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Depeche Mode.


max renn
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I don’t mind the 12” box sets and actually own a couple of them. The price per disc is pretty much bang on for the normal going rate. 
 

Back in the day they did CD box sets of the singles (maybe 91-92?) which are one of my favourite things. Mind you, at that point it was a way to get hold of every official mix/release/b-side that you might otherwise have struggled to hear.

 

This book release feels like a crass Bono style move and completely lacks self-awareness. It feels like “thanks for making us rich, here’s something you’ll never afford”

 

To release it now when most people are also hurting financially is bizarre. 

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Interesting discussion. Am I the only person who has pretty much liked every album of theirs from and including Violator? (which was a pinnacle point.) This latter half of their stuff all seems to divide and disappoint people whenever I’ve read online responses, but to me almost all of it has been really enjoyable in different ways. Songs of Faith and Devotion, Ultra, Exciter, Playing the Angel, Sounds of the Universe, Delta Machine, Spirit...even if I don’t find the lyrics engaging / too clumsy on some of the later ones, the interesting electronic production, guitars and atmospheres have often hit the spot. Most of them have some really special songs, and the music almost always has some unusual inflexion, some harmonic movement, some surprising sonic twist to keep the material engaging. Ultra - while more straight-ahead on that end, in particular has some immediately gratifying and emotionally resonant songs that I always come back to. Even Exciter and Sounds of the Universe, which seemed to be particularly universally panned, create quite wonderful, albeit slightly easier-listening (but not to my ears bland) synth-lead journeys if you just let them play through. They're both underrated I think. 
I don’t like Spirit as much though; it’s a bit too blatant in terms of lyrics for me, and while the musical happenings are still sonically interesting, by the end I’m left feeling quite claustrophobic. 

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There's some great stuff scattered about after SOFAD, particularly on Ultra and Playing the Angel. The main reason I hardly listen to any of it is the mastering, it's all compressed to hell and is super fatiguing to listen to regardless of the content. Ultra even has a tonne of clipping on it.

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What I am though is extremely appreciative that they are still somehow going and the overpriced tat coming out, as well as the odd album, aren't posthumous partially finished sessions - every month in the 90s I'd buy the new Q or NME expecting to read about Dave Gahan ODing and on top of that they all hated each other so much the chances of them still going now were incredibly remote. 

 

Depeche Mode are one of my few 'bands for life' - their music seen me thru a lot and i'm incredibly attached to it and them. I never go very long without listening to something by them.

 

Even some of their 'newer' stuff (post Violator) is really strong, they always sound interesting and there are songs that really resonate for me, even if Martin & Dave are treading familiar territory lyrically.

 

Sounds of the Universe had some stonkers, Corrupt, Ghost, Wrong, In Chains. Ultra had Home which I used to hate and now just love it, its so uplifting & the epic sounding Its No Good. Even the last album had Cover Me which I think is epic. 

 

I've been listening to them for almost 40y now, not many bands you can say that about. 

 

I'll pass on the wanky art book though.

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4 hours ago, Rsdio said:

There's some great stuff scattered about after SOFAD, particularly on Ultra and Playing the Angel. The main reason I hardly listen to any of it is the mastering, it's all compressed to hell and is super fatiguing to listen to regardless of the content. Ultra even has a tonne of clipping on it.

 

Yes, that's absolutely true - forgot to mention that. I don't enjoy mastering when it is too "hot" / these causalities of the loudness wars anyway - but on a number of those albums even someone unaware of the issue would literally hear the clipping. My wife doesn't make music or know about mastering but has noticed something headache-inducing about the sound where music has been mastered too loud / is over-compressed or limited to that degree. I think Playing the Angel was the worst for this? I can't really listen to music so loud nowadays and don't use headphones much anymore, so maybe that's why it became a bit less of an issue. But I would gladly buy remasters of most of these albums...

 

@Gotters, I hear what you're saying and can relate to it all. This band means quite a lot to me too. I think they're pretty special and I'm surprised they've kept up this kind of pace.



 

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Apologies for starting the negative sentiment in here, for all my snarky comments I do still love the boys from Basildon.

 

I've been a big fan since being introduced to the Singles 81-85 from a mate at school.

He bought it on a school trip to see a play in Manchester where for some reason we were allowed to just wander about for a bit and ended up in HMV. After a few days he lent it to me and the rest is history.

 

It's fair to say that I've spent a lot of my life listening to and spending money on DM, and they're still my go to band. Their work up to and including Ultra is peerless IMO and that album should be regarded as a miracle. Even after near-death experiences, breakdowns and Alan leaving, they came back with songs including It's No Good, Home and the overlooked but a real fave of mine, Insight. Tim Simenon worked wonders, it really is a shame he left the music scene as I also loved Bomb the Bass.

 

Exciter was where it started going a little bit downhill. I do still think there's great songs in there but Mark Bell's minimalist production didn't have the depth needed to make them into classics. Not that he couldn't have done it, his track record with Bjork showed that he could produce huge sounding songs whereas Exciter is quite sparse.

DM did have a reputation for being lazy in the studio and letting the producer do all the work - Maybe without Alan to fill in the blanks Mark Bell didn't have a lot to work with. Shine is the standout track, and Dream On was a decent single.

If anyone asks though, The Dead of Night never happened. What a shocker of a track.

 

The descent into everything sounding murky definitely started with Playing the Angel - It's shockingly bad and used as one of the examples of the loudness wars.

http://brianstagg.co.uk/p_t_a_clipressed/

 

I still can't believe they've never remastered it with a decent dynamic range and re-released it. That's one reissue the fans would really get behind.

Precious was a good lead single but I don't find myself listening to this album like I do Black Celebration for example.

 

Sounds of the Universe carries on that distorted theme, as does Delta Machine to some extent. There are none of those sweet and clean sounding synths like the good old days, just more guitars and overdrive.

 

There's decent tracks among them, John the Revelator, Wrong, Broken and others.

 

Spirit is the latest (2017!) but showed a glimmer of hope - The bit on Going Backwards where Martin sings "Nothing Inside" as backing vocals to Dave has a real classic feel, and Cover Me is the best thing they've done in a long time. I would say that the distortion on the songs from the previous three albums feels like it's now used to cover up Dave's voice, rather than the instruments. I do still cringe at the "The Train is Coming" bit in Where's the Revolution though.

 

One other comment about post Ultra DM is remixes. The majority from the last few albums have typically been "4/4 dance track by numbers by generic DJ with snippet of Dave's vocal or a basic three note melody sample", rather than a proper reworking of a track. Again, there are exceptions to this rule like UNKLE's John the Revelator mix.

 

Anyways, just wanted to say that it's not all bad, and to expect a bunch of old men to bang out violator every 12 months is probably unrealistic.

 

Thanks for coming to my TED talk, that's my summary of "Third age" of DM.

First was the pop age - Speak & Spell to Some Great Reward.

Second is the Golden Age - Black Celebration to Ultra

Third is the Autopilot/Milking it a bit but still able to surprise age - Exciter to now

 

 

The book is still a piss take though :P

 

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On 22/10/2020 at 21:55, cubik said:

Even the devoted fans like me are ripping the piss out of this on twitter.

 

They're a long time past their peak and expect people to be paying that in the middle of a global pandemic & downturn? I still love them but this is just having a laugh. Yes, I know it's not compulsory to buy it but it feels like a piss take.

 

Greedy fuckers. Maybe Dave needs a new waistcoat or Fletch needs piano lessons?

 

 

How much for Kindle version? 

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39 minutes ago, idiwa said:

 

How much for Kindle version? 

Probably a fiver less.

 

I'm hoping they do release a more affordable soft cover version.

It'd go well with my copy of Anton's original DM photos book (Strangers) from 1990.

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I went back to buying DM on vinyl after Playing The Angel, which is a poor album anyway, but was actually painful to listen to on CD. I think there are gems galore post-Wilder, but generally disagree that PTA is the big return to form; both Sounds Of The Universe and Delta Machine are much, much better. Spirit is dreadful, though; I'd say it's their worst album. The tour was good, though.

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I guess that current circumstances meant that there was never going to be a performance, let alone one with Alan but at least he got inducted and his contribution recognised by the band during their speeches.

 

With all my complaining about their output over the last few years, I can't help but hope that next years brings something new from the boys.

As 2020 was such a stinker, by the law of averages 2021 should be an excellent year so fingers crossed for a new album with Alan as producer. That way they don't have to swallow their pride too much and him "back in the band" as such and his work is definitely credited.

 

I can but dream.

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It's a nice thought but I'm not even sure Alan has it anymore. Not that I begrudge him just wanting to enjoy life and watch his kids grow up but when he made the last Recoil album he said that it had been such a long time that he had to relearn how to use his studio... and that was in 2007. I took his gear sale as a sign that he's effectively retired now.

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  • 11 months later...

I thought the Soulsavers albums with Dave just blended into one lump, like a bunch of session musicians with big budget production values and Dave Gahan singing over the top. I can't fault their musicianship but it's not for me. Maybe the covers will mean an injection of external songwriters make this new album a bit more exciting.

 

One thing for DM fans to watch out for is a special edition of Record Collector, focusing solely on the boys from Basildon.

To celebrate the glory days, they've even used a picture with Alan* in it for the cover.

https://shop.recordcollectormag.com/product/RCDEPECHE/rc-presents-depeche-mode

 

 

 

 

*I know, let it go. He's gone and not coming back

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I like the first SS album they did together. Some great melodies on there and Gahan poured his heart out on the lyrics but the second one left me cold. New one has an interesting tracklisitng I like Metal Heart but it's a covers album so could go either way. 

 

I'd say 'just get the boys back together!' but not sure they've got another album left in them, let alone a great one.

 

Will pick up that Record Collector though for sure. Checking RC every month for new DM stuff was like a religion for those few years in the early 90s. I've sold most of the rarer stuff now but will be fun to see whether I could have retired early had I not sold it.

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36 minutes ago, KartoffelKopf said:

I like the first SS album they did together. Some great melodies on there and Gahan poured his heart out on the lyrics but the second one left me cold. New one has an interesting tracklisitng I like Metal Heart but it's a covers album so could go either way. 

 

I'd say 'just get the boys back together!' but not sure they've got another album left in them, let alone a great one.

 

Will pick up that Record Collector though for sure. Checking RC every month for new DM stuff was like a religion for those few years in the early 90s. I've sold most of the rarer stuff now but will be fun to see whether I could have retired early had I not sold it.

The crazy money only comes with stuff that's minty mint and/or sealed. All my DM collection is well played so that's scuppered my potential earnings.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gave it a listen this morning but don't think I'll be giving it another one. His version of Strange Religion is literally the same production and backing track but without Mark Lanegan's distinctive vocal, what's the point? Why you'd ever attempt a version of Lilac Wine when Jeff Buckley's already exists and he's somehow made Smile, a song about hope and optimism and wishing for a better tomorrow, sound like a death knell.

 

I'm sure he had a good time making it but it's just all so dreary. Sorry Dave.

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I'm giving it a listen, currently on track 4 (I Held My Baby Last Night).

 

Tracks 1-3 blended together into one snore fest, but 4 is something different altogether.

 

Unfortunately, it's the bad kind of different. The vocal performance reminds me of DM's The Dead of Night which is right up there in terms of worst songs ever recorded by a band I love. Dave's vocals are proper pub singer on this one and a bit cringey.

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Finished the listen and it's not for me. @KartoffelKopf summed it up with the word "dreary". There's a couple of tracks that are OK, but not enough to draw me in. I'll give it another go but that's just out of a sense of loyalty. I think it's the Soulsavers band style that I just don't like, modern day chamber music.

 

It's a brave but ultimately foolish move to close an album with a boring cover version of a song that is extremely famous for already having a great cover version.

 

After reading the interviews over the last few weeks and finally listening to the end result I think it's a case of Dave having a moment of self indulgence. To be fair to him though, he's earned it. I think I'll play some of their classic 12" remixes nice and loud tonight.

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I was looking on Amazon to see how much that DM:AC book is, and spotted this undiscovered classic.

I assume it's a typo but if not, I would love to see how they managed to combine the biographies of a synth music legend and a complete twunt from Eggheads.

 

dgbook.thumb.jpg.56360ec7dae5f82b0a860c2171395285.jpg

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The Soulsavers stuff is certainly a bit stodgy and over earnest, though there were a couple of tracks I really liked in the past (Tempted, Take Me Back Home and Longest Day).

 

I do always get the impression though it's played whilst they are all sat down in a circle, with their eyes closed nodding along - then whenever recording breaks they all look on in awe at Dave Gahan and mutter to each other about how 'man that was so deep, he died once you know, you can feel it in his voice'.

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  • 4 months later...
On 22/10/2020 at 21:43, Mr Do 71 said:

Got a spare £750? Then you can buy this book by Anton Corbijn.

 

 

 

Did anyone get a copy of the book?

 

Maybe not the £750 limited edition, but the standard edition (which, at around £70 is still bloody expensive)?

My wife got it me for Christmas and it's a really nice thing. Huge and heavy and won't fit on most of the bookshelves I have. I'm not sure I would have asked for it were it just because I'm a DM fan - the fact I'm a photographer and buy a lot of photobooks anyway meant there was added interest in having this collection of Corbijn's work. Also, while I don't look at it this way, one thing is with photobooks is that, unless they remain in print (which they rarely do for long), they tend to increase in value over time (something to note in my will before my kids take a fortune in rare books to Oxfam after I pop my clogs).

 

I only bumped the thread because I happened to be listening to Playing the Angel while developing a roll of B&W film yesterday. :)

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  • 1 month later...

Wow, dumbstruck :(

 

DM meant so much to me. Still do. He was never going to be my favourite member but this is a gut punch. 
 

Met him once, along with Martin, at a Nitzer Ebb gig back in the early 90s. Seemed like a good bloke and was happy to hang out and chat with fans. 

Only 60 too. 

 

RIP 
 

 

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