Review Summary: Ever heard Personal Jesus? Enjoy The Silence? Want to know more? Look no further
Depeche Mode have been around for twenty-eight years. From nervous beginnings playing one-fingered synth riffs in Essex pubs to pumping out industrial electro-rock in gargantuan American stadiums, abstinence to drug addiction, peroxide to perms, shy lads-from-school to tequila slammer-fuelled piggyback fights, a lot’s changed; nothing more so, however, than the music. Compilation albums usually show this; however, it’s clear from looking at this one just how far the Basildon boys have come. Look! There’s ’Just Can’t Get Enough’
, that uber-cheesy, teeth-rottingly sweet keyboard-fest from 1980, sharing space with the pervy hiss and spit S&M fetishes of ’Master And Servant’
. And there! ’Personal Jesus’
, all bluesy glam stomps and anti-devotional lyrics, just one track away from ’Everything Counts’
, which is so pleased with its sugary lead melody that it’s confident enough to use “Korea” and “career” as a rhyming couplet without blushing.
However, rabid fans (who will doubtless own every song they’ve ever produced) will have no need for this collection of eighteen singles. So who will want this? Most people who stop to investigate Depeche arrive either through word of mouth, teenage angst, a love of New Wave bands, a healthy interest in leather, or (usually) the recent plethora of covers by other artists. It is indicative of the talents of lead songwriter Martin Gore that artists as polar as Johnny Cash and Marilyn Manson both stepped up to cover the same song (‘Personal Jesus’
), while Lacuna Coil, Mike Shinoda, Tori Amos, Keane and roughly three million other artists have set out to cover/reinterpret/murder ’Enjoy The Silence’
. Most people are pointed in the direction of Violator
, the band’s magnum opus
, which is a terrific shame, because there’s still much to be found either side of 1990, as this collection demonstrates, having only two songs from Violator
present. ’I Feel You’
shows off their weird, grunge-electro phase, ’People Are People’
was the metal-bashing key to the American door (with the abominable-yet-catchy ”People are people so why should it be/You and I should get along so awfully”
) and ’Never Let Me Down Again’
is one big industrial drug trip. Shallow, self-obsessed vanity has never sounded so cool as it does on ’It‘s No Good‘
, while ’Shake The Disease’
was never on an album yet is one of their greatest hidden gems, and you even get a new song ’Martyr’
, which unfortunately is the sound of self-parody (twangy guitar, bleepy synths, lyrics about religion and suffering).
This is The Best Of (Vol. 1)
and a jolly good job too, because given the amount of hits they’ve had, one CD just won’t cut it. Where, for instance, is ‘World In My Eyes’
? Or ’John The Revelator’
? Why has one of their biggest and best albums (Black Celebration
) been completely overlooked? What about those great non-singles (Halo, Clean, Higher Love, The Sinner In Me
)? Why include the catchy yet slightly embarrassing early songs like ’New Life’
and ’See You?’
Surely they’d put people off?
Relax, fanboys. No-one cares at the moment, they just want to know a bit more about Depeche Mode. There’s plenty of space on the next compilation. In the meantime, this mostly excellent collection, while not as cohesive as a true album, still delivers by emcompassing all the musical changes of the group and serves up an electro-rock smorgasbord of pain and suffering, Mode style. You just can’t get enough.