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"Mongoloid"

1977 Booji Boy Records release of "Mongoloid", backed with "Jocko Homo"
Single by Devo
from the album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
B-side "Jocko Homo"
Released December 1977
Format 7", 12"
Recorded Unknown
Genre New Wave
Length 3:44
Label Booji Boy Records
Writer(s) Gerald Casale,
Mark Mothersbaugh
Producer Brian Eno,
Chuck Statler
Devo singles chronology
- "Mongoloid"
(1977)
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
(1977)

"Mongoloid" is the first single released by Devo in 1977, on the Booji Boy Records label. It was backed with the song "Jocko Homo." "Mongoloid" also had one of the first music videos made using collage. "Mongoloid" would later be re-recorded by Devo and appeared on the album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! in 1978. It is also a staple of Devo's live shows.

Contents

Song description

"Mongoloid," like many of Devo's early songs, was built on a motorik beat. The song opens with a 4/4 electric bass line, which is then joined by drums, and electric guitar. Over this, a swooping synthesizer line is played on Minimoog, using the pitch bend to create a spooky effect. The synth is not used as a lead instrument during the song, but only the opening and closing. The doubled vocals are sung simultaneously by both Gerald V. Casale and "Bob 1" (Bob Mothersbaugh). On the original single, the vocals are deliberately sung in a nasal fashion.

The lyrics discuss an individual who has Down Syndrome, formerly known as Mongolism. Despite his affliction, he is able to live a normal life so that nobody knows of his extra chromosome. Although it is a positive song (a rarity for DEVO at the time of the song's recording), it has received criticism due to its controversial title. It can be seen as an ironic song referring to the level of intellect and education of the average American being equivalent to a mongoloid, so that he was undetectable in modern American society.

Music video

"Mongoloid" was Devo's second music video, after The Truth About De-Evolution. It was not actually made by the band, but by experimental filmmaker Bruce Conner. Conner combined 1950s television advertisements, science fiction film clips (including a scene from It Came From Outer Space!), and scientific documentaries with abstract animation and original film work. Devo marketed the film as "A documentary film exploring the manner in which a determined young man overcame a basic mental defect and became a useful member of society. Insightful editing techniques reveal the dreams, ideals and problems that face a large segment of the American male population. Educational. Background music written and performed by the DEVO orchestra."

"Mongoloid" appears as a bonus feature on The Complete Truth About Devolution DVD.

Discography

"Mongoloid" was originally recorded as a single released on the Booji Boy Records label in 1977. The original single was a triple gatefold, held together with stickers. The inside of the gatefold displayed the lyrics of the two songs in either blue or black ink depending on the pressing. The back cover of the single was an image of Booji Boy with the text "We're all Devo! Booji Boy XO."

As Devo gained fame, Stiff Records in the UK agreed to release the single on their label. There were several pressings of the "Mongoloid" single with varying packages, ranging from a full triple gatefold, to a simple picture sleeve, to a generic "Stiff Records" paper sleeve. The Stiff Records releases are marked by the Stiff logo in the lower left hand corner of the front cover.

Other versions

For Devo's debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, "Mongoloid" was re-recorded. This version contains much more involved synthesizer playing throughout the song rather than during the opening and closing. An "E-Z Listening" version of "Mongoloid" was made for playing before concerts and appears on the 1987 E-Z Listening Disc. In 2002, Devo performed a techno version of "Mongoloid" at a special show for the writers and producers of the cartoon Rugrats (for which Mark Mothersbaugh composed the theme song). It has more recently been sampled by electronic outfit Layo & Bushwacka for the track "Love Story," which was rather successful in Europe and Australia.

Covers

"Mongoloid" has been one of the most oft-covered songs in the Devo catalog:

  • Zvoncekova Bilježnica, a Serbian hardcore/postpunk band covered this song for their 1992 album Inžinjeri ljudskih duša on Serbian language with different lyrics.
  • Demented Are Go, a Welsh psychobilly band, covered it on their 1993 album Tangenital Madness on a Pleasant Side of Hell.
  • Australian ska band The Porkers covered this song for their 1994 album, Grunt!
  • There exists a Bluegrass version of the song, recorded in Cleveland, Ohio, by the Hotfoot Quartet in 1980 and released as a 45 rpm single on the Black Snake label. [1]
  • A choral version of the song, both a cappella and with instrumental accompaniment, was released by the German band Popchor Berlin in 2002 on their EP-1" album.
  • Thrash metal group Demolition Hammer covers the song on their 1994 album Timebomb.
  • Sepultura covered the song on their 2002 Revolusongs EP.
  • A slightly altered version of the chorus serves as the theme music of the Androsynth race in the Star Control computer games.
  • In 2007, Datarock performed an acoustic version of the song for Like A Version, a segment on the national Australian radio station, Triple J.
  • The Belgian gyprockband The Assassinators plays a cover version of the song in most of their concerts.
  • Additionally, in the Flemish film Ex Drummer, the main character's band The Feminists do a delightfully brutal version of "Mongoloid" and are shown playing it in rehearsals and in concert. This version was recorded by Belgian band Millionaire.
  • Possum Dixon performed a Spanish cover, "El Mongoloido," on We Are Not Devo, the Devo tribute album released in 1997.
  • Rummelsnuff, a German Industrial/Punk band, covered "Mongoloid" on their first record Halt Durch! in 2008.oloid
  • Mongoloid is also covered by an early incarnation of the band October Rising...when they were known as the "Star Spangled Bastards."

Notes








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