Bands have a lot of ups and downs in their careers, and Devo has definitely seen its share of downs. Despite a huge cult following, they've gone through many a drummer and an interesting career path. Namely, from being about breaking things down to eventually being about building them up, from writing songs mocking the slogans of Burger King to providing the music to an ad for McDonald's. Regardless, they're good people that make interesting music, and Shout is the last full-length album featuring Alan Myers (original drummer.)
Since Shout really didn't seem to click, it never got a very wide release on CD, appearing only on the Warner Bros. imprint run by Henry Rollins in the US in addition to a Japanese release. The US release from a few years back has a few bonus tracks, and that's what this review looks at.
Released before the band went on break for a couple of years, it's safe to say that this recording didn't quite give the band the shot-in-the-arm they wanted after Oh No, It's DEVO! Shout has a similar sound, being that it's very heavy on synthesized sounds instead of instruments and the lack of real drums is reportedly one of the reasons why Myers opted not to return at the release of Total Devo later on-- there wasn't much for him to do. The album's very blippy sound is sure to please fans of a number of Japanese bands that list Devo as an influence, although the lyrics aren't quite as fun or as creative as seen previously. Puppet Boy, though, is an amusing argument between a puppet and the puppetmaster, so that's sure to please, and The 4th Dimension breaks into the Beatles' Daytripper for a short time. For most fans, the album's highlight is a cover of Jimi Hendrix' Are You Experienced? which, while different than the original, isn't exactly the night-and-day difference seen with the band's covers of Secret Agent Man or Satisfaction. Experienced? isn't jerky or especially weird, just very '80's.
This isn't the "great lost Devo album" by most standards, and tracks from it are a little tough to come by as not many songs made the various anthologies or Greatest Hits albums. It is a great disc, though, and sure to please the band's fans. But will it please new fans? At the time I listened to it for the first time, I've heard a few random live tracks and their Greatest Hits release, and this sold me on picking up more, so I'd say yes. But there are cheaper ways to discover the band that is Devo.
The main thing about this album is it isn't cheap nor is it easy to find. On eBay, the US version of the CD runs $25-$50, but there hasn't been one up in a while. The original vinyl release is often much cheaper, and can be had very cheaply at the right venues. At the time of this review, the Japanese import CD did not appear to be available online. And don't get me started about Half.com.
With this in mind, we advise you to do what we did and score it in a small record store's used bins for about $7. Of course, we found ours in 1999, so good luck.
January 5, 2004