Duty Now for the Future

Duty Now for the Future
Duty Now for the Future
Studio album by Devo
Released July 1979 (1979-07)
Recorded September 1978-Early 1979
Genre Punk Rock/Post-Punk
Length 38:56
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Ken Scott
Devo chronology
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Duty Now for the Future
Freedom of Choice
Alternative cover
International cover
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars link
Robert Christgau (B−)[1]
Rolling Stone (very negative) link
Wiki letter w.svg This table needs to be expanded using prose. See the guideline for more information.

Duty Now for the Future was the second album by United States New Wave band Devo, released in 1979 (see 1979 in music). It was on the Billboard charts for 10 weeks, peaking at #73.

The "Devo Corporate Anthem" music and video are a nod to the 1975 film Rollerball, in which games are preceded by players and audience standing solemnly while listening to a regional corporate anthem.

"Secret Agent Man" is a cover (with modified lyrics) of the song by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri and performed by Johnny Rivers in 1965.

"Devo Corporate Anthem" and "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise" videos were featured on the collection The Complete Truth About De-Evolution.

The "Secret Agent Man" video was featured in the film The Truth about De-Evolution as an early document that was originally titled "The Beginning was the End" along with videos for "Jocko Homo" and other random Devo shorts and information.

The majority of the songs on the album had been performed in Devo's live set as early as 1976 or 1977.



It was received less enthusiastically than their first release; Dave Marsh, writing in Rolling Stone, condemns it completely, feeling that "inspired amateurism works only when the players aspire to something better." [2] The Allmusic review, written more than a decade later, takes a longer view. Reviewer Mark Deming writes that "their second album captures the group in the midst of a significant stylistic shift" while acknowledging that the song "'Triumph of the Will' embraces fascism as a satirical target without bothering to make it sound as if they disapprove." [3] KROQ/LA long-time DJ Jed The Fish, admittedly a huge fan of Devo, sees the album as playing "catch-up," fleshing out many more songs from their immense volume of demo recordings.

Cultural Significance

A seminal New Wave synthpop album, Duty Now for the Future was eventually heralded as one of the first pop/rock or AOR releases of a major record label to rely heavily on synthesizers, which went on to be widely used in the subsequent New Wave genre of the 1980s. As an offshoot of punk rock, New Wave music had consisted primarily of guitar-based songs derived from traditional rock and roll and blues scales and riffs, as represented by Devo's punk contemporaries The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Clash.

Legendary Punk Rock icon Henry Rollins is among the many musicians that praise the album's innovations. Rollins' short-lived Infinite Zero reissue label (an offshoot of American Recordings) was responsible for the first U.S. CD release of Duty Now for the Future in 1994. The album had been continually overlooked by original label Warner Brothers.

US Cover Art

The American 12" album cover was jokingly dominated by the album’s Universal Product Code. The colorful Janet Perr artwork satirized the new requirements for these bar codes. Until that time, album covers were seen as an entire art form unto themselves. Consequently, the new mandates for UPCs splashed across every work of album art were a subject of much protest as an infringement upon artistic integrity and an Orwellian symbol of the impersonal modern age.

The rectangular image of the band originally came perforated and could therefore be removed from the "offending" barcodes surrounding it.

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Devo Corporate Anthem"   Mark Mothersbaugh 1:16
2. "Clockout"   Gerald V. Casale 2:48
3. "Timing X"   M. Mothersbaugh 1:13
4. "Wiggly World"   Bob Mothersbaugh, G.V. Casale 2:45
5. "Blockhead"   B. Mothersbaugh, M. Mothersbaugh 3:00
6. "Strange Pursuits"   G.V. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh 2:45
7. "S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)"   M. Mothersbaugh 4:27
8. "Triumph of the Will"   M. Mothersbaugh, G.V. Casale 2:19
9. "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize"   M. Mothersbaugh 2:42
10. "Pink Pussycat"   M. Mothersbaugh, B. Mothersbaugh 3:12
11. "Secret Agent Man"   P. F. Sloan, Steve Barri, arr. M. Mothersbaugh 3:37
12. "Smart Patrol"/"Mr DNA"   G.V. Casale, M. Mothersbaugh 6:06
13. "Red Eye"   M. Mothersbaugh, G.V. Casale 2:50

Note: On the original LP album release, side one comprised tracks 1-7; side two tracks 8-13.[4]

Compact disc releases

  • The 1995 (copyright 1994) US CD issue on Infinite Zero Archive/American Recordings (the first American version on CD) came with two bonus tracks: the "Secret Agent Man" single b-side "Soo Bawlz" (written by Mark Mothersbaugh) and the Brian Eno-produced "Penetration in the Centrefold," (written by G.V. Casale and M. Mothersbaugh), originally the B-side of the UK release of "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize."
  • The 2005 remastered re-issue on Collectables includes no bonus tracks.
  • In 2008, the album was digitally remastered and released as part of the box set This is the Devo Box in Japan.
  • While the original US issue and the Collectables re-issue label the final track as "Red Eye Express," the UK issue and most other reissues label it simply as "Red Eye."
  • On March 29, 2010, Warner Bros. Records announced it would be issuing a newly remastered and expanded edition of the album on CD.[5] Released on April 17, the bonus tracks included on the release are the spoken word piece "General Boy Visits Apocalypse Now" (first available on the compilation Pioneers Who Got Scalped), the single b-sides "Soo Bawlz" and "Penetration in the Centrefold," the alternate mix of "Be Stiff," erroneously labeled the "single mix," and a live version of "Secret Agent Man," recorded in 1980.


Technical personnel

  • Ken Scott – producer, engineer
  • Bernie Grundman – mastering engineer


  • "The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize" / "Penetration In The Centrefold"
  • "Secret Agent Man" / "Soo Bawlz"



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