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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Whether the band felt it was simply the time to move on from its most explicit industrial-pop fusion days, or whether increased success and concurrently larger venues pushed the music into different avenues, Depeche Mode's fifth studio album, Black Celebration, saw the group embarking on a path that in many ways defined their sound to the present: emotionally extreme lyrics matched with amped-up tunes, as much anthemic rock as they are compelling dance, along with stark, low-key ballads. The slow, sneaky build of the opening title track, with a strange distorted vocal sample providing a curious opening hook, sets the tone as David Gahan sings of making it through "another black day" while powerful drums and echoing metallic pings carry the song. Black Celebration is actually heavier on the ballads throughout, many sung by Martin Gore -- the most per album he has yet taken lead on -- with notable dramatic beauties including "Sometimes," with its surprise gospel choir start and rough piano sonics, and the hyper-nihilistic "World Full of Nothing." The various singles from the album remain definite highlights, such as "A Question of Time," a brawling, aggressive number with a solid Gahan vocal, and the romantic/physical politics of "Stripped," featuring particularly sharp arrangements from Alan Wilder. However, with such comparatively lesser-known but equally impressive numbers as the quietly intense romance of "Here Is the House" to boast, Black Celebration is solid through and through.
Depeche Mode - Black Celebration (flac 495mb)
01 Black Celebration 4:59
02 Fly On The Windscreen (Final) 5:19
03 A Question Of Lust 4:22
04 Sometimes 1:54
05 It Doesn't Matter Two 2:51
06 A Question Of Time 4:09
07 Stripped 4:17
08 Here Is The House 4:16
09 World Full Of Nothing 2:49
10 Dressed In Black 2:34
11 New Dress 3:46
12 Breathing In Fumes 6:07
13 But Not Tonight (Extended Remix) 5:14
14 Black Day 2:36
15 Shake the Disease (Remixed Extended) 8:46
16 A Question of Time (Extended Remix) 6:39
17 Fly on the Windscreen (Quiet Mix) 4:25
18 Christmas Island 4:51
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Initially the title must have sounded like an incredibly pretentious boast, except that Depeche Mode then went on to do a monstrous world tour, score even more hits in America and elsewhere than ever before, and pick up a large number of name checks from emerging house and techno artists on top of all that. As for the music the masses got this time around, the opening cut, "Never Let Me Down Again," started things off wonderfully: a compressed guitar riff suddenly slamming into a huge-sounding percussion/keyboard/piano combination, anchored to a constantly repeated melodic hook, ever-building synth/orchestral parts at the song's end, and one of David Gahan's best vocals (though admittedly singing one of Martin Gore's more pedestrian lyrics). It feels huge throughout, like they taped Depeche recording at the world's largest arena show instead of in a studio. Other key singles "Strangelove" and the (literally) driving "Behind the Wheel" maintained the same blend of power and song skill, while some of the quieter numbers such as "The Things You Said" and "I Want You Now" showed musical and lyrical intimacy could easily co-exist with the big chart-busters. Add to that other winners like "To Have and to Hold," with its Russian radio broadcast start and dramatic, downward spiral of music accompanied by Gahan's subtly powerful take on a desperate Gore love lyric, and the weird, wonderful choral closer, "Pimpf," and Depeche's massive success becomes perfectly clear.
Depeche Mode - Music For The Masses (flac 541mb)
01 Never Let Me Down Again 4:48
02 The Things You Said 4:02
03 Strangelove 4:56
04 Sacred 4:47
05 Little 15 4:18
06 Behind The Wheel 5:18
07 I Want You Now 3:44
08 To Have And To Hold 2:51
09 Nothing 4:18
10 Pimpf 5:25
11 Agent Orange 5:05
12 To Have And To Hold (Spanish Taster) 2:36
13 Pleasure, Little Treasure (Glitter Mix) 5:36
14 Never Let Me Down Again (Aggro Mix) 4:57
15 Strangelove (Pain Mix) 7:21.
16 Behind the Wheel (Beatmasters Mix) 8:01
17 Fpmip 5:22
18 Sonata No 14 in C#m (Moonlight Sonata) 5:36
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As an event, Depeche Mode's huge (attendance around 60,000) Los Angeles Rose Bowl concert in 1988 remains legendary; no single artist show had totally sold out the venue since eight years beforehand, while the film documentary done by Dylan-filmer D.A. Pennebaker based around the show clearly demonstrated fans' intense commitment to a near-decade-old band most mainstream critics continued to stupidly portray as a flash-in-the-pan synth pop effort. This start-to-final-encore record of the concert showcases a band perfectly able to carry its music from studio to stage as well as any other combo worth its salt should be able to do. Understandably focused on Music for the Masses material, the album shows Depeche experimenting with alternate arrangements at various points for live performance; big numbers like "Never Let Me Down Again," "Stripped," and "Blasphemous Rumors" pack even more of a wallop here. Slower numbers and more than a couple of ballads help to vary the hit-packed set, including a fine "Somebody" and "The Things You Said" combination sung by Martin Gore. "Pleasure Little Treasure," on record an okay B-side, becomes a monster rocker live, the type of unexpected surprise one could expect from a solid band no matter what the music. With a triumphant set of closing numbers, including magnificent takes on "Never Let Me Down Again," "Master and Servant," and the set-ending "Everything Counts," with what sounds like the entire audience singing the chorus well after the song has finally ended, 101 does far better at its task than most might have guessed.
Depeche Mode - 101 (flac 585mb)
01 Pimpf 0:53
02 Behind The Wheel 5:41
03 Strangelove 4:42
04 Something To Do 3:45
05 Blasphemous Rumours 5:06
06 Stripped 6:16
07 Somebody 4:27
08 Things You Said 4:09
09 Black Celebration 4:33
10 Shake The Disease 4:57
11 Pleasure Little Treasure 4:35
12 People Are People 4:54
13 A Question Of Time 4:09
14 Never Let Me Down Again 6:22
15 Master And Servant 4:24
16 Just Can't Get Enough 4:01
17 Everything Counts 6:07
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In a word, stunning. Perhaps an odd word to use given that Violator continued in the general vein of the previous two studio efforts by Depeche Mode: Martin Gore's upfront lyrical emotional extremism and knack for a catchy hook filtered through Alan Wilder's ear for perfect arrangements, ably assisted by top English producer Flood. Yet the idea that this record would both dominate worldwide charts, while song for song being simply the best, most consistent effort yet from the band could only have been the wildest fantasy before its release. The opening two singles from the album, however, signaled something was up. First was "Personal Jesus," at once perversely simplistic, with a stiff, arcane funk/hip-hop beat and basic blues guitar chords, and tremendous, thanks to sharp production touches and David Gahan's echoed, snaky vocals. Then "Enjoy the Silence," a nothing-else-remains-but-us ballad pumped up into a huge, dramatic romance/dance number, commanding in its mock orchestral/choir scope. Follow-up single "Policy of Truth" did just fine as well, a low-key Motown funk number for the modern day with a sharp love/hate lyric to boot. To top it all off, the album itself scored on song after song, from the shuffling beat of "Sweetest Perfection" (well sung by Gore) and the ethereal "Waiting for the Night" to the guilt-ridden-and-loving-it "Halo" building into a string-swept pounder. "Clean" wraps up Violator on an eerie note, all ominous bass notes and odd atmospherics carrying the song. Goth without ever being stupidly hammy, synth without sounding like the clinical stereotype of synth music, rock without ever sounding like a "rock" band, Depeche here reach astounding heights indeed.
Depeche Mode - Violator (flac 509mb)
01 World In My Eyes 4:27
02 Sweetest Perfection 4:43
03 Personal Jesus 4:55
04 Halo 4:30
05 Waiting For The Night 6:07
06 Enjoy The Silence 6:12
07 Policy Of Truth 4:55
08 Blue Dress 5:38
09 Clean 5:34
10 Dangerous (Sensual Mix) 5:24
11 Personal Jesus (Holier Than Thou Approach) 5:50
12 Happiest Girl (Kiss-A-Mix) 6:17
13 Enjoy the Silence (Ecstatic Dub) 5:44
14 Memphisto 4:03
15 Halo (Goldfrapp Remix) 4:23
16 Enjoy the Silence (Harmonium) 2:43
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