Today's artists are originally a product of Britain's new romantic movement, Depeche Mode went on to become the quintessential electropop band of the 1980s. One of the first acts to establish a musical identity based completely around the use of synthesizers, they began their existence as a bouncy dance-pop outfit but gradually developed a darker, more dramatic sound that ultimately positioned them as one of the most successful alternative bands of their era... ....N'Joy
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The roots of Depeche Mode date to 1976, when Basildon, England-based keyboardists Vince Clarke and Andrew Fletcher first teamed to form the group No Romance in China. The band proved short-lived, and by 1979 Clarke had formed French Look, another duo featuring guitarist/keyboardist Martin Gore; Fletcher soon signed on, and the group rechristened itself Composition of Sound. Initially, Clarke handled vocal chores, but in 1980 singer David Gahan was brought in to complete the lineup. After one final name change to Depeche Mode, the quartet members jettisoned all instruments excluding their synthesizers, honing a slick, techno-based sound to showcase Clarke's catchy melodies. .
After building a following on the London club scene, Depeche Mode debuted in 1980 with "Photographic," a track included on the Some Bizzare Album label compilation. After signing to Mute Records, they issued "Dreaming of Me" in early 1981; while neither the single nor its follow-up, "New Life," caused much of a stir, their third effort, "Just Can't Get Enough," became a Top Ten U.K. hit, and their 1981 debut LP, Speak and Spell, was also a success. Just as Depeche Mode appeared poised for a major commercial breakthrough, however, principal songwriter Clarke abruptly exited to form Yazoo with singer Alison Moyet, leaving the group's future in grave doubt.
Gore, who had written "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and the instrumental "Big Muff" for Speak & Spell, was forced to become the band's new songwriter. In late 1981, the band placed an anonymous ad in Melody Maker looking for another musician; it said "Name band, synthesise, must be under twenty-one." Alan Wilder, a keyboardist from West London, responded and, after two auditions and despite being 22 years old, he was hired in early 1982, initially on a trial basis as a touring member. Wilder would later be called the "Musical Director" of the band, responsible for the band's sound until his departure in 1995. As producer Flood would later say, "Alan is sort of the craftsman, Martin's the idea man and Dave is the attitude."
In January 1982, the band released "See You", their first single without Clarke, which managed to beat all three Clarke-penned singles in the UK charts, reaching number six. The tour that followed the release of the single saw the band playing their first shows in North America. Two more singles, "The Meaning of Love", and "Leave in Silence", were released ahead of the band's second studio album. Depeche Mode began work on their second album in July 1982. Daniel Miller informed Wilder that he was not needed for the recording of the album, as the band wanted to prove that they could succeed without Vince Clarke. A Broken Frame was released that September and the following month the band set off on their second tour of 1982. A non-album single, "Get the Balance Right!", was released in January 1983, and was the first Depeche Mode track to be recorded with Wilder.
For their third LP Construction Time Again, Depeche Mode worked with producer Gareth Jones, at John Foxx's Garden Studios and at Hansa Studios in West Berlin. The album saw a dramatic shift in the group's sound, due in part to Wilder's introduction of the Synclavier and E-mu Emulator samplers. By sampling the noises of everyday objects, the band created an eclectic, industrial-influenced sound, with similarities to groups such as Einstürzende Neubauten, the latter having subsequently released work on the Mute label as well. Along with the music, Gore's songwriting was also rapidly evolving, focusing increasingly on political and social issues. A good example of the new sound was on the first single from the album "Everything Counts", a commentary on the perceived greed of multinational corporations.
In their early years, Depeche Mode had only really attained success in Europe and Australia. However this changed in March 1984 when they released the single "People Are People". The song became a big hit, reaching No. 2 in Ireland and Poland, No. 4 in UK and Switzerland and No. 1 in West Germany. But, beyond this European success, the song also reached No. 13 on the US charts in mid-1985, which was the first appearance of a DM single on the Billboard Hot 100. "People Are People" has since become an anthem for the LGBT community. In September 1984, Some Great Reward was released. Melody Maker claimed that the album made one "sit up and take notice of what is happening here, right under your nose." In contrast to the political and environmental subjects addressed on the previous album, the songs on Some Great Reward were mostly concerned with more personal themes such as sexual politics ("Master and Servant"), adulterous relationships ("Lie to Me"), and arbitrary divine justice ("Blasphemous Rumours"). Also included was the first Martin Gore ballad ("Somebody") — such songs would become a feature of all following albums. "Somebody" was released as a double a-side with "Blasphemous Rumours" and was the first single with Gore on lead vocals. Some Great Reward was the first Depeche Mode album to enter the US album charts, and it made the Top 10 in several European countries.
During this period, in some circles, the band became associated with the goth subculture, which had begun in Britain in the early-1980s, and was now slowly gaining popularity in the United States. They appealed primarily to an alternative audience who were disenfranchised with the predominance of "soft rock and 'disco hell'" on the radio. This view of the band was in sharp contrast to how the band was perceived in Europe, despite the increasingly dark and serious tone in their songs. The music video for "A Question of Time" was the first to be directed by Anton Corbijn, beginning a working relationship that continues to the present day. Corbijn has directed a further 19 of the band's videos (the latest being 2006's "Suffer Well"). He has also filmed some of their live performances and designed stage sets and album and single covers.
1987's Music for the Masses saw further alterations in the band's sound and working methods. For the first time a producer not related to Mute, Dave Bascombe, was called to assist with the recording sessions (although, according to Alan Wilder, his role ended up being more that of an engineer). In making the album the band largely eschewed sampling in favour of more synth experimentation. Record Mirror described Music for the Masses as "the most accomplished and sexy Mode album to date" and it made a breakthrough in the American market, something which the band had failed to achieve with their previous albums.
The Music for the Masses Tour followed the release of the album. On 7 March 1988 they played an unofficial gig (as it was not officially announced that Depeche Mode were the band performing that night) in the Werner-Seelenbinder-Halle, East Berlin. Depeche Mode were among the very few western bands that ever played in the former GDR. Around the same period, they also gave concerts in Budapest and Prague (1988) in the then still communist Hungary and Czechoslovakia respectively. The world tour ended on 18 June 1988 with a concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. The tour was a breakthrough for the band and a massive success in the United States. It was documented in 101 – a concert film by D. A. Pennebaker and its accompanying soundtrack album.
In mid-1989, the band began recording in Milan with producer Flood and engineer François Kevorkian. The initial result of this session was the single "Personal Jesus". Prior to its release, a marketing campaign was launched with advertisements placed in the personal columns of UK regional newspapers with the words "Your own personal Jesus." Later, the ads included a phone number one could dial to hear the song. The resulting furore helped propel the single to number 13 on the UK charts, becoming one of their biggest sellers to date; in the US, it was their first gold single and their first Top 40 hit since "People Are People", eventually becoming the biggest-selling 12-inch single in Warner Bros. Records' history up to that point.
Released in January 1990, "Enjoy the Silence" became one of Depeche Mode's most successful singles to date, reaching number six in the UK (the first Top 10 hit in that country since "Master And Servant"). A few months later it became Depeche Mode's biggest hit in the US, reaching number eight and earning the band a second gold single. It won 'Best British single' at the 1991 Brit Awards. To promote their new album Violator, the band held an in-store autograph signing at Wherehouse Entertainment in Los Angeles. The event attracted approximately 20,000 fans and turned into a near riot. Some of those who attended were injured by being pressed against the store's glass by the crowd. As an apology to the fans who were injured, the band released a limited edition cassette tape to fans living in Los Angeles, which was distributed through radio station KROQ (the sponsor of the Wherehouse event). Violator went on to reach Top 10 in the UK and US. Violator was the first of the band's albums to enter the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 — reaching No. 7 and staying 74 weeks in the chart. It has also been certified triple platinum in America, selling over 4.5 million units there. It remains the band's best selling album worldwide. Two more singles from the album "Policy of Truth" and "World in My Eyes" were hits in the UK with the former also charting in the US.
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Though probably nobody fully appreciated it at the time -- perhaps least of all the band! -- Depeche Mode's debut is at once both a conservative, functional pop record and a groundbreaking release. While various synth pioneers had come before -- Gary Numan, early Human League, late-'70s Euro-disco, and above all Kraftwerk all had clear influence on Speak & Spell -- Depeche became the undisputed founder of straight-up synth pop with the album's 11 songs, light, hooky, and danceable numbers about love, life, and clubs. For all the claims about "dated" '80s sounds from rock purists, it should be noted that the basic guitar/bass/drums lineup of rock is almost 25 years older than the catchy keyboard lines and electronic drums making the music here. That such a sound would eventually become ubiquitous during the Reagan years, spawning lots of crud along the way, means the band should no more be held to blame for that than Motown and the Beatles for inspiring lots of bad stuff in the '60s. Credit for the album's success has to go to main songwriter Vince Clarke, who would extend and arguably perfect the synth pop formula with Yazoo and Erasure; the classic early singles "New Life," "Dreaming of Me," and "Just Can't Get Enough," along with numbers ranging from the slyly homoerotic "Pretty Boy" to the moody thumper "Photographic," keep everything moving throughout. David Gahan undersings about half the album, and Martin Gore's two numbers lack the distinctiveness of his later work, but Speak & Spell remains an undiluted joy.
Depeche Mode - Speak and Spell (flac 370mb)
01 New Life 3:46
02 I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead 2:18
03 Puppets 3:57
04 Boys Say Go! 3:07
05 Nodisco 4:15
06 What's Your Name? 2:45
07 Photographic 4:44
08 Tora! Tora! Tora! 4:37
09 Big Muff 4:24
10 Any Second Now (Voices) 2:35
11 Just Can't Get Enough 3:44
12 Dreaming Of Me 4:03
13 Ice Machine 4:05
14 Shout 3:46
15 Any Second Now 3:08
16 Just Can't Get Enough (Schizo Mix) 6:44
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Martin Gore has famously noted that Depeche Mode stopped worrying about its future when the first post-Vince Clarke-departure single, "See You," placed even higher on the English charts than anything else Clarke had done with them. Such confidence carries through all of A Broken Frame, a notably more ambitious effort than the pure pop/disco of the band's debut. With arranging genius Alan Wilder still one album away from fully joining the band, Frame became very much Gore's record, writing all the songs and exploring various styles never again touched upon in later years. "Satellite" and "Monument" take distinct dub/reggae turns, while "Shouldn't Have Done That" delivers its slightly precious message about the dangers of adulthood with a spare arrangement and hollow, weirdly sweet vocals. Much of the album follows in a dark vein, forsaking earlier sprightliness, aside from tracks like "A Photograph of You" and "The Meaning of Love," for more melancholy reflections about love gone wrong as "Leave in Silence" and "My Secret Garden." More complex arrangements and juxtaposed sounds, such as the sparkle of breaking glass in "Leave in Silence," help give this underrated album even more of an intriguing, unexpected edge. Gore's lyrics sometimes veer on the facile, but David Gahan's singing comes more clearly to the fore throughout -- things aren't all there yet, but they were definitely starting to get close.
Depeche Mode - A Broken Frame (flac 331mb)
01 Leave In Silence 4:51
02 My Secret Garden 4:47
03 Monument 3:16
04 Nothing To Fear 4:19
05 See You 4:33
06 Satellite 4:44
07 The Meaning Of Love 3:07
08 A Photograph Of You 3:04
09 Shouldn't Have Done That 3:15
10 The Sun & The Rainfall 4:58
11 Leave in Silence (Longer) 6:32
12 The Meaning of Love (Fairly Odd Mix) 5:01
13 Oberkorn (It's a Small Town) (Single Version) 4:10
14 Further Excerpts from My Secret Garden 4:23
15 Leave in Silence (Quieter) 3:43
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The full addition of Alan Wilder to Depeche Mode's lineup created a perfect troika that would last another 11 years, as the combination of Martin Gore's songwriting, Wilder's arranging, and David Gahan's singing and live star power resulted in an ever more compelling series of albums and singles. Construction Time Again, the new lineup's first full effort, is a bit hit and miss nonetheless, but when it does hit, it does so perfectly. Right from the album's first song, "Love in Itself," something is clearly up; Depeche never sounded quite so thick with its sound before, with synths arranged into a mini-orchestra/horn section and real piano and acoustic guitar spliced in at strategic points. Two tracks later, "Pipeline" offers the first clear hint of an increasing industrial influence (the bandmembers were early fans of Einstürzende Neubauten), with clattering metal samples and oddly chain gang-like lyrics and vocals. The album's clear highlight has to be "Everything Counts," a live staple for years, combining a deceptively simple, ironic lyric about the music business with a perfectly catchy but unusually arranged blending of more metallic scraping samples and melodica amid even more forceful funk/hip-hop beats. Elsewhere, on "Shame" and "Told You So," Gore's lyrics start taking on more of the obsessive personal relationship studies that would soon dominate his writing. Wilder's own songwriting contributions are fine musically, but lyrically, "preachy" puts it mildly, especially the environment-friendly "The Landscape Is Changing."
Depeche Mode - Construction Time Again (flac 433mb)
01 Love, In Itself 4:22
02 More Than A Party 4:54
03 Pipeline 5:56
04 Everything Counts 4:21
05 Two Minute Warning 4:14
06 Shame 3:52
07 The Landscape Is Changing 4:50
08 Told You So 4:28
09 And Then... 4:40
10 Everything Counts (Reprise) 0:56
11 The Great Outdoors 5:03
12 Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts) 7:21
13 Get the Balance Right! (Combination Mix) 7:58
14 Work Hard 4:22
15 Fools 4:17
16 Love in Itself 2 4:02
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The peak of the band's industrial-gone-mainstream fusion, and still one of the best electronic music albums yet recorded, Some Great Reward still sounds great, with the band's ever-evolving musical and production skills matching even more ambitious songwriting from Martin Gore. "People Are People" appears here, but finds itself outclassed by some of Depeche Mode's undisputed classics, most especially the moody, beautiful "Somebody," a Gore-sung piano ballad that mixes its wit and emotion skillfully; "Master and Servant," an amped-up, slamming dance track that conflates sexual and economic politics to sharp effect; and the closing "Blasphemous Rumors," a slow-building anthemic number supporting one of Gore's most cynical lyrics, addressing a suicidal teen who finds God only to die soon afterward. Even lesser-known tracks like the low-key pulse of "Lie to Me" and the weirdly dreamy "It Doesn't Matter" showcase an increasingly confident band. Alan Wilder's arrangements veer from the big to the stripped down, but always with just the right touch, such as the crowd samples bubbling beneath "Somebody" or the call/response a cappella start to "Master and Servant." With Reward, David Gahan's singing style found the métier it was going to stick with for the next ten years, and while it's never gone down well with some ears, it still has a compelling edge to it that suits the material well.
Depeche Mode - Some Great Reward (flac 430mb)
01 Something To Do 3:47
02 Lie To Me 5:03
03 People Are People 3:52
04 It Doesn't Matter 4:44
05 Stories Of Old 3:13
06 Somebody 4:27
07 Master And Servant 4:12
08 If You Want 4:41
09 Blasphemous Rumours 6:22
10 In Your Memory (Slick Mix) 8:13
11 (Set Me Free) Remotivate Me 4:13
12 People Are People (Different Mix).flac
13 Master and Servant (An ON-U Sound Science Fiction Dance Hall Classic) 7:14
14 Somebody (Remix) 4:20
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