Category: Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode – Construction Time Again

ARTIST: Depeche Mode             Depeche_Mode_-_Construction_Time_Again

TITLE: Construction Time Again

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION: #6 UK

SINGLES: Everything Counts (#17 Dance, #6 UK), Love, in Itself (#21 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not over in the US, no.

LINEUP: Martin Gore, Alan Wilder, David Gahan, Andy Fletcher

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An artistic turnaround, and the path forward for Depeche Mode.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Alan Wilder joined Depeche Mode as a full member for this album, and whether it was that, or Martin Gore’s evolution as a songwriter, Depeche Mode definitely moved in a positive direction.

The band was now adding depth to its sonic palette, with a darker mood, complex song structures, and samples of industrial-type sounds that helped add a more experimental edge to their sound. Vocals were also utilized as more than just a melody-carrier as well as the layered vocals with Gahan and the band added to the moody atmosphere.

“Everything Counts” got their first real notice in the US after their initial hit, even though it was just in clubs and dance floors. It also was a dance tune with a political message, which led the band to include more political and social messaging in its songs. More importantly, it had a hook to die for which got people moving.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Wilder wrote two songs on the album, and continued to contribute songs until his departure.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Originally the CD had a hidden track (a reprise of “Everything Counts”). In 2007, a deluxe version with their pre-album single “Get the Balance Right” (#13 UK, #31 US Dance), which set the stage for the album.

GRADE: A-:  Depeche Mode moves from just a synth-pop band to something more ambitious.

Depeche Mode – A Broken Frame

ARTIST: Depeche Mode                       220px-A_broken_frame_(Depeche_Mode_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE:  A Broken Frame

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #177 US, #8 UK

SINGLES: See You (#6 UK), The Meaning of Love (#12 UK), Leave in Silence (#18 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the electronic group finds them in trouble, with nothing compelling to say after Vince Clarke left.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Vince Clarke had left Depeche Mode to form Yazoo with Alison Moyet, leaving the group a trio. Martin Gore took over as leader, but this album found him lacking songs and vision and the group likewise suffering from sounding like leftovers.

To my ears, there’s nothing exciting, compelling, or even hooky about these songs. It burbles and beeps along, doing nothing but taking up time. If you’re a real Depeche Mode head, you’ll probably find something in here. As for me, I’m waiting until they get darker.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Alan Wilder joined them for the tour, and later became the fourth member of the group.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live tracks, outtakes, and the original US version had an additional instrumental.

GRADE: C: This doesn’t rouse me to do anything but exile it.

Depeche Mode – Speak & Spell

ARTIST: Depeche Mode 220px-DMSpeak&Spell
TITLE: Speak & Spell
YEAR RELEASED: 1981
CHART ACTION: #192 US, #10 UK
SINGLES: New Life (#29 US Dance, #11 UK), Just Can’t Get Enough (#26 US Dance, #8 UK), Dreaming of Me (#47 US Dance, #57 UK) was on the US vinyl release.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really, not here, unless you are really into Depeche Mode.
LINEUP: David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, Vince Clarke
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut record from the long-lasting electronic / synth band is kind of a light synth-pop workout instead of the brooding work of later years.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Many of us who are of the age to remember MTV videos do recall “Just Can’t Get Enough” with its bright cheery synth lines and Gahan’s baritone voice extolling the virtues of new love. Vince Clarke was the main songwriter and brains behind the band, and he definitely had a pop-oriented dance vision.

It’s decently crafted synth-pop from a production standpoint. It takes something from the electronic pop pioneers and added a more dance-oriented beat. Yet, there’s a lot of filler here – Clarke’s songwriting would improve (“Boys Say Go!” And “Nodisco!” are rather embarrassing) and Gahan’s voice isn’t quite suited for this brighter work. Just a few tracks will escape the exiling.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “What’s Your Name” is Gore and Fletcher’s least favorite Depeche Mode track.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the UK album version is out with the singles, B-sides and a couple of remixes added.

GRADE: C+: “Just Can’t Get Enough” upgrades this a grade. About half exiled. The whole thing is really for die-hards.