Wednesday, 26 March 2014


I must admit that when the Tour Of The Universe ended, I wasn't sure what lay ahead for Depeche Mode. For me, the album had been a bit flat and the last leg of the tour lacked the punch and indeed a bit of the life of the early legs. I remember hearing a rumour that the last show of the tour in Dusseldorf was going to be the band's last ever show (heard that before I guess) and not being that surprised about it. Maybe, after 30 or so years filled with some of the best music and shows any band anywhere has ever produced, it was time for them to stop. As ever, the tour ended without a word of anything and like last time we got a couple of solo outings,  both of which were very interesting and the Remixes 2 album which I covered previously here. Of the solo stuff which future blogs will have a peek at, Martin's VCMG project with Vince Clarke was fantastic and Dave's album with Soulsavers finally delivered a Dave solo project that I enjoyed. 

Solo projects are never enough though are they? As good as they are they're simply aren't the band and so when word went around of a press conference in Paris on 23 October 2012, things started getting rather exciting. What was it going to be? Album? Tour? A new single written entirely by Fletch? Thankfully it was only two out of three of those things. The conference was broadcast online and so I took and earlier and longer lunch hour than usual in anticipation. It started off fantastically with a new song and montage video playing what we later learned was Angel (video below). Perhaps a little unobjectively I immediately loved the song. This was fast, aggressive and punchy, miles away from the mainly one paced SOTU. Exciting stuff. Obviously, the online fan base was split between proclaiming it either an act of genius or the worst thing since Alan packed in but what do you expect eh? Anyway, the press conference managed to announce nothing at all really but it was exciting to see them back

In terms of other new music we had to wait until January 2013 when the band's new single Heaven was announced and given its' world premiere on KROQ's morning show Kevin and Bean on 30 January. The album tracklist had been released prior to that (details below) and it's really rather amusing to look back at the debate the tracklist alone stirred prior to Heaven even being played. Seriously, people were going half mad trying to work out lyrics, what the songs were about and so on. We really are a rather odd bunch. Anyhow, Heaven was premiered on the 30th along with its marvellous Timothy Saccenti video (below - premiered on VEVO 1st February) and I have to say I loved it from the off. It's a track that has really grown on me over time too and it now seems to me to have an almost classic Depeche Mode feel - doomy, gloomy, atmospheric and really quite beautiful. For some reason I also consider "I stand in golden rays/Radiantly/I burn a fire of love/Over and Over" to be among some of Martin's most powerful lyrics.

So when could you get your hands on this single? Well that firmly depended on where you lived. In some, but not all, places it was available digitally on 31 January and physically on 1 February. In others, specifically Britain where I live and where the band would certainly appear to come from, it was not available until 17 March. What was the point in that? How can a label the size of Sony manage to make an utter arse of one of the world's biggest bands' first new material in four years? Seriously, how was that even permitted? Ok, Britain has long wrongly neglected Depeche but to leave us waiting for the release of the new single until 5 days before the album came out was just stupid. Alright, I could have got it from or from the US but being a collection pedant I had to get the UK releases and of course on doing so discovered that they weren't UK releases per se but were instead EU wide ones. Another unhappy consequence of the band's move from Mute to Sony (the release strategy being the worst) was  the end of the BONG tag for singles. A small thing I admit, but a really important one. Depeche would no longer have their unique reference point and that was sad.

Moan over. On 17 March (almost two months after the rest of the world. ARRRGGHH!) I was able to get my hands on a new Depeche Mode single which is always a momentous event. It was available on two cd's and very pleasingly and indeed a tick in favour of Sony a 12". CD1 (left) (catalogue number BON....oh wait 8765461572. I'm not doing these from now on) contained two tracks being Heaven and a new one called All That's Mine. The version of Heaven is the album version and All That's Mine is a track that appears on the deluxe version of the album. The song itself is written by Dave and Kurt Uenala his writing partner for Delta Machine and is a pleasant enough electronic track with a real 80's feel to some of the melodies. CD2 (right) contains 4 remixes of Heaven which in all honesty are not too bad at all and the album version which kicks off the cd. After that is the real star here which is the Owlle Remix which is perhaps not surprisingly a remix by French artist Owlle. She remixes the song in a really cool way giving it a bit more life and adding her own oohs and aahs. Track 3 is the Steps To Heaven remix which is pretty bland. It doesn't take much away, doesn't add much and doesn't really do much at all. The Blawan Remix is an interesting one adding a large Arp and what sound like Personal Jesus style drums to the mix and we end on the Matthew Dear vs Audion Vocal Mix which is ok but wasn't as good as I expected given Matthew Dear's track record. The 12" has the Owlle Remix and three alternative versions of the other remixes namely the Blawan Dub, Steps To Heaven Voxdub and Matthew Dear vs Audion Instrumental Mix all of which aren't as good as the versions on the cd. The single itself reached a staggeringly bad but wholly unsurprising number 60 in the UK. Good job Sony.

Hot on the heels of the single came the new album Delta Machine which was released on 25 March 2013. I reviewed the album from an ITunes stream (here) and overall my opinion hasn't changed that much in the intervening 12 months. The album was available on standard cd with 13 tracks, deluxe hardback book style cd with an additional 4 tracks and a rather lovely double vinyl that came with all 17 tracks. The tracklist for the main release is: Welcome To My World (brilliant start to the album), Angel, Heaven, Secret To The End (a Dave written track and a real cracker), My Little Universe (love this - Martin goes VCMG. Sort of VCMGDM), Slow (nice), Broken (Dave track 2 and the best Dave track here. Really should have been a single.), The Child Inside (Martin vocal - odd lyrics), Soft Touch/Raw Nerve (a b-side at best), Should Be
Higher, Alone (a true Depeche Mode classic that was amazingly ignored for the live shows), Soothe My Soul and Goodbye (a great end to the album). It really is an excellent album which whilst not without its flaws is much better than I had hoped it would be. The additional tracks are interesting but none really scream out as being shocking omissions from the album unlike with the SOTU additional tracks. First up is Long Time Lie which is a Dave/Martin co-write with music by Martin and lyrics by Dave. It's good and is a little Kraftwerk in places, has a Pink Floyd like guitar solo and is generally decent. Happens All The Time is next and again is Dave track. It's fine nothing more. Always is the best of the four extra tracks here. It's a Martin sung song and is for me better than The Child Inside and could well have appeared on the main album. Finally, we have All That's Mine. Overall, Delta Machine is a real pleasure and if it does turn out to be the band's last album then they've ended on a high.

The next single from the album was released with the usual and by now inevitable UK release cock up on 6 May 2013 and that single was the fanbase dividing Soothe My Soul. It's a glam rock stomper of a track that seems to echo Personal Jesus in many respects but that probably pays it too high a compliment as it's not in that song's league. It's goodish, worked when I was jumping around listening to it in Munich's Olympic Stadium but overall it's not that memorable. The lyrics are a bit creepy too and there's no need for the use of "junkie" as it's a crap and cheap rhyme. The song crashed into the UK charts at 88 and dropped after that and the video by Warren Fu is a reasonable one especially by recent standards (see below).

The single was available on three formats again. CD1 (right) was a two track affair featuring the radio edit of Soothe My Soul and the very enjoyable Gesaffelstein Remix of Goodbye. How excellent to see an album track remix as a b-side. I always enjoy that as it's a real treat - like when the Metal Mix of Something To Do
appeared on the limited edition 12" of Shake The Disease. CD2 (left) featured 6 remixes of varying degrees of quality: Steve Angello vs Jacques Le Cont remix (ok), Tom Furse The Horrors Remix (ok again), Billy F Gibbons and Joe Hardy Remix (yes THAT Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top  - an odd mix but passable), Joris Delacroix Remix (pointless), Black Asteriod Remix (A great remix - hooray for that!) and Gregor Tresher Soothed Remix (I've just finished listening to it and have already forgotten it).
The 12" (same art as CD1) had the Steve Angello vs Jacques Le Cont remix and three other remixes being the Matador Remix (ok), Destructo Remix (again ok) and the Gregor Tresher Remix which seems to bear a strong resemblance to his Soothed Remix from CD2. Not the most essential set of remixes you'll ever find.

The final single from Delta Machine was Should Be Higher one of Dave's three tracks from the album. I like the song but for me it's the weakest of Dave's tracks this time round. It's no stinker like I Want It All but a song like Broken could well have been a hit which you would think would have been something the band and label might have been interested in. The single came out on 11 October 2013 and was much more of a success than Soothe My Soul by reaching number 81 in the UK. There's no sarcasm font so you'll have to imply the sarcasm when you read that sentence. The undoubted highlight of this release was Anton's video (below) which was made from the summer live shows in Berlin, Leipzig and Munich. It shows how impressive the stage set up was generally and how bloody marvellous the film and lights for this song were. More about the live shows in a bit. Watch the video and see how brilliant Depeche Mode are.

Format wise we once again had the 2 CD and 12" collection all of which were stuffed full of remixes that with one exception were shoddy shite. I really do wonder if the band bothered to listen to these remixes at all before approving them. At least they were involved with the likes of It's Called A Heart (Slow Mix) or The Meaning of Love (Fairly Odd Mix) - it's worse in my opinion that they trot out releases full of crap like these when they have no direct input to them at all. I know that I don't HAVE to buy them but the thing is I and many other people DO buy them because we enjoy collecting Depeche Mode releases no matter how much Sony make a balls of actually releasing them. I'd at least like to have the option of considering listening to a release for a second time rather than playing it once and hiding it away so I never have to hear it again. There can be fingers pointed at the Delta Machine project for the shoddy release plan to the lack of a 5.1 version of the album (not a complaint of mine but many feel pissed off about it) and that is a real shame because the album is great and the tour was fantastic. Yeah ok these may be the gripes of hardcore fans as opposed to causal ones and it is the casual fans who fill more seats in stadia than hardcore ones but some consideration of the Black Swarm might not go amiss.
Anwway, CD1 (above right) had the Radio Mix of Should Be Higher and the Little Vampire Remix Single edit of the song. CD2 (below) contains the radio mix, two pointlessly crap remixes, possibly the worst remix ever and one good one. The good one is the MAPS remix which is really enjoyable. The pointlessly crap ones are the Jim Sclavunos From Ginderman Remix and the Little Vampire Remix. Finally the Jim Jones Revue remix is easily
the most dreadful Depeche Mode remix ever. It sounds like a drunk guy took a cd of the song to the pub and played it whilst walking all over a piano and recording the resulting "music" on his phone. Remarkably crap. Hilariously enough the 12" (above) tops this horror show with six mixes that I presume were recorded for a joke. Either that or the 12" was mispressed and instead we were given six songs
gs by a drunk guy trying to make what he mistakenly thought was techno music. The mixes are all uniformly appalling and don't merit individual comment. They are: Truss Remix, MPIA3 Definition, Koen Groenveveld Massive Remix, Pangaea dub Remix, Uberzone Remix and DJMREX Remix. Avoid them all for ever.

So they were the releases. The band embarked on a mammoth 106 date tour and I was lucky enough to go to the shows at the O2, Munich, Belfast, Dublin and Glasgow. The tour's first leg in Europe was probably the highlight for most as the band regularly played 23 song sets which were then trimmed to 19 or so for the remaining US and Europe indoor legs. It was nice to see the band mixing it up a bit with remix versions of A Pain That I'm Used To and Halo (beautiful) and on the first leg at least it was nice to see so many Delta Machine songs get an airing. As ever the latter part of the tour became pretty similar show to show and was livened up only by Martin's solo slots the highlight of which for me at least was his singing But Not Tonight which moved me to Guinness assisted tears in Dublin. Rather than go on about the tour here I'll cheekily refer you to my own tour blog which can be found here

And that was Delta Machine. It's funny finishing this off as that brings me bang up to date with my Depeche Mode album blogs. Let's hope there's another one in the future. Finally a few thank yous:
Thanks to , and for letting me steal facts and pictures

Thanks to Glen at Breathing In Fumes for bringing Depeche music to the podcast masses

Thanks to everyone over the last 12 months thanks for getting involved on my and the blog's  Twitter and Facebook pages ( @davidjmcelroy @almostprdalmost and this blog's Facebook page

and finally thanks to you whoever you are for reading this. Since I started I've been blown away by the reception this blog has had and it makes me feel so happy that you like it. The end of the tour doesn't mean that the Depeche blogging stops so bear with me as there will be a few interesting things coming in the near future.


  1. Another quality read and what a great year that was mate

  2. I still think the album is VERY strong. It's maybe too early to say but for me it ranks up alongside what I feel is their best work (Violator, SOFAD and Ultra).

  3. Delta Machine has grown into one of my top favorite records. I've always rotated between SOFAD, Ultra, and Playing the Angel as my favorites, but I find Delta Machine working its way into that conversation.

    And you're wrong about Should Be Higher being the weaker of Dave's tracks this time around. WRONG I SAY! :)

  4. fab great blog enjoyed alot :-)

  5. Good job as usual.
    Agree on almost everything (especially the remixes quality and the BONG end!), except the quality of Should Be Higher, the best track of the album IMO.