Tuesday 22 March 2011



1983 is the start of the classic Depeche Mode era. Over the next ten years they would transform themselves from a poppy act with a fairly limited appeal to the world's first stadium filling electronic group influencing everyone from Derrick May to Trent Reznor on the way. The era I'm about to look at showed that Depeche were much more than simply a Basildon synthpop band who liked acting like clowns on Noel Edmonds' Swap Shop

4 months after A Broken Frame was released a brand new Depeche Mode single landed in the shops. Lyrically dodgy with a terrifyingly bad video (below) Get The Balance Right was released on 31 January 1983 

backed on 7 " (7BONG2 - below left) with the new instrumental The Great Outdoors. The Great Outdoors is notable only for the fact that it is a joint effort of Martin Gore and then new boy Alan Wilder. Alan was now a fully fledged band member with this single being his debut. Quite why the band chose to mark it by releasing one of their most baffling instrumentals is beyond me but it was a nice welcome for him I suppose. Get The Balance Right is a great song however despite some of its words. The bass line alone is worth checking this song out and indeed this tune along with its 12" remix is said to have been highly influential in Detroit techno circles. Baffling but true. The 12" (12BONG2) (right)

had three tracks - Get The Balance Right (Combination Mix), The Great Outdoors and a live version of Tora! Tora! Tora! from the Hammersmith Odeon on the Broken Frame tour. The Combination mix really is fantastic. It was 

the best Depeche remix to date and really took the song to a new place. The live Tora! Tora! Tora! is pretty much what you'd expect. No doubt sensing that there were people like me in the world the band released their first Limited Edition numbered 12" (left) (L12BONG2) in support of the single. It features the 7" version of Get The Balance Right plus 4 live tracks again from the Hammersmith Show - My Secret Garden (with an excellent intro using Oberkorn (It's a Small Town)), See You, Satellite and Tora! Tora! Tora! As it turned out this was the first of 3 such limited edition 12" singles in 1983 all with live tracks. Together they form a good record of Depeche live at the time and are worth a listen. The packaging is rather cool too. The German editions came in a red 7", a red vinyl version of the standard 12" (nice) and a marvelous blue vinyl limited 12". There are also German cd singles of the 12" and the limited 12" which adds the Combination mix to the tracklist albeit confusingly called Original 12" mix. So there you go.

My Get The Balance Right collection

Get The Balance Right was good but what followed on 11 July was not only their best single to date but also a landmark tune for all Depeche Mode fans - Everything Counts. Yes it has the slightly odd line about Korea and yes the video shows them tooling about miming on xylophones BUT you cannot ignore the genius of this song. The record buying public clearly agreed with me as the sing reached number 6 in the charts. As with the forthcoming album, the track 

was mainly recorded in London but mixed in Berlin's legendary Hansa studios, where the band made full use of the 64 track recording facility. The band's experimentation in this period is what makes it so fascinating. Martin was being influenced by bands such as Einsturzende Neubauten and was intent on mixing their industrial sounds with Depeche's pop ones. This really was quite a statement by the band given their pop status. Again, I'm biased but they were years ahead of their time here. Everything Counts has a much harder sound than anything that went before it (yes, even A Photograph of You) but it still retains its pop hooks. The 7" (7BONG3) was backed with Work Hard (right) which whilst by no means a classic is a decent enough song with a fair bit of metal bashing. The 12" (below) (12BONG3) came with two tracks - the East End mix of Work Hard

and the frankly top notch mix of the A side Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts).

 This remix really is great and its name is fantastic. As with Get The Balance Right a limited edition numbered 12" (right) (L12BONG3) was released featuring the 7" version of Everything Counts and live versions of New Life, Boys Say Go, Nothing To Fear and The Meaning of Love. Again, the packaging is great here - I love the logos the band used in the period such as the hand on the Everything Counts singles. Overall, the artwork was improving significantly on the band's earlier releases. I've not really mentioned the artwork in previous articles as the pictures really do speak for themselves the brillant A Broken Frame cover excepted. Whilst the 1983 era is no Violator era Corbijn genius (which I will drool on endlessly about in the future) the artwork for the singles and album have a consistency and a theme which was both a first and very important for the band. Finally German editions come in a red vinyl 7", and clear vinyl versions of both the standard and limited edition 12" singles. Finally there were two cd singles - one of the 12" and one of the limited edition again adding the 12" remix. The video is the first one the band say they were truly happy with. See below for the evidence.

My Everything Counts collection

Everything Counts was the first single released from the band's new album Construction Time Again (below) which came out on 22 August 1983 and, like Everything Counts, reached number 6 in the UK charts
 The album orginally came out on cassette (CSTUMM13) and LP (STUMM13) and came with 9 tracks - Love In Itself, More Than A Party, Pipeline, Everything Counts, Two Minute Warning, Shame, The Landscape Is Changing, Told You So and And Then... . It also has a brief reprise of Everything Counts right at the end. The difference between this album and A Broken Frame is remarkable. The songs are much more mature and complex, the sounds are generally harder and louder and the whole tone has a political edge to it which was something never previously associated with Depeche. Sampling is everwhere on the album from guitars on Love In Itself to the odd flute thing (can't recall the name) on Everything Counts, the train on More Than A Party and to the standout track - all the metal an East London scrapyard could provide on Pipeline. I love Pipeline - the lyrics, the metal noises, just the whole feel of it. That the band did this only months after The Meaning of bloody Love is genuinely astounding. Some people dont like Pipeline and that's fine but to not like it is to simply not get Construction Time Again era Depeche Mode. They were pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable for a straightforward pop band so far away from the accepted norms that they deserve all the praise in the world in my opinion. The album is also notable for the inclusion of two Alan Wilder songs - the nuclear bomb fearing Two Minute Warning and the first ever Green song (possibly!) The Landscape is Changing. Construction Time Again is the band's first proper album for me - if you don't have it get it. Simple as that.

The second and final single from the album was Love In Itself which came out on 19 September 1983 reaching a disappointing 21 in the UK.

The 7" (right) (7BONG4) contained the slightl

y remixed Love In Itself (2) and was backed with another Alan Wilder track, the excellent Fools. The 12" (12BONG4 - left) had three songs all with reasonably literal remix titles - Love In Itself (3), Fools (Bigger) and Love In Itself (4). Remix 3 is a fine example of the extended 12" craze of that period, as is the Bigger version of Fools. Remix 4 is interesting as it's a sort of acoustic band version of the song featuring Martin on guitar, Alan on piano, Dave on vocals and Fletch presumably on raising his arms and clapping. Finally the limited edition 12" formed the last in the series of three li

ve track 12" singles (L12BONG4 - right) and came with the 7" version and live versions of Just Can't Get Enough, A Photograph of You, Shout and Photographic again all from the Hammersmith Odeon gig. It maybe wanst the most obvious choice of second single from the album and it certainly hasn't aged as well as Everything Counts but Love In Itself is an ok tune. German editions come in a red vinyl 7", a grey vinyl standard 12",  a yellow vinyl version of the limited 12" and the two cd single approach as per the last two singles.

My Love In Itself collection

The band didn't hang about after Love In Itself as they headed back to Hansa this time to record a whole new album. That will be the topic of the next blog next time...


  1. "the odd flute thing (can't recall the name) on Everything Counts"

    It's a shawm, a sort of predecessor of the oboe. NOT! to be confused with the flute. :)

  2. Would it be interesting to add that Alan sings "And Then" if I remember well?