Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode are an English electronic band that released seven studio albums and a live disc between 1981 and 1990 on Mute and Sire. They launched in 1980 when keyboardists Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Vince Clarke found singer Dave Gahan and linked with Mute founder Daniel Miller, who produced their first five albums.

Depeche Mode first charted with their second single “New Life,” included on their 1981 debut album Speak & Spell, a collection of electro-pop Clarke originals, including their early signature “Just Can’t Get Enough.” After the ensuing tour, Clarke left and formed the duo Yazoo with Alison Moyet.

In 1982, Depeche Mode hired keyboardist Alan Wilder for live work but functioned as a trio on their second album A Broken Frame, a collection of Gore originals, including the singles “The Meaning of Love,” “Leave in Silence,” and the UK Top 10 hit “See You.”

Wilder integrated as a full member on Depeche Mode’s 1983 single “Get the Balance Right!” and their third album Construction Time Again, which features “Love, in Itself” and “Everything Counts,” another signature that marked their integration of percussion.

Depeche Mode embraced industrial sounds on their 1984 single “People Are People” and fourth album Some Great Reward, which spawned the fan favorites “Master and Servant” and “Blasphemous Rumours.”

In 1985, Depeche Mode cut the non-album singles “Shake the Disease” and “It’s Called a Heart,” both included on the UK compilation The Singles 81→85. In the US, “People Are People” became their first Billboard hit after heavy rotation on MTV.

Depeche Mode cultivated a darker sound on their 1986 release Black Celebration, spearheaded by the singles “Stripped,” “A Question of Time,” and the Gore-sung ballad “A Question of Lust.”

They made further stateside inroads with their 1987 album Music for the Masses and the singles “Strangelove,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” and “Behind the Wheel,” all promoted with distinct monochrome videos by director Anton Corbijn. The album’s tour culminated with a June 1988 show before 60,000 attendees at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, documented on the 1989 concert film and live double-album 101.

In 1989, Depeche Mode charted across Europe with the single “Personal Jesus,” a taster for their 1990 seventh studio album Violator, a transatlantic million-seller with the hits “Enjoy the Silence” and “Policy of Truth.” 

Members: Martin L. Gore (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Dave Gahan (lead vocals), Andrew Fletcher (keyboards, bass, backing vocals, 1980–2022), Vince Clarke (keyboards, vocals, guitar, 1980-81), Alan Wilder (keyboards, piano, drums, programming, vocals, 1982-95)

This page is currently in development and will undergo heavy editing and have added contents in the coming months (August 2023)


Background

Depeche Mode grew from a partnership formed in 1977 between Basildon, Essex, teenagers Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher. They first teamed in the bedroom band No Romance in China with Clarke on vocals and guitar and Fletcher on bass. A sequence of short-lived, unrecorded projects followed in 1979. Clarke teamed with keyboardist (and future collaborator) Robert Marlow in The Plan. Months later, Marlow teamed with musician Martin Gore in the trio French Look.

In early 1980, Gore linked with Clarke and a returning Fletcher in the Composition of Sound. Despite their initial guitar–bass–keyboard setup, the band decided to go all-electronic after hearing the modernist sounds of a new band from Liverpool, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Clarke and Fletcher switched to synthesizers, alongside Gore, and the band hired Epping-born singer Dave Gahan, who Clarke spotted at a local jam session singing “Heroes” by David Bowie. The newly minted four-piece lifted the name of a French fashion magazine, Dépêche Mode, meaning “fashion news.”

Depeche Mode played its first gigs in the spring of 1980 and cut a demo with three songs: “Ice Machine,” “Radio News,” and “Photographic.” The last of those was selected (alongside early recordings by B-Movie, Blancmange, Soft Cell, and The The) for inclusion on the various-artists LP Some Bizzare Album, an electro-pop compilation issued in January 1981 on small-press Some Bizzare.

In late 1980, Depeche Mode linked with producer and Silicone Teens mastermind Daniel Miller, who signed the band to his indie label Mute Records: founded in 1978 for his pioneering Normal electro-punk single “Warm Leatherette” / “TV OD.” The label’s early catalog includes electronic post-punk and experimental releases by Fad Gadget, Robert Rental, German industrial pioneers Deutsch-Amerikanische-Freundschaft (DAF), and American noise-maker Boyd Rice (aka NON).


1981


“Dreaming of Me”

On February 20, 1981, Depeche Mode released their debut single “Dreaming of Me” backed with “Ice Machine.” Vince Clarke wrote both songs, which Daniel Miller produced for Mute Records.

A. “Dreaming of Me” (3:46)
B. “Ice Machine” (3:54)

Miller produced both sides in December 1980 at Blackwing Studios, located inside a deconsecrated church in south-east London, where Mute engineer Eric Radcliffe established the facility. “Dreaming of Me” appeared as the thirteenth Mute single release (MUTE 13) behind the fourth Fad Gadget single “Make Room” (MUTE 12).

“Dreaming of Me” reached No. 57 on the UK Singles Chart. However, it was their first of four consecutive No. 1 singles on the UK Indie Chart, established in January 1980 to track sales at independent records stores.

Both sides of the single have fade-out endings but Miller also produced versions with ‘cold endings’ (abrupt stops) that extend the run times: “Dreaming of Me” (4:03) and “Ice Machine” (4:06).


“New Life”

On June 13, 1981, Depeche Mode released their second single “New Life” backed with “Shout!” Vince Clarke authored both songs, which Daniel Miller produced in May amid sessions for their debut album. The single appeared as the fourteenth Mute release (MUTE 14). “New Life” became their first hit single.

A. “New Life” (3:43)
B. “Shout!” (3:44)

“New Life” reached No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 22 in Ireland. Mute pressed the single simultaneously on 12″ with a remix of “New Life” (3:58) and a double-length version of “Shout!” dubbed the ‘Rio Mix’ (7:31).

Depeche Mode mimed “New Life” on the June 25 broadcast of the BBC music program TotP, which thrice aired “New Life” amid summer hits by Bad Manners (“Can Can”), Dexys Midnight Runners (“Show Me”), Duran Duran (“Girls On Film”), Gillan (“No Laughing In Heaven”), The Jacksons (“Walk Right Now”), Kate Bush (“Sat In Your Lap”), Kim Wilde (“Water on Glass”), Randy Crawford (“You Might Need Somebody”), Saxon (“Never Surrender”), Spandau Ballet (“Chant No. 1”), The Specials (“Ghost Town”), and Third World (“Dancing On the Floor”).

In the main TotP “New Life” segment, Depeche Mode display their edgy style of dress with a mix of post-punk and fetish club attire, as seen on Vince (all leather), Andy (military hat), and Martin (mesh shirt). In their other TotP appearance for “New Life,” they mime within lavender-lit zigzag columns in formal neo-twenties attire (suspenders, bowties, fedoras).


Speak & Spell

Depeche Mode released their debut album, Speak & Spell, on October 5, 1981, on Mute. It features eleven originals, including the pre-released “New Life” and the followup third single “Just Can’t Get Enough.”

Speak & Spell is the only Depeche Mode album with co-founder Vince Clarke, who wrote every song apart from two numbers on Side Two: “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and the instrumental “Big Muff,” both composed by Martin Gore, who sings lead on the penultimate track “Any Second Now (Voices).” Dave Gahan sings the remaining songs, which feature Clarke, Gore, and Andy Fletcher on synthesizers and electronic percussion.

The title comes from the Speak & Spell, a line of electronic hand-held child computers manufactured between 1978 and 1992 by Texas Instruments.

1. “New Life” (3:43)
2. “I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead” (2:16)
3. “Puppets” (3:55)
4. “Boys Say Go!” (3:03)
5. “Nodisco” (4:11)
6. “What’s Your Name?” (2:41)

7. “Photographic” (4:44)
8. “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (4:34)
9. “Big Muff” (4:20)
10. “Any Second Now (Voices)” (2:35)
11. “Just Can’t Get Enough” (3:40)

Sessions took place in the spring–summer of 1981 at Blackwing Studios with producer Daniel Miller and engineers Eric Radcliffe and John Fryer, both soundmen on 1980–81 titles by Fad Gadget, In Camera, The Lines, and the Wire spinoff Dome.

Speak & Spell sports a photograph of a decapitated ceramic swan in cellophane with frosty sticks and a flaming backdrop. The image, along with the monochrome back-cover member pics, are credited to Brian Griffin, who took iconic cover photos of late-seventies classics by Peter Hammill (The Future Now) and Joe Jackson (Look Sharp!) and earned recent visual credits on titles by Ali Thomson, Bill Nelson, Dire Straits, Echo & The Bunnymen, Iggy Pop, Random Hold, Teardrop Explodes, Ultravox (Vienna), and Voyager.

On September 7, Depeche Mode released “Just Can’t Get Enough” as the second advance a-side backed with the non-album “Any Second Now.” Mute issued the single simultaneously on 12″ with an extended “Just Can’t Get Enough” dubbed the ‘Schizo Mix’ (6:46).

B. “Any Second Now” (3:08) The 12″ features an extended altered version (5:43).

For “Just Can’t Get Enough,” Depeche Mode made their first music video, in which they mime leather-clad inside a gray studio surrounded by four complementary females in new wave attire. Midway, the eight chat over margaritas at a restaurant booth. On a (now demolished) Royal Festival Hall stairway, the girls step up, turn around and play the brassy refrain. The director, Clive Richardson, worked beforehand on numerous videos by Siouxsie & The Banshees (“Christine,” “Red Light,” “Israel”) and the Arc of a Diver clips by Steve Winwood (“Night Train,” “While You See a Chance”).

“Just Can’t Get Enough” reached No. 4 in Australia and No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart. It peaked in the Top 20 in Sweden (No. 14), Ireland (No. 16), and Spain (No. 18). Depeche Mode mimed it on the September 24 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired “Just Can’t Get Enough” amid autumn hits by Adam & The Ants (“Prince Charming”), Elvis Costello (“A Good Year for the Roses”), Heaven 17 (“Play to Win”), The Human League (“Open Your Heart”), Imagination (“In & Out of Love”), Japan (“Quiet Life”), Linx (“So This Is Romance”), Madness (“Shut Up”), Slade (“Lock Up Your Daughters”), and Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin (“It’s My Party”). The Depeche Mode segment takes place on a cagey chrome stage where Dave (white-jacket tux) and Martin (shirtless with suspenders) hold trumpets.

Speak & Spell reached No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 21 in Sweden. The album also peaked in the Top 30 in Spain (No. 26) and Australia (No. 28). Speak & Spell is also Depeche Mode’s first of five consecutive No. 1 albums on the UK Independent Albums chart. It later certified Gold in the UK for 100,000 shifted units. Despite its No. 49 peak on the German Albums chart, Speak & Spell later certified Gold in the country for 250,000 copies sold.

US copies substitute “I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead” with Depeche Mode’s debut a-side “Dreaming of Me.”


1982

In December 1981, Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode, having tired of the band’s tour schedule and promotional rounds. He teamed with blue-eyed-soul singer Alison Moyet in the synth duo Yazoo, which charted with the 1982 album Upstairs at Eric’s and the hits “Only You” and “Don’t Go.”

Depeche Mode placed an anonymous ad in Melody Maker for a keyboardist under age twenty-one. It netted Alan Wilder (born June 1, 1959, Hammersmith), who cut one album with the new wave / ska band Real to Real and played an auxiliary role on the 1979 debut album by Stackridge spinoff The Korgis. Though he exceeded the band’s age request (at twenty-two) Depeche Mode hired Wilder, first on a live-only trial basis. In the studio, they recorded their first post-Clarke material as a trio.

For their three 1982 singles, Depeche Mode hired filmmaker Julien Temple, who directed the 1980 Sex Pistols mockumentary The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and recent music videos for Gary Numan (“She’s Got Claws”), Judas Priest (“Breaking the Law,” “Heading Out to the Highway”), The Kinks (“Predictable”), and The Stray Cats (“Stray Cat Strut”).


“See You”

On January 29, 1982, Depeche Mode released their fourth single: “See You” backed with “Now, This Is Fun” (MUTE 18), both Martin Gore compositions. This is their first release as a trio composed of Gore, Dave Gahan, and Andy Fletcher. They co-produced the single with Daniel Miller in December 1981 at Blackwing.

A. “See You” (3:55)
B. “Now, This Is Fun” (3:23)

In the “See You” video, Dave walks a train terminal at night and comes to a photobooth, where the slot holds an unclaimed photo-strip of a recent love interest. He walks to a nearby phonebooth, only to find it occupied by Martin. The next day, he walks through a department store where Martin and Andy browse the electronics section. He comes to the store’s photobooth and finds an unclaimed strip of the girl in booth-kiss frames with both bandmates. Somehow, Dave develops a strip of him and the girl together. He walks to the record section, grabs a copy of “See You” and takes it to the counter where the girl of interest works as the checker. The final scene occurs in a video editing room where director Julien Temple replays monochrome footage of the four actors.

Mute also issued the single as a 12″ with extended versions of “See You” (4:50) and “Now, This Is Fun” (4:45).

“See You” reached No. 13 in the Netherlands, No. 9 in Ireland, and No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart. Depeche Mode (with Wilder) mimed “See You” under blue–pink lights for the February 11 broadcast of TotP, which thrice aired the song amid winter hits by Adrian Gurvitz (“Classic”), The Associates (“Party Fears Two”), Bow Wow Wow (“Go Wild In the Country”), Haircut One Hundred (“Love Plus One”), Hall & Oates (“I Can’t Go for That”), Iron Maiden (“Run to the Hills”), The Jam (“Town Called Malice”), J. Geils Band (“Centerfold”), The Stranglers (“Golden Brown”), and Bananarama & Fun Boy Three (“It Ain’t What You Do It’s the Way That You Do It”).

The picture sleeve to “See You” and the follow-up single feature illustrations and graphics by Moritz Reichelt (credited as Atatak Design (Rrr)) of the German avant Neue Deutsche Welle act Der Plan. He uses the Gillies Gothic typeface, a cursive font released in 1935 by the Bauer Type Foundry.>


“The Meaning of Love”

On April 26, 1982, Depeche Mode released their fifth single: “The Meaning of Love” backed with “Oberkorn (It’s a Small Town)” (MUTE 22), both Martin Gore compositions co-produced between the band and Daniel Miller in March 1982 at Blackwing.

A. “The Meaning of Love” (3:05)
B. “Oberkorn (It’s a Small Town)” (4:07) Gore wrote this in Oberkorn, Luxembourg, as an instrumental prelude to their shows on the Broken Frame Tour.

Mute’s 12″ release of the single contains an extended “Meaning of Love” dubbed the ‘Fairly Odd Mix’ (4:59) and a near double-length “Oberkorn” subtitled the ‘Development Mix’ (7:37). “The Meaning of Love” appeared six weeks after “Only You” (MUTE 20), the debut Yazoo single.

The video to “The Meaning of Love” takes place in a crystal ball where Depeche Mode perform in matching navy blue stage suits inside a glitter-fringe studio amid scenes of assorted characters: a scientist (Dave), a music-box ballerina, two anthropomorphic bear string-puppets, and a child who plays with letter blocks. Director Julien Temple employs blue-pink highlights in dark settings throughout the video, which ends with Dave awakened to his wife and child, whose letter blocks spell the song title as Depeche Mode play on the TV screen. Alan Wilder appears in this video despite his absence from the recording.

“The Meaning of Love” reached No. 17 in Ireland, No. 16 in Sweden, and No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart. It peaked at No. 2 on the UK Indie chart, where “The Meaning of Love” nested under “Only You” (itself a No. 2 hit on the main UK Singles Chart).

Depeche Mode mimed “The Meaning of Love” amid slanted tube fixtures and lavender–pink lighting on the May 6 broadcast of TotP, which also featured spring hits by Patrice Rushen (“Forget Me Nots”), PhD (“I Won’t Let You Down”), Tight Fit (“Fantasy Island”), Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder (“Ebony and Ivory”), and the second Bananarama–FB3 collaboration “Really Saying Something.”


A Broken Frame

Depeche Mode released their second album, A Broken Frame, on September 27, 1982, on Mute. This is their first album after the departure of songwriter Vince Clarke and their only album as a trio composed of singer Dave Gahan and keyboardists Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher.

A Broken Frame contains ten songs by Gore, including the early 1982 a-sides “See You” and “The Meaning of Love” and their sixth single “Leave in Silence.” Gore, who later emerged as the band’s second vocalist, harmonizes with Gahan on “Shouldn’t Have Done That.”

Musically, A Broken Frame bridges the upbeat melodic traits of Speak & Spell with the darker characteristics of subsequent works.

1. “Leave in Silence” (4:51)
2. “My Secret Garden” (4:46)
3. “Monument” (3:15)
4. “Nothing to Fear” (4:18) Instrumental
5. “See You” (4:34)

6. “Satellite” (4:44)
7. “The Meaning of Love” (3:06)
8. “A Photograph of You” (3:04)
9. “Shouldn’t Have Done That” (3:12)
10. “The Sun & the Rainfall” (5:02
)

Sessions took place between December 1981 and July 1982 at Blackwing Studios with producer Daniel Miller and engineers Eric Radcliffe and John Fryer — the Speak & Spell soundteam that worked on A Broken Frame in sequence with Upstairs at Eric’s, the singular Yazoo album. Fryer also worked on 1982 4AD titles by Colourbox, Cocteau Twins, and (with Radcliffe) the Young Marble Giants spinoff Weekend. In contrast to Clarke’s precise ideas of song construction, Gore submitted lyrics and melodies and let pieces take shape as his bandmates and soundteam gave their input.

A Broken Frame is the first of five Depeche Mode studio albums with visual design by T&CP Associates co-founder Martyn Atkins, who employs calligrapher Ching Ching Lee for this release and the accompanying single. The cover shows a sickle-wielding Russian agrarian in a wheat field, clad in a red hijab and neo-peasant attire (in the updated New Romantic style) by designer Jacqui Frye.> Brian Griffin photographed the subject for the front and red-framed back cover.

The Broken Frame inner-sleeve features lyric columns with white and yellow typeface on red. The sickle reappears on a red–yellow symbol (duplicated on the LP labels). Griffin’s photography also appears on 1982 releases by Asia, Blanket of Secrecy, Paul Carrack, and Sky. Atkins designed 1980–81 sleeves for assorted Factory and DinDisc acts (A Certain Ratio, Crispy  Ambulance, Joy Division, Monochrome Set) and concurrent titles by Yello and The (English) Beat (Special Beat Service).

Depeche Mode release “Leave in Silence” on August 16 as the third advance a-side backed with “Excerpt From: My Secret Garden” (3:16), a distillation of the Broken Frame deep cut. This was the first release in Mute’s Bong catalog series (7BONG 1). The 12″ release contains an extended “Leave in Silence” subtitled ‘Longer’ (6:32) and a shorter version dubbed ‘Quieter’ (3:42), plus a lengthier version of the b-side titled “Further Excerpts From: My Secret Garden” (4:23, still shorter than the album track).

The “Leave In Silence” video makes heavy use of spherical imagery. It opens with a porthole view that cuts to boxed scenes of Depeche Mode striking round foods (eggs, tomatoes, oranges) with blunt objects (mallets, hammers, utensils) at a conveyor table. Director Julien Temple employs period green screen in assorted colors (red, blue, purple). This cuts to a white room, where the now white-clad, skin-colored members — Dave (blue), Martin (red), Andy (yellow), and Alan (green) — play with matching beach balls in slow motion.

“Leave in Silence” reached No. 13 in Ireland, No. 17 in Sweden, and No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart. Depeche Mode mimed the song amid fluorescent columns (and Martin’s gong) on the September 2 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired “Leave in Silence” amid late-summer hits by ABC (“All of My Heart”), Chicago (“Hard to Say I’m Sorry”), Culture Club (“Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”), Duran Duran (“Save a Prayer”), Evelyn “Champagne” King (“Love Come Down”), Fat Larry’s Band (“Zoom”), Musical Youth (“Pass the Dutchie”), Shalamar (“There It Is”), Simple Minds (“Glittering Prize”), Survivor (“Eye of the Tiger”), UB40 (“So Here I Am”), and erstwhile Damned bassist Captain Sensible (“Wot”).

A Broken Frame reached No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 22 in Sweden. It peaked just outside the New Zealand Top 40.


1983


“Get the Balance Right!”

On January 31, 1983, Depeche Mode released the standalone single “Get the Balance Right!” backed with “The Great Outdoors!” (7BONG 2). This is their first release with musical input by Alan Wilder, who co-wrote the b-side with Martin Gore. The band co-produced both sides with Daniel Miller in December 1982 at Blackwing.

A. “Get the Balance Right!” (3:12)
B. “The Great Outdoors!” (5:01)

Mute’s 12″ release contains a double-length “Get the Balance Right!” dubbed the ‘Combination Mix’ (7:56) and a third track: a live version of Gore’s Speak & Spell number “Tora! Tora! Tora!” from an October 25 show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon.

In the “Get the Balance Right!” video, Depeche Mode shift through guises, starting as lab techs. Dave and Alan observe the play and study habits of a small boy in a white room. Depeche Mode morph into ushers, then reappear suited inside a casino, where white-coated men rob the game machines and (back in the lab) dump cash on the table. Depeche Mode reappear as ride-goers at a carnival, where the white coats hijack the bumper cars and mess with the circuitry. Though Gahan sings the song, Wilder lip syncs the opening lines due to director Kevin Hewitt’s initial unfamiliarity with the lineup.

“Get the Balance Right!” peaked at No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 16 in Ireland. A dressed-down Depeche Mode mimed the song amid Christmas-lighted construction columns and ring-lighted foot panels on the February 10 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired “Get the Balance Right!” amid winter hits by The Belle Stars (“Sign of the Times”), Bonnie Tyler (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”), Central Line (“Nature Boy”), China Crisis (“Christian”), Eurythmics (“Sweet Dreams”), Kajagoogoo (“Too Shy”), Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes (“Up Where We Belong”), Kajagoogoo (“Too Shy”), Level 42 (“The Chinese Way”), Men at Work (“Down Under”), Michael Jackson (“Billie Jean”), Spandau Ballet (“Communication”), Thompson Twins (“Love On Your Side”), and Toto (“Africa”).


Construction Time Again

Depeche Mode released their third album, Construction Time Again, on August 22, 1983, on Mute and Sire. This is the first album of the classic four-piece lineup composed of singer Dave Gahan and keyboardists Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and newcomer Alan Wilder.

Construction Time Again features seven Gore originals, including “More Than a Party” and the singles “Love, in Itself” and “Everything Counts.” Wilder submits two numbers: “Two Minute Warning” and “The Landscape Is Changing.”

Gore debuts as a lead vocalist on “Pipeline” and harmonizes with Gahan on “Shame.” Wilder sings third harmonies on “Everything Counts,” an early band signature that marks their embrace of pitch percussion and wind instruments.

1. “Love, in Itself” (4:29)
2. “More Than a Party” (4:45)
3. “Pipeline” (5:54)
4. “Everything Counts” (4:20)

5. “Two Minute Warning” (4:13)
6. “Shame” (3:51)
7. “The Landscape Is Changing” (4:49)
8. “Told You So” (4:26)
9. “And Then…” (includes the hidden track “Everything Counts (Reprise)”) (5:39)

Depeche Mode co-produced Construction Time Again with Daniel Miller at The Garden, a London recording facility owned by former Ultravox frontman John Foxx, who encouraged his engineer Gareth Jones to work with the band. Jones (credited as ‘tonmeister’) engineered Foxx’s 1980 classic Metamatic and recent titles by Albania, Tuxedomoon, and the Continental acts Allez Allez and Idea.

Addition sessions took place at the Hansa Mischraum, a famed facility near the Berlin Wall used for classic albums by David Bowie (Low, “Heroes”), Iggy Pop (The Idiot, Lust for Life), Tangerine Dream (Force Majeure, Tangram), and Edgar Froese (Stuntman). “Two Minute Warning” credits the engineering assistance of Corinne Simcock, a soundwoman on albums by The Boomtown Rats, Limelight, The Passions, and two tracks (“Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” “Running Across Thin Ice With Tigers”) on Foxx’s 1983 Virgin release The Golden Section.

Martyn Atkins employs slanted yellow typeface on the Construction Time Again cover, which Brian Griffin photographed in the Swiss Alps near Matterhorn mountain. The sledgehammer-wielding miner is portrayed by the ex-Marine brother of Griffin’s assistant Stuart Graehame.>

The inner-sleeve and accompanying single feature doodles of the miner by Ian Wright, whose illustrations also appears on 1982 sleeves for Any Trouble, Dalek I Love You, Flash & The Pan, and Landscape. Griffin’s photography also appears on covers to 1983 albums by Freur, John Foxx, Rupert Hine, Wang Chung, and Brian’s other main client Echo & The Bunnymen (Porcupine). Atkins design-work appears on the sleeve to the 1983 Mute 12″ “Never Never” by The Assembly, the post-Yazoo project of Vince Clarke with early Depeche Mode engineer Eric Radcliffe.

Depeche Mode lifted “Everything Counts” on July 11 as the lead single with the non-album “Work Hard,” a Gore–Wilder composition.

B. “Work Hard” (4:21)

In the “Everything Counts” video, Martin and Alan appear on shawm and marimba (respectively) amid the people, lights, bridges, and buildings of Berlin, where translucent images of a dancing Dave (sideways throughout) and the others — grouped in order from tallest (Andy) to shortest (Martin) — lip sync through the clip. “Everything Counts” reunited Depeche Mode with “Just Can’t Get Enough” director Clive Richardson, who also directed the 1983 video to “Change” by Tears for Fears.

“Everything Counts” reached No. 10 in the Netherlands, No. 8 in Switzerland, and No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart. The single went Top 20 in Ireland (No. 15), Italy (No. 17), and Sweden (No. 18). In the US, “Everything Counts” reached No. 17 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

Depeche Mode mimed “Everything Counts” amid flashing red lights and cagey stage contraptions on the July 28 broadcast of TotP, which also featured summer hits by Bananarama (“Cruel Summer”), The Creatures (“Right Now”), George Benson (“Feel Like Makin’ Love”), Heaven 17 (“Come Live With Me”), Herbie Hancock (“Rockit”), The Lotus Eaters (“The First Picture of You”), Paul Young (“Wherever I Lay My Hat”), Robert Plant (“Big Log”), Spandau Ballet (“Gold”), and The Style Council (“Long Hot Summer”). In Mode’s segment, Andy plays the shawm and Dave sports highlighted hair.

On September 19, Depeche Mode lifted “Love, in Itself” as the second Construction single backed with the exclusive “Fools,” a Wilder sole-write. The sleeve features further imagery from Griffin’s Matterhorn photoshoot with the same typeface.

B. “Fools” (4:14)

In the Richardson-directed “Love, in Itself” video, Depeche Mode wander through a quarry amid backdrop scenes of construction towers, steam trains, and molten metalworking. Martin plays acoustic guitar in the middle. As in the prior video, the members appears as translucent subjects, often in height order (Dave excepted) with wind instruments (profile view). Alan, Andy, and Martin march toward the camera collectively and individually with stern eyes to the viewer — a famous hallmark of their next video.

“Love, in Itself” reached No. 5 in the Netherlands and peaked just outside the UK Top 20. Depeche Mode mimed the song between zigzag color columns on the October 6 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired “Love, in Itself” amid autumn hits by The Alarm (“68 Guns”), Billy Joel (“Uptown Girl”), Culture Club (“Karma Chameleon”), David Bowie (“Modern Love”), Elton John (“Kiss the Bride”), Freeez (“Pop Goes My Love”), Gary Numan (“Sister Surprise”), Howard Jones (“New Song”), Meat Loaf (“Midnight at the Lost and Found”), Men Without Hats (“The Safety Dance”), and New Order (“Blue Monday”). Martin switches between acoustic guitar, marimba, and keyboard in Mode’s segment.

Construction Time Again reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 7 in Germany, and No. 12 in Sweden.


1984


“People Are People”

On March 12, 1984, Depeche Mode released their tenth single: “People Are People,” a Martin Gore-penned broadside on war and prejudice backed with “In Your Memory,” an Alan Wilder number. It became the band’s first UK Top 5 single and their breakthrough US hit. Depeche Mode co-produced both sides in Berlin at Hansa Mischraum Studio with Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones.

A. “People Are People” (3:43)
B. “In Your Memory” (4:01)

Mute released three versions of the single: a standard 7″ (7Bong 5) and two 12″ versions. The two-track 12″ (12 BONG 5) contains extended versions of both songs: “People Are People” (Different Mix – 7:11) and “In Your Memory” (Slik Mix – 8:12). The three-track 12″ (L12 BONG 5) contains the two 7″ tracks and a second extended version of “People Are People” (On-USound Mix by Adrian Sherwood – 7:30).

In the “People Are People” video, Depeche Mode work the boiler room functions of a Navy vessel amid clips of WWII maritime footage. Director Clive Richardson captures Dave Gahan’s trademark expressions and gesticulations from a side-angle and (unlike “Love, in Itself”) face-to-lens. As Dave and Martin sing call-and-response, their translucent profiles zoom amid forties newsreel clips of Europe’s marching legions. Martin, Andy, and Alan march toward the lens (multi-vision) on the chorus chant.

“People Are People” reached No. 1 in Germany, No. 2 in Ireland, and No. 3 in Belgium. It peaked at No. 4 in the UK and Switzerland. “People Are People” also went Top 10 in Austria (No. 6), the Netherlands (No. 8), and Norway (No. 10). It became their breakthrough hit in the United States, where high MTV rotation helped push “People Are People” to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 16 on the Cashbox Top 100. The song peaked at No. 15 in Canada and Sweden (Mode’s earliest market outside the UK).

A black-clad Depeche Mode mimed “People Are People” amid flashing neon polygons and spinning color columns on the March 22 broadcast of TotP, which also featured spring ’84 hits by Bananarama (“Robert De Niro’s Waiting”), Culture Club (“It’s a Miracle”), Sade (“Your Love Is King”), and UB40 (“Cherry Oh Baby”).


Some Great Reward

Depeche Mode released their fourth album, Some Great Reward, on September 24, 1984, on Mute and Sire. It contains “People Are People,” the pre-released anti-war anthem that later served as their US breakthrough hit. This is the second album of the classic four-piece lineup: singer Dave Gahan and keyboardist–percussionists Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Alan Wilder.

Some Great Reward contains eight Gore originals, including “People Are People” and the followup singles “Master and Servant” and “Blasphemous Rumours.” Wilder submits the penultimate track “If You Want.”

Gore sings lead on “It Doesn’t Matter” and “Somebody” and harmonizes with Dave on “Something to Do,” “People Are People,” and “Blasphemous Rumours.” Musically, Some Great Reward marks Depeche Mode’s combination of percussive industrial sounds with electronic rock.

1. “Something to Do” (3:45)
2. “Lie to Me” (5:04)
3. “People Are People” (3:52)
4. “It Doesn’t Matter” (4:45)
5. “Stories of Old” (3:12)

6. “Somebody” (4:26)
7. “Master and Servant” (4:13)
8. “If You Want” (4:40)
9. “Blasphemous Rumours” (6:21)

Sessions took place between January and August 1984 at Music Works in Highbury, London, and the Hansa Mischraum in Berlin. Depeche Mode co-produced Some Great Reward with Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones, who also worked on 1984 releases by Fad Gadget, Palais Schaumburg, and Tuxedomoon singer and multi-instrumentalist Blaine L. Reininger.

Brian Griffin photographed the Some Great Reward cover at the Round Oak Steelworks in Brierley Hill. Martyn Atkins (in cooperation with T&CP associates David A. Jones and Mark Higenbottam) designed the album’s graphics, which place the “m” in Mode inside a wrench-shaped “d” on the back cover and LP labels. The inner-sleeve carries the factory theme with blue line art of industrial tools (screws, drills, etc.)

Depeche Mode lifted “Master and Servant” on August 20 as the second advance single (3:46), backed with “(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me,” a non-album Gore number.

B. “(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me” (4:12)

In the “Master and Servant” video, Depeche Mode sing to a pan-down lens and engage in chain play amid sixties stock footage of housewives and manual laborers. A gray-suited Dave performs as a holograph against urban aerial shots and political newsreels.

The “Master and Servant” 12″ (12 BONG 6) contains a long version dubbed the ‘Slavery Whip Mix’ (9:38) backed with a ‘Voxless’ version (4:00) and a double-length “(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me” (Release Mix – 8:49). In Germany, Mute issued a marble-vinyl 12″ with a version of “Master and Servant” subtitled ‘An ON-USound Science Fiction Dance Hall Classic’ (4:34) and a “People Are People” remix titled “Are People People?” (4:29).

“Master and Servant” reached No. 2 in West Germany and No. 4 in Denmark. It peaked at No. 6 in Belgium and Ireland and also went Top 10 in Sweden (No. 7) and Switzerland (No. 8). In the UK, “Master and Servant” peaked at No. 9 — their fifth home-country Top 10.

Depeche Mode mimed “Master and Servant” on a turquoise-lighted stage equipped with flared bar fixtures for the August 30 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the song amid summer ’84 hits by Aztec Camera (“All I Need Is Everything”), George Michael (“Careless Whisper”), Howard Jones (“Like To Get To Know You Well”), The Smiths (“William, It Was Really Nothing”), Tears for Fears (“Mothers Talk”), and U2 (“Pride”).

On October 29, Depeche Mode released an edit of “Blasphemous Rumours” (5:06) as the third Great Reward a-side, backed with a remix of the album track “Somebody” (4:19).

In the “Blasphemous Rumours” video, Alan and Martin take hammers to metal on a foggy red-lighted stage, where Andy plays under a lighted pyramid and Dave emotes to a fawning crowd.

Mute also issued the single as a four-song maxi 7″ (7Bong7E) with live versions of the Contruction tracks “Everything Counts” (5:53) and “Told You So (Live Version)” (4:54). The 12″ release (12Bong7) contains the album-length “Blasphemous Rumours” and a live “Somebody” (4:26) and “Everything Counts,” plus live versions of Wilder’s Contruction number “Two Minute Warning” (4:36) and the 1981 b-side “Ice Machine” (3:45).

“Blasphemous Rumours” reached No. 8 in Ireland and peaked at No. 19 in Switzerland and No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart.

Depeche Mode mimed “Blasphemous Rumours” amid sparking lights and turquoise–lavender tints on the November 8 broadcast of TotP, which also featured autumn ’84 hits by ex-Yazoo singer Alison Moyet (“All Cried Out”), Billy Ocean (“Caribbean Queen”), Chaka Khan (“I Feel For You”), Chicago (“Hard Habit to Break”), Gary Numan (“Berserker”), Status Quo (“The Wanderer”), ZZ Top (“Gimme All Your Lovin’”), and ex-Kajagoogoo singer Limahl (“Never Ending Story”). In Mode’s segment, Martin plays the spokes of a bicycle wheel while Alan (leather jacket) hammers concrete blocks and Dave (houndstooth jacket) croons to the (largely female) studio audience.

Some Great Reward reached No. 3 in Germany and No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart. It also reached No. 5 in Switzerland, No. 7 in Sweden, and peaked at No. 19 in Austria. In North America, Some Great Reward peaked at No. 34 in Canada and No. 51 on the US Billboard 200.


1985–1986


“Shake the Disease”

On April 29, 1985, Depeche Mode released their thirteenth single: “Shake the Disease” backed with “Flexible,” both Martin Gore compositions. They co-produced both songs in March at Hansa Mischraum with Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones.

A. “Shake the Disease” (4:48)
B. “Flexible” (3:11)

In the “Shake the Disease” video, each member appears in a separate section of a derelict house, where the lens pans their shadowy faces and bleak surroundings. They cut to the London Docklands, where Andy’s bleached hair and Dave’s platinum highlights come into full view. “Shake the Disease” is the first of three Depeche Mode videos with Sheffield School of Art graduate Peter Care, who also directed 1984–85 videos for ABC (“Be Near Me”), Cabaret Voltaire (“Sensoria”), Killing Joke (“Love Like Blood”), and Scritti Politti (“Hypnotize”).

In North America, Sire issued the single with a fade-out version of “Shake the Disease” (3:59). The Mute 12″ (12 BONG 8) contains extended Flood remixes of “Shake the Disease” (8:44) and “Flexible” (6:15). In France and Italy, Mute issued a maxi-cassette version with a second extended edit (7:10) and a Gareth Jones ‘Metalmix’ of the Great Reward track “Something to Do” (7:26), plus a live version of “Master and Servant” (5:37) from Depeche Mode’s November 30, 1984, show in Basel, Switzerland.

“Shake the Disease” reached No. 2 in the Netherlands and No. 4 in West Germany. It also went Top 10 in Sweden (No. 5), Switzerland (No. 6), and Ireland (No. 9). “Shake the Disease” peaked at No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart.

Depeche Mode mimed “Shake the Disease” amid spinning lavender-light fixtures and arrowed neon columns on the May 16 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the song amid spring ’85 hits by Animotion (“Obsession”), Bryan Ferry (“Slave to Love”), Duran Duran (“A View to a Kill”), Gary Moore & Phil Lynott (“Out In the Fields”), Go West (“Call Me”), Loose Ends (“Magic Touch”), Marillion (“Kayleigh”), Paul Hardcastle (“19”), The Power Station (“Get It On”), Scritti Politti (“The Word Girl”), and Stephen Tin Tin Duffy (“Icing On the Cake”). In Mode’s segment, Dave (gray tunic blazer) bangs his tambourine before green-hatted audience members.


“It’s Called a Heart”

On September 16, 1985, Depeche Mode released their fourteenth single: “It’s Called a Heart” backed with “Fly on the Windscreen,” both Martin Gore compositions. Depeche Mode co-produced the songs with Daniel Miller in July 1985 at Genetic Studios, Streatley. This is their second consecutive (fourth overall) non-album single.

A. “It’s Called a Heart” (3:48)
B. “Fly on the Windscreen” (5:03)

In the Care-directed video to “It’s Called a Heart,” Depeche Mode situate in a jungle, where Alan and Martin play with makeshift percussion and follow Dave through tall shrubbery with voodoo heads on sticks. They come to a lakeside where Dave appears on a standalone TV screen while the others engage in a costumed fireside ritual.

The Mute 12″ (12 BONG 9) contains extended versions of  “It’s Called a Heart” (7:19) and “Fly on the Windscreen” (7:47). The double-pack (D12 BONG 9) contains the extended versions and Gareth Jones remixes of “Heart” (Slow Mix – 4:49) and “Windscreen” (Death Mix – 5:06).

“It’s Called a Heart” reached No. 5 in Ireland and No. 7 in Sweden and Switzerland. It peaked at No. 8 in West Germany and No. 11 in Finland. Like its predecessor, “It’s Called a Heart” went to No. 1 on the UK Indie chart and peaked at No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart.

Depeche Mode mimed “It’s Called a Heart” on a sub-level stage under green and violet ceiling lights on the September 26 broadcast of TotP, which also featured autumn ’85 hits by Bonnie Tyler (“Holding Out for a Hero”), The Damned (“Is It a Dream?”), Dead Or Alive (“My Heart Goes Bang”), The Style Council (“The Lodgers”), and the video to the David Bowie / Mick Jagger cover of the Martha & The Vandellas Motown classic “Dancing In the Street,” covered as a tie-in to the recent Live Aid concerts. In Mode’s “It’s Called a Heart” segment, Dave lip syncs in a long trench coat while the others double between keyboards and tribal variations of the xylophone (Martin), gong (Andy), and kettle drum (Alan).


The Singles 81→85

In October 1985, Mute released The Singles 81→85, a thirteen-track compilation of Depeche Mode singles from the Clarke era to the recent non-album sides. It contains two tracks each from Speak & Spell (“New Life,” “Just Can’t Get Enough”), A Broken Frame (“See You,” “Leave in Silence”), Construction Time Again (“Everything Counts,” “Love, in Itself”), and three from Some Great Reward (“People Are People,” “Master and Servant,” “Blasphemous Rumours”), plus the non-album singles “Dreaming of Me,” “Get the Balance Right!” and the recent “Shake the Disease” and “It’s Called a Heart.” The CD contains two additional tracks: the Broken Frame a-side “The Meaning of Love” and the Great Reward deep cut “Somebody.”

The Singles 81→85 is the first UK Depeche Mode release with the band pictured on the cover. The photographer, Eric Watson, directed the early Pet Shop Boys videos “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” and “Suburbia.” The compilation reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 9 in Germany.

Sire repackaged the 81→85 contents as Catching Up with Depeche Mode, the band’s second US compilation.


Black Celebration

Depeche Mode released their fifth album, Black Celebration, on March 17, 1986, on Mute and Sire. This is the fourth album of the classic four-piece lineup: singer Dave Gahan and keyboardist–percussionists Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Alan Wilder.

Black Celebration contains eleven Gore originals, including the singles “Stripped,” “A Question of Lust,” and “A Question of Time.” Gore sings lead on four numbers: “Sometimes,” “It Doesn’t Matter Two,” “World Full of Nothing,” and the ballad “A Question of Lust,” Depeche Mode’s second MTV staple. He harmonizes with Dave on “Here Is the House” and “Dressed in Black.”

Black Celebration is the last of five Depeche Mode studio albums co-produced by Mute founder Daniel Miller. Musically, it marks their immersion in dark sounds that carry over to the next album.

1. “Black Celebration” (4:55)
2. “Fly on the Windscreen – Final” (5:18)
3. “A Question of Lust” (4:20)
4. “Sometimes” (1:53)
5. “It Doesn’t Matter Two” (2:50)

6. “A Question of Time” (4:10)
7. “Stripped” (4:16)
8. “Here Is the House” (4:15)
9. “World Full of Nothing” (2:50)
10. “Dressed in Black” (2:32)
11. “New Dress” (3:42)

Sessions took place between November 1985 and January 1986 at Hansa Mischraum and Genetic Studios, a mansion facility in Reading, Berkshire, owned by Human League producer Martin Rushent.

Depeche Mode co-produced the album with Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones, who both worked on Black Celebration in sequence with 1986 Mute releases by ex-Fad Gadget mastermind Frank Tovey (Snakes & Ladders) and reformed late-seventies post-punks Wire (Snakedrill). Jones also engineered concurrent titles by Holger Hiller, Ministry, and the Forbidden Fruit release Truthdare Doubledare, the first Bronski Beat album after the departure of singer Jimmy Somerville. “Fly On the Windscreen” gives engineering credit to Dare soundman Dave Allen, who also worked on 1985–86 titles by The Cure (The Head on the Door) and The Chameleons.

Black Celebration is housed in an embossed cover with a futurist building image credited to Depeche Mode’s veteran visual team: designer Martyn Atkins and photographer Brian Griffin. The impressed symbols on the matte black margins correlate to song titles, as indicated on the lyrical inner-sleeve.

February 10, 1986, Depeche Mode released “Stripped” as the advance single backed with the non-album “But Not Tonight,” both Martin Gore compositions.

B. “But Not Tonight” (4:15)

In the “Stripped” video, a raven-haired Dave emerges amid winter trees in deep-blue smoke. The trench-coated band descends on a junk yard, where they take hammers to a windshield and project themselves on giant hand-held video screens near passing cars. “Stripped” is the last of three Depeche Mode videos with Peter Care, who also directed 1986 videos for Bananarama (“Venus”), It’s Immaterial (“Driving Away from Home”), Public Image Ltd. (“Rise”), and Robbie Nevil (“C’est la Vie”).

The Mute 12″ (12Bong10) contains an ‘Highland Mix’ of “Stripped” (6:42) and an extended remix of “But Not Tonight (5:13), plus a ‘Quiet Mix’ of the prior b-side “Fly on the Windscreen” (4:24) and two additional non-album b-sides: “Breathing in Fumes” (comprised of “Stripped” samples – 6:07) and “Black Day” (2:37), an acoustic version of “Black Celebration” sung by Gore, who co-wrote it with Wilder and Miller (his only Depeche Mode writing credit).

“Stripped” reached No. 4 in West Germany and No. 6 in Ireland. It also went Top 10 in Switzerland (No. 8), Sweden (No. 9), and Finland (No. 10). “Stripped” peaked at No. 15 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 16 in Italy.

Depeche Mode mimed “Stripped” amid pink arrowed columns and a stage-prop motorcycle on the February 20 broadcast of TotP, which also aired winter hits by Billy Ocean (“When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Get Going”), The Damned (“Eloise”), Diana Ross (“Chain Reaction”), PiL (“Rise”), and Survivor (“Burning Heart”).

On April 14, Depeche Mode lifted “A Question of Lust” as the second single, backed with the non-album “Christmas Island,” a Gore–Wilder number.

B. “Christmas Island” (4:51)

The video to “A Question of Lust” focuses on singer Martin Gore. On each verse, his zoomed profile appears translucent over silhouettes of Dave and Alan. Each chorus cuts to a cross-lined, red-lit stage, where Gore approaches the audience in black military fatigue and turns his tender face to the lens. For this video, Depeche Mode reunited with Construction-era director Clive Richardson.

The Mute 12″ single (12Bong11) contains an extended “Christmas Island” (5:37) and an instrumental version of the album track “It Doesn’t Matter Two,” plus a live “People Are People” and a ‘minimal’ remix of “A Question of Lust” (6:49). The German cassette single (CBong11) contains a Flood remix of “A Question of Lust” (5:07) with half the instruments removed (purportedly because Mute didn’t send him both multi-track tapes.)

“A Question of Lust” reached No. 18 in West Germany and made the Top 20 in Switzerland (No. 12), Ireland (No. 13), Finland (No. 15), Sweden (No. 17), and the Netherlands (No. 19). “A Question of Lust” peaked at No. 28 on the UK Singles Chart.

On August 11, Depeche Mode lifted “A Question of Time” as the third single, backed with a live version of “Black Celebration” (6:05) from their April 10 Birmingham N.E.C. show.

The video to “A Question of Time” is their first with Dutch filmmaker Anton Corbijn. The monochrome video intermixes Depeche Mode live footage with a vignette of a motorcyclist on the Arizona (?) outback. He picks up a toddler, loads it into his sidecar, then drives to a SoCal painted lady, where he hands the child to Alan, who takes it inside and hands it to Dave. Each member takes turns holding the child, who crawls bare-bum across a floor-clock in the final scene.

The Mute 12″ (12Bong12) contains an extended remix of “A Question of Time” (6:38) by Marquee Studios veteran and Killing Joke engineer Phil Harding. The 12″ contains two additional Birmingham live numbers: “Stripped (6:21) and the Great Reward track “Something to Do” (3:50). An alternate 12″ (L12Bong12) contains a live rendition of the Construction number “More Than a Party” (5:05) and a remix of “Black Celebration” dubbed the ‘Black Tulip Mix’ (6:32) by ex-Lines guitarist Rico Conning, a soundman on 1985–86 releases by Colourbox, Etienne Daho, Jah Wobble, Laibach, The Palookas, and Swans.

“A Question of Time” reached No. 4 in Germany and No. 5 in the Netherlands. It also went Top 10 in Switzerland (No. 9), Ireland (No. 10), and Top 20 in Finland (No. 14), Sweden (No. 18), and the UK (No. 17).

Depeche Mode mimed “A Question of Time” amid flashing pink–white lights and neon polygons, spirals, and zigzags on the August 21 broadcast of TotP, which also featured summer ’86 hits by Bruce Hornsby & The Range (“The Way It Is”), The Communards (“Don’t Leave Me This Way”), The Human League (“Human”), Janet Jackson (“When I Think of You”), Jermaine Stewart (“We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off”), Peter Cetera (“Glory of Love”), and Prince (“Girls and Boys”).

In October, Sire issued “But Not Tonight” as a single, backed with its UK a-side “Stripped,” effectively reversing the February UK single. The Robert Margouleff Remix appears on the soundtrack to Modern Girls, an American comedy film about three roommates on the LA night scene. Future filmmaker Tamra Davis directed the “But Not Tonight” video, which intermixes movie scenes with blue-tinted footage of Depeche Mode on a soundstage with running film projections. The Modern Girls soundtrack also contains songs by Icehouse (“No Promises”), The Jesus and Mary Chain (“Some Candy Talking”), Floy Joy (“Weak In the Presence of Beauty”), Toni Basil (“Girls Night Out”), and Club Nouveau (“Jealousy”).

Black Celebration reached No. 1 on the Swiss Albums Chart and No. 2 in Germany. The album peaked at No. 5 in Sweden, No. 9 in Italy, and No. 11 in France. Black Celebration became the third consecutive Depeche Mode album to peak one place higher than its precedessor on the UK Albums Chart, where it reached No. 4.

The album signaled newfound fame in the US market, where Sire added “But Not Tonight” as a twelfth track.


1987–1988


“Strangelove”

On April 13, 1987, Depeche Mode released their eighteenth single (BONG 13): “Strangelove” backed with “Pimpf,” both Martin Gore numbers. The four-track 12″ version (L12 BONG 13) contains a third Gore exclusive, “Agent Orange.”

A. “Strangelove” (3:45)
B1. “Pimpf” (4:33)
B1. “Agent Orange” (5:05)

Anton Corbijn (the band’s video director henceforth) filmed the “Strangelove” video in monochrome Super 8 in Paris, where scenes of Depeche Mode intercut with two high-style women who walk the streets (one with her bulldog) and pose indoors in masks and leather garments. The band appear side-to-side (silhouetted and visible) with and without shades. Each raises his right palm, marked with a letter to spell out L-O-V-E.

Corbijn also directed a video for “Pimpf,” in which a nail-painted Martin plays piano inside a ramshackle desert hut topped with a hand-painted sign that reads “museo depeche m ode.” Dave, Alan, and Andy (all sporting leather jackets and shades) roam the desert hills in search of something. A sign that reads “pimpf” points them to the hut, where they knock on the door (no reply as Martin plays on inside) and knock on the walls until the facade topples. (Though Martin plays piano in the video, Alan plays all studio piano on this and other Depeche Mode recordings of the period.)

Depeche Mode co-produced the single with David Bascombe, a soundman on mid-eighties titles by Love and Money, Peter Gabriel, Red Box, Tears for Fears (Songs From the Big Chair), Terraplane, Vitamin Z, and Zerra One. Daniel Miller remixed “Strangelove” for inclusion on Depeche Mode’s subsequent studio album.

Mute issued a standard 12″ single (12 BONG 13) with alternate “Strangelove” mixes dubbed ‘Maxi Mix’ (6:32) and ‘Midi Mix’ (1:38), plus a version of “Pimpf” titled “Fpmip” (5:23) appended with 48 seconds of the song played backward (hence the title). The L12 release with both b-sides contains two alternate “Strangelove” mixes: ‘Blind Mix’ (6:31) and ‘Pain Mix’ (7:19), the latter by Phil Harding. The longest “Strangelove” appears on a two-track 12″ (DANCE BONG 13) that contains Hardings ‘Fresh Ground Mix’ (8:14).

“Strangelove” reached No. 2 in Finland, South Africa, and West Germany. It peaked at No. 3 in Denmark and Switzerland and No. 5 in Ireland and Sweden. “Strangelove” went Top 20 in Canada (No. 11), Spain (No. 12), Italy (No. 14), and Belgium (No. 20). Back home, “Strangelove” became Depeche Mode’s fifteenth Top 20 hit (No. 18) on the UK Singles Chart.

Depeche Mode mimed “Strangelove” under lilac–teal lights on the May 7 broadcast of TotP, which also featured spring ’87 hits by The Cult (“Lil’ Devil”), Europe (“Carrie”), Fleetwood Mac (“Big Love”), Living In a Box (“Living In a Box”), Spear of Destiny (“Never Take Me Alive”), and Sly & Robbie (“Boops (Here To Go)”).

Bomb the Bass (aka London musician–producer Timothy Simenon) remixed the song as “Strangelove ’88” for re-release in the US market, where this version reached No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 41 on the Cashbox Top 100, and No. 1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart. 


Music for the Masses

Depeche Mode released their sixth album, Music for the Masses, on September 28, 1987, on Sire. It features ten originals by keyboardist and co-vocalist Martin Gore, including a remix of the pre-released “Strangelove” and the followup singles “Never Let Me Down Again” and “Behind the Wheel,” all accompanied with scenic monochrome videos directed by Anton Corbijn.

Gore sings lead on “The Things You Said” and “I Want You Now” and harmonizes with main vocalist Dave Gahan on “Behind the Wheel.” Music for the Masses continues Depeche Mode’s use of samples and advances the dark vibe of Black Celebration.

The album’s title refers to the ironic predicament of their transatlantic breakthrough, which coincided with their most uncompromised period of music-making.

1. “Never Let Me Down Again” (4:47)
2. “The Things You Said” (4:02)
3. “Strangelove” (4:56)
4. “Sacred” (4:47)
5. “Little 15” (4:18)

6. “Behind the Wheel” (5:18)
7. “I Want You Now” 3:44)
8. “To Have and to Hold” (2:51)
9. “Nothing” (4:18)
10. “Pimpf” (4:55, includes “Interlude #1 (Mission Impossible)”) Gore

Sessions took place between February and July 1987 at Guillaume Tell Studios in Paris and Konk Studios in London; the latter owned by Kinks frontman Ray Davies. Depeche Mode co-produced Music for the Masses with engineer David Bascombe, who also worked on 1987 albums by Danny Wilson (Meet Danny Wilson), The Silencers, and The Triffids. Mix-downs occurred at Puk Studios in Gjerlev, Denmark. Depeche Mode’s longtime soundman Daniel Miller stepped aside for this release but is credited with “additional production.”

Music for the Masses is housed in a textured beige cover with a landscape photo of three red megaphones against a deep-blue sky. The megaphones (a feature of the album’s accompanying videos) also appear on a hilltop (back) and random scenic locations (inner-sleeve) in England’s Peak District. Martyn Atkins designed the cover with T&CP associates David Jones and Mark Higenbottam. This is the final T&CP Depeche Mode album sleeve. The three take photographic credit.

On August 24, Depeche Mode released “Never Let Me Down Again” as the second advance single backed with the non-album Gore number “Pleasure, Little Treasure.” The 12″ (12Bong14) contains a double-plus “Never Let Me Down” remixed dubbed the ‘Split Mix’ (9:34).

B. “Pleasure, Little Treasure” (2:52) The 12″ contains a longer version subtitled ‘Glitter Mix’ (5:34).

The “Never Let Me Down Again” video is the fourth straight Depeche Mode clip filmed in monochrome Super 8 by Anton Corbijn. It takes place in a valley where an old man joins Dave, who’s seated face-down next to a pot of coffee. Dave awakens for the first verse as his bandmates descend on the valley in vintage compact cars. Martin plays accordion as Alan paces the field. Both spring into action as the old man raises his cane in the wheat field while Dave (silhouetted) circles the acreage. He mimics the field scarecrow and collapses (offscreen), prompting Andy and Alan to help him stand. Alone in the dark, he slumps to the ground for the final chorus while Martin holds a night lamp and lip syncs the counter vocal.

“Never Let Me Down Again” reached No. 1 in Denmark and No. 2 in West Germany. It peaked at No. 5 in Finland and Spain and No. 7 in Sweden and Switzerland. The single went Top 20 in Ireland (No. 12), South Africa (No. 15), and Italy (No. 19). “Never Let Me Down Again” peaked at No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, where MTV placed the video in high rotation, “Never Let Me Down Again” reached No. 63 on the Billboard Hot 100.

On December 28, 1987, Depeche Mode lifted “Behind the Wheel” as the third Masses single backed with a cover of the R&B standard “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.” 

B. “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” (4:11) originated as a 1946 Capitol a-side by Nat King Cole; written by songwriter–actor Bobby Troupe. In 1964, The Rolling Stones cut a version on their debut album. Depeche Mode covered the song as a thematic tie-in with “Behind the Wheel.” For the Mute 12″ single (12BONG15), the Beatmasters remixed “Route 66” (6:19) with sampled elements of the a-side. In April 1988, Sire issued a medley of “Route 66” and “Behind the Wheel” as the b-side to the standard BtW single edit.

In the Corbijn-directed monochrome Super 8 “Behind the Wheel” video, Dave (shaded) sits stranded as a tow truck takes his vintage car (from the “Never Let Me Down Again”) video. He stands on crutches and studies a map as a woman (also shaded) pulls up on a Vespa SS180. He tosses the crutches and rides as a pillon passenger to a Southwestern cafe, where Martin plays accordion and Andy operates a wheel of fortune. The two go inside, then reemerge without shades. A now-mustached Dave slow dances with her as the others clear the scene.

“Behind the Wheel” reached No. 6 in Switzerland and West Germany and No. 10 in Sweden. It went Top 20 in Finland  (No. 15), Ireland (No. 16), and Spain (No. 19) and peaked just outside (at No. 21) in the UK and France. In the US, the “Route 66–Behind the Wheel” medley reached No. 3 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, No. 10 on the US Dance Singles Sales chart, and No. 61 on the Hot 100.

Music for the Masses reached No. 2 on the German Albums Offizielle Top 100 and No. 4 on the Swedish and Swiss albums charts. The album peaked at No. 7 in Finland, France, and Italy and No. 10 in the UK. In North America, Music for the Masses reached No. 26 in Canada and No. 35 on the Billboard 200.

On May 16, 1988, Mute lifted “Little 15” as a fourth Masses single by demand in the European market. Group designer Martyn Atkins directed the maroon-tinted video at London’s Trellick Tower. The b-side is the non-album “Stjärna,” a Gore-composed, Wilder-performed piano instrumental. The 12″ contains a second Wilder-performed piano piece: “Moonlight Sonata #14” by Ludwig van Beethoven. “Little 15” reached No. 16 in West Germany and No. 18 in Switzerland.


1989–1990

101

“Personal Jesus” / “Dangerous”
Released: 28 August 1989


Violator

Depeche Mode released their seventh studio album, Violator, on March 19, 1990, on Sire. It features nine-originals by keyboardist and co-vocalist Martin Gore, including the pre-released “Personal Jesus” and the followup singles “Enjoy the Silence,” “Policy of Truth,” and “World in My Eyes.”

Gore sings lead on “Sweetest Perfection” and “Blue Dress” and harmonizes with main vocalist Dave Gahan on “Waiting for the Night.”

Violator was the Depeche Mode’s first Top 2 album in the UK (reversing a late-eighties dip in homeland popularity) and their first Top 10 album in the US (consolidating their slow growth in the American market).

1. “World in My Eyes” (4:26)
2. “Sweetest Perfection” (4:43)
3. “Personal Jesus” (4:56)
4. “Halo” (4:30)
5. “Waiting for the Night” (6:07)
6. “Enjoy the Silence” (6:12)
7. “Policy of Truth” (4:55)
8. “Blue Dress” (5:41)
9. “Clean” (5:32)

Sessions took place in 1989–90 at facilities in Milan (Logic), New York (Axis), and London (Church Studios, Master Rock). Depeche Mode co-produced Violator with Flood (aka Mark Ellis), who remixed the band’s Blank Celebration-era singles. Flood co-mixed “Enjoy the Silence” with the band’s former producer Daniel Miller. Former disco producer François Kevorkian (Musique, Sharon Redd) mixed the balance of Violator, which lists seven engineers, including Phil Legg, a co-founder of This Heat‘s Cold Storage studio who engineered eighties titels by Big Country, Lora Logic, Marine Girls, and The Waterboys.

Violator features a simple rose stem illustration on black by Depeche Mode video director Anton Corbijn and graphic designer Area, an illustrator on recent sleeves for The House of Love and Siouxsie’s Creatures.

“Enjoy the Silence” / “Memphisto” “Sibeling”
Released: 5 February 1990
“Policy of Truth” / “Kaleid”
Released: 7 May 1990
“World in My Eyes” / “Happiest Girl” “Sea of Sin”
Released: 17 September 1990

Violator became the first No. 1 Depeche Mode album on the Belgian, French, Greek, and Spanish charts. It peaked at No. 2 in Germany, Switzerland, and in their home country, where Violator reached a newfound Top 2 high on the UK Albums Chart. The album went Top 5 in Iceland (No. 3), Austria (No. 4) and Top 10 in Finland (No. 7) and Italy and Sweden (both No. 6). Violator also became their first Top 10 album in North America, where it reached No. 5 in Canada and No. 7 on the US Billboard 200.


Discography:

  • Speak & Spell (1981)
  • A Broken Frame (1982)
  • Construction Time Again (1983)
  • Some Great Reward (1984)
  • Black Celebration (1986)
  • Music for the Masses (1987)
  • 101 (live, 1989)
  • Violator (1990)

Sources:

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