I remember one of Devo's merchandising ideas was to advertise cassette tapes of mutated versions of their songs. They were said to have been recorded in a rare casual moment.
I remember sending my check to Club Devo for the first volume of those tapes. I waited in anticipation for it to arrive in the mail. When it came I initially treated the cassette as if it were a prized heirloom. To me it was a limited edition special treat for the most ardent Devo fan.
I played that cassette so many times, it shed oxides on the tape deck heads, capstands and pinchrollers. Eventually through all the use it saw, the tape reels tightened up to the point the cassette became unplayable anymore. I had to release it to the local transfer station for disposal.
Yet the music it contained lay forever etched into my consciousness.
One day in 1987 I was browsing through a record store in a local mall. As I would I flipped through the Devo selection of CDs. I saw a treat for sore ears. "Devo E-Z Listening Disc". I blinked a few times and it was still there. I touched it on the display, it felt solid with shape and form. I was disbelieving what I was seeing, though it was real and on the display in front of me. I picked up the disc and read the song list printed on the back. This CD offered 19 lounge renditions of Devo songs. I brought it to the counter with some other CDs I was going to purchase.
At home it was the first CD I played from that trip to the music store. It delivered on it's promise to fill my room with glorious mutated lounge versions of Devo. I was 26 standard earth years old, and at that moment I felt complete. The missing portion of my Devo collection had returned to me and with 9 extra songs. I reveled in this audio majesty.
My Devo CDs now had a new crown jewel, a new heirloom.
In 2016, could I believe what I was reading? Was it real? Was Devo releasing E-Z Listening Muzak in a box set? Not just once but twice? On CD and on Vinyl too. Yes, I must have them, both editions. I placed my pre-orders and once again I waited the long weeks for them to arrive.
Finally, a package arrived at my door. I opened the heavy cardboard outer shell and my eyes beheld packaging that recalled the lounge music era of the mid 50's. Dancing circles spelling out D-E-V-O, twin two tone diamonds containing E - Z.
I removed the plastic shrink wrap an inspected the LP pressings. They were pressed on a translucent brown wood grain vinyl compound. This brought to mind the brown wood paneled den walls I had seen in my youth in the early sixties.
It all worked, the artwork, the colors, the packaging concept, and the musical performances - it was a seamless whole.
What started in an understated advertisement in a LP inner sleeve
ended up as a fully realized statement. De-evolution is a beautiful thing.
I mail-ordered Vol. I from the FoC inner sleeve in 1980. When I got the tape I didn't know what to make of it. After repeated listenings it became one of my favorite DEVO releases. I wore the tape out, and bought the Rhino CD version when it came out. I've been tempted to buy the vinyl but my collecting days are coming to an end. I have the music and the memories (and the original, worn-out cassette).
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