January 10, 2005

Classics: Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode.

Deepeachy Moddy. DM.

We spend a lot of time pondering
U2 as the Greatest Band of Our Time. I won't even comment on how REM briefly grabbed and dropped this "title." But Depeche Mode keeps on keepin' on; they've become elder rock statesman and their history brings them a certain gravitas. Their catalog of classics grows with each record, with our love for them growing at a faster rate than the music probably merits. As of now, they have not entered into the Rolling Stones-y phase where we praise each new record as a return to roots, but realize two years later that it's crappy (sorry M Stipe!).

Sure, Sister of Night from Ultra could have been on the 1984 record -Martin beats certain themes dead - but who gives a fuck since "Sister of Night" is a really good song?

Can I reduce Depeche Mode to certain characteristics? The Lennon/McCartney diva war between Gore and Gahan. The now-inevitable collision of synth and guitar. An undead lead singer who went from schnozzy gay-wannabe geek to battered hardrock cliche to fresh faced rehab star. The dude ("Fletch"?) who just stands there doing nothing at a keyboard, while pondering stock options. Lyrics laden with words like night, stars, darkness, pain, and pleasure. Martin Gore's vaguely bitchy, very distant and very impish blond persona, prone to makeup and frills. The smooth vocals of Dave. The grizzled vocals of Dave. The quivering vibrato of Martin, who I think should sing more.

It could/should be argued that Violator is THE album of the 1990's. When Enjoy The Silence came out, I liked it, but now it's taken on an epic quality that is tied up in both my college experiences and a collective thread running through DM fans all over the world - it's "their song" (I am not a true enough fan to say "our song"). Oh my little girl, it just makes everyone happy!

Honestly - and oddly - this is a group I barely own on CD, because the CDs are not, as of this writing, available in remastered form. The originals sound muddy and faint, but the songs are still as fresh now as they were upon release.

Top 10 Plus One Depeche Mode Songs:

Shake The Disease
Never Let Me Down Again
Enjoy The Silence
World In My Eyes
I Feel You
The Things You Said
In Your Room (Butch Vig mix)

These are not just ten songs I like. At various times I was utterly obsessed with each of these. I mean, how could you not swoon at the final minute of Never Let Me Down Again, with the "approaching army" synths and Martin's "See the stars they shine so bright" backing vocals? As with most songs, they are also reminiscent of periods of my life and people. When I hear these songs, the particular time period comes back for a fleeting, but really vivid, second - the same way certain smells affect us for an instant.

As a final note, Goldfrapp's recent re-working of Halo made that song better and it makes me wonder if Alison Goldfrapp is perhaps an heir to Martin and Dave's talent? Time will tell!

Depeche Mode official site
Depeche Mode fan site
HMV pages with samples:
#1 #2


The Dancing Kids said...
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The Dancing Kids said...

was a HUGE DM fan in high school and college - like - see every show I
could manage kind of fan.

Anyway - I wanted to weigh in with my top 10 dm songs and I am using
your criteria that they are not nec. the greatest songs but they take me
back to something specific - a feeling or a person...

not in any specific order:

The Sun and the Rainfall
Something to Do
Get the Balance Right
Leave in Silence
Told you so
Sometimes I wish I was dead
never let me down again
Behind the Wheel/Route 66 mix

V said...

Nice lists People!
It's hard to make a 10 song list of DM. Been a fan for quite a while and they do have so much out there. So I'll do my best here.

People are People
Set Me Free (Remotivate me)
Shake the Disease
Two Minute Warning
Waiting for The Night
My Secret Garden
Ice Machine
If You Want
Sister of Night

I had to put "pimpf" in there because of all the concerts I've ever been to, DM always put on the best shows! The visuals were always fantastic. And what a buildup during the Music for The Masses tour when pimpf came on and it just seemed like it was getting louder and louder and then CRASH... "my little girl...."

The Dancing Kids said...

omg i don't know who you are but you just brought back so many memories for me - i had totally forgotten that they would play pimpf and then do behind the wheel/rte 66 -- i thought about putting black celebration on there because that's what they opened with on that tour - which i saw like 3 times - and the black scrim would drop and they would jump out on "I look to you..." Your list is awesome.

also if i could please do 11 - Nothing to Fear.

V said...

The Black Celebration tour was awesomme!! That one also had a great intro "Christmas Island" That thing with the scrim was brilliant. Other bands began to copy it after that. That was a good concert and they're selection of the encore songs were great. Boys say go, something to do, more than a party.