A record shop, October 2023. Two inevitably tattooed, vaping TikTok watchers pick up a box of records from a band the music press now tells them they should like. Suddenly, a man approaches, dressed almost entirely in black muttering about things being better when everything including him was younger.
"Watch out - here he comes."
"Oh for fuc....hello there Old Depeche Mode fan."
"Ah...is that a new Depeche Mode 12" boxset under your arm youngster? Depeche Mode 12" singles eh? I remember when the band actually remixed everything themselves, pressed the records, stamped EVERY sleeve individually and...."
"We know, we know, Old Depeche Mode fan. We've read the tedious blogs you people enjoy. It was all better when TV only had four channels, Dave wore sandals and Alan was in the band. WE KNOW."
"You may laugh young one, but at least then we had the BONGS. You modern collectors have no idea. It's all 88883758332 generic worldwide catalogue nonsense. Back when things were proper, we had a BONG, an LBONG and much more. You lot have no id...."
"FOR GOD'S SAKE SHUT UP. The BONGS are back old man, the BONGS are back."
*Old Depeche Mode man examines boxset*
"Oh my word...*wipes tear away*...it's true. The BONGS are back. We thought they'd been finished off with Personal Jesus 2011 but they're alive. Ok, from a collector's point of view it's infuriating madness. We've only just got over the "new" 12" thing which knocks our shelves out of whack in a mad way but this is different. It's a BONG. A NEW BONG"
"See Old Depeche Mode man? New things are ok. Modern takes on Depeche Mode can be a good thing."
"I see that now young one. Tell me, are the singles and remixes on this boxset throwbacks too? Are we back to the era of band produced extended versions? Please say it is so."
"Ah. Well.....sod that. LOOK AT THE BONGS. AND THERE'S A BLOODY STENCIL TOO!"
The new Depeche Mode boxset its out! This time, Delta Machine gets the 12" single treatment. There were originally only three 12" singles supporting this album, one for each single release, and frankly that was enough. As has been the case during this superb re-release series however, new 12" singles have appeared to ensure we have vinyl versions of sub-standard previously CD only remixes and this boxset is no exception.
As ever, before I begin to show you pictures, I must stress that the boxset is a lovely thing. The attention to detail that has been shown to the artwork and sound is wonderful and that can only be applauded. The free gift is odd but brilliant too, however we will come on to that.
The first single from Delta Machine was Heaven. As I subtly alluded to in the hilarious intro, the BONG numbers have returned for this boxset and that is a lovely thing. Ok, it's slightly rewriting history but, let's face it, we all moaned when they were removed, so we really should just shut up. When Heaven was released, it had a 12" with the catalogue number 88765 49171 1. It now has a BONG.
The front of 12BONG44 looks like this:
Just the same as the 2013 12" really. Here's the back:
It contains the same four remixes as the original 12". Hmmm.
The first new 12" in the box is L12BONG44. Here it is:
On Side A, we have two remixes of Heaven: Blawan Remix and Steps To Heaven Rmx.
On Side B, we have two more versions of Heaven: Matthew Dear Vs. Audion Vocal Mix and a Live Studio Version.
I reviewed Heaven as part of my still VERY readable 2021 Project where I reviewed every Depeche single there had been to that point. With the exception of the Live Studio Version, I covered all the remixes there. Read about how generally terrible they are here: http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.com/2021/11/depeche-mode-singles-1981-to-2021-part_26.html
The new track here is the Live Studio Version and it's a nice treat. There are always thoughtful things added to these boxes and this is one of them. Compared to the remix horrorshow it sounds like the best thing Depeche Mode have ever done. Anyway, I sound like Old Depeche Mode man don't I?
The next Delta Machine single was the frankly laughable Soothe My Soul. There is a song that resolutely refuses to improve with age. Anyway, we had a 12" release with the memorable catalogue number 88883 73070 1. That has now become 12BONG45 and it looks like this:
Anton really earned his money with that artwork. The flip side (ask your grandfather or Old Depeche Mode man) looks like this:
The record "blesses' us with the same four tracks as the original 12".
A new L12 appears next, L12BONG45. The front of it can be seen below:
It's a new design instead of being based on LCD. The title is to the right of the big house on here. On Side A we have three remixes of Soothe My Soul: Tom Furse - The Horrors Remix, Billy F Gibbons and Joe Hardy Remix and Boris Delacroix Remix. I've just listened to these again. May God help me.
Here is the rear sleeve:
The three tracks here are: Soothe My Soul (Black Asteroid Remix), Soothe My Soul (Gregor Tresher Soothed Remix) and Goodbye (Gesaffelstein Remix). The latter track appeared on the original CD1 release in 2013. As with all Depeche Mode singles, in fact as with what feels like all Depeche Mode releases, I reviewed all these remixes so that you don't have to listen to them. Read all about it here: http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.com/2021/12/depeche-mode-singles-1981-to-2021-part.html
The final Delta Machine single was Should Be Higher. The original 12" catalogue number 88883 75834 1 has been rebranded as 12BONG46. The front looks like this:
In my original review of the single, I boldly claimed that this was the worst set of remixes ever compiled on a Depeche Mode 12" but I stand corrected.
Yes. the six tracks here are almost inexplicably awful, but the new L12BONG46 listens to that, says "hold my beer in a Delta Machine tour cup" and gives us one decent remix and a radio version that is passable only because of the sheer madness of the remaining three tracks. The new 12" front cover looks like this:
Side A contains two "remixes" of Should Be Higher - Jim Sclavunos From Grinderman Remix and Little Vampire Remix. Lordy.
Should Be Higher (MAPS Remix) - a GOOD remix thank any Lord you want to thank
Should Be Higher (Jim Jones Revue Remix) - an actual pisstake
Should Be Higher (Radio Mix).
I was rude about all these previously as you can see here: http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.com/2021/12/depeche-mode-singles-1981-to-2021-part_4.html
Mercifully, we move away from the musical content of these otherwise lovely records. Bizarrely but brilliantly, this boxset contains a personalised stencil:
Now, last time, I praised the Sounds Of The Universe boxset for going so far as to personalise records labels for me, but an actual stencil! That is very generous. Many of you don't open your boxes but I am assured that if you do, your own initials will be there in stencil form for you to graffiti wherever you please.
Excuse me a second. My phone's ringing.
"Hello? Oh wow, hello Mute. And Sony too? This is tremendous. How are you both?.... What's that? Oh yes, I see. It was only really a laboured joke that I barely got away with last time so I'm sure no-one will...no?... Really? ....That seems harsh....Oh you're serious. I see. Thanks. Bye now."
The stencil represents the DM logo used for the Delta Machine era and his in fact not personalised in any way.
Cool thing though isn't it?
The box also contains a reproduction poster. This one cruelly reminds us that Soothe My Soul appeared as a single:
Finally, for anyone who still downloads things, there's a download card:
And there we have it. Welcome back BONG. There can surely only be a couple of boxsets left unless the previously missed 12" singles are compiled into one giant series ending box. That would of course be tremendous and would please all Depche fans, Old and New immensely.
See you for the Spirit boxset.