least devolved.
"Planet Earth" is code for Devo's observation that we really don't have freedom of choice, but can be satisfied with the illusion of same. It looks forward to "Beautiful World" on their next vinyl offering.
Devo-ted spuds will make note that the contemporaneous tune "Turnaround" is not on this or any other album version; It was only available as the flip side to the "Whip It" 45 rpm.
But, thanks to corporate music mavens such as Rod Rooter of Big Entertainment, you can't get 45's anymore. Just compact discs. And, government-controlled MP-3s.
Now *that's* what I call Freedom of Choice!