In an obvious attempt to pander to my core audience, welcome to the first in a series of no-one's yet quite sure how many pieces of what I'm calling Arbitrary Depeche Mode Things. Not the snappiest title I admit, but we're between albums, I've said all I can say about their discography (I still don't apologise for the Exciter post) and I need to write about what I actually know. So here we go: welcome to Arbitrary Depeche Mode Things No. 1 - The Top Ten 1980's Remixes
(all remixes chosen by me only. You may not agree. Knowing DM fans, you won't agree, I'll be horribly wrong and you'll run screaming to play The Things You Said on repeat to get over the shock but do bear in mind that this is all for fun. Sort of like Set Me Free (Remotivate Me) but good. Anyway, onwards...)
10. OBERKORN (IT'S A SMALL TOWN) - DEVELOPMENT MIX (1982)
Oberkorn is quite literally a small town, situated in South-West Luxembourg and with a population of only around 5,000 people. Depeche Mode's tourbus drove through there in the very early days and Martin was, presumably, so taken with it that he wrote a song all about it. It's the b-side to the horrific 1982 single The Meaning Of Love and is, unlike it's quite implausibly bad parent tune, an instrumental filled to the brim with dark synth sounds and haunting gothic melodies. The Construction Time Again foreshadowing Development Mix is a 7 minute 37 second imperious beast of experimental electronics that showed that Depeche Mode were far more than the pop tarts The Meaning Of Love showed them to be. Haunting, brooding and just bloody fantastic, Oberkorn (It's A Small Town) (Development Mix) is a hidden treasure in the early DM catalogue
9. ROUTE 66 - BEATMASTERS MIX (1988)
9. ROUTE 66 - BEATMASTERS MIX (1988)
The first time I properly noticed Depeche Mode was when I repeatedly watched the 101 video at a mate's house. Yes the main tunes were all magic and utterly transfixing, but the cover of Route 66, used as repeat motif throughout the film (hmmm...really?) stood out. An English electronic band covering a song about a big road in America sung by the wee guy that wears make up? Yes, yes indeed. As the imperious World Violation tour was copied by U2's Zoo TV tour, Depeche beat the Dubliners to the whole Rattle & Hum thing by providing their own take on American music but, because they are Depeche Mode, they did it in a cool way, not a crap way. Route 66 was of course the b-side to the similarly car themed Behind The Wheel and 80's remix crowd The Beatmasters provide a sample filled but, frankly marvellous remix which deservedly makes this seemingly random top 10.
8. MASTER & SERVANT - SLAVERY WHIP MIX (1984)
Perhaps calling this remix the Slavery Whip Mix extended the whole chains, whips and general pervy but not actually that pervy thing too far, but that's easily forgiveable when you have a remix as good as this. As with most of the mixes here, the band did this and they take the 4 minute pop song and effortlessly turn it into a nine and half minute beast of a track. Drums smash, basslines go mental, whips crack and Depeche Mode go from pop to industrial in one fell swoop. It's a thumping belter of a track and what it lacks in subtlety is more than made up in its utterly unquestionable genius. PLUS - there's the odd acapella/double bass bit at the end which is just weird. It's a lot like life indeed.
7. JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH - SCHIZO MIX (1981)
Ah Just Can't Get Enough. The track everyone knows, the track many people think is the only thing Depeche ever did and the track you can no longer play in Glasgow without angering 50% of the people in the vicinity. The single is a landmark piece of prime, pristine, perfect synthpop, but the 12" mix, the Schizo Mix, is the real gem. Transformed from the simple single, this mix breathes new life (I didn't mean that) into the song, turning it into a brooding Kraftwerkian masterpiece that mixes experimentalism with early synthpop in a way that remains magical.
6. EVERYTHING COUNTS - IN LARGER AMOUNTS (1983)
Firstly, let's acknowledge the simple genius of the remix title. You all know the chorus ("Everything counts in large amounts") so it makes more sense than anything else has ever made to call this 12" version In Larger Amounts. It's genius. The mix itself is ridiculously good: the original song's noises get room to breathe, exposing every clunk, thump, metal scrape and odd flute thing (I still forget the name) for the marvels they are. Add to that extra electronics, sampled vocals that found their way into the live version ("The graph...The graph...The graph...The handshake) and you have something very special indeed. If Depeche Mode had stopped remixing their own tracks after this, they'd have been justified in doing so - it's perfect.
5. GET THE BALANCE RIGHT - COMBINATION MIX (1983)
Beyond acknowledging that Taylor Swift's 1989 is an unimpeachable pop classic, I have little interest in what clutters up the charts these days. I do know, however that someone sang relatively recently about something being all about "that bass." Whilst her musical adventures are misguided, she was right in that sense and this remix (don't worry, this is getting to the point) IS all about the bass. Bassline anyway. The band take a relatively ordinary and Martin Gore despised song and transform it into a club masterpiece that bewitched the likes of Derrick May and Juan Atkins and directly influenced their own highly influential music, remarkably enough. This remix gives the original song a power it simply doesn't ordinarily have. Superb.
(NB - Check out the lyrics. You may find the inspiration for this blog's name)
4. SHAKE THE DISEASE - REMIXED EXTENDED VERSION (1985)
It's a universally accepted truth that Shake The Disease is one of the greatest songs ever penned by anyone. This, surprisingly enough, remixed and extended version of the track takes you on an 8 minute 46 second journey that breaks your heart, rebuilds it, smacks some metal off a fence and then breaks your heart again. Titanic, metallic majesty.
3. PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE - DIFFERENT MIX (1984)
Frankly, all that you need to know about this remix is that it sounds like a factory waking up with a hangover before it spends a day crushing metal
And that is a very, very good thing.
2. STRIPPED - HIGHLAND MIX (1986)
Stripped is a Depeche song that most people would agree is a classic, and it marks the band's transformation from pop mixed with experimental elements to the full on gloomy synth powered beast that would conquer the world. The whole Black Celebration period is exquisite and, as I've rather pretentiously said before, that album is effectively the manifesto for Depeche Mode fans. Stripped was the album's lead single and it's a perfect introduction to that album. This remix takes the track in a slightly different direction, stretching it and allowing its various parts to shine whilst adding a bagpipe like synth sound (hence the title) to kick it all off. Moodier and perhaps less immediate than the 7" version, the Highland Mix is however an absolute triumph filled with power and gothic angst. It's just what a 12" mix should be and still sounds brilliant.
1. NEVER LET ME DOWN AGAIN - SPLIT MIX (1987)
There can only be one winner here and the Split Mix of Never Let Me Down Again is it. A song that was already, and still is, among the best and most powerful in Depeche's catalogue is turned into an even more powerful beast. 9 minutes 31 seconds long, it starts with that orchestral sample part which instantly makes every hair on your and anyone else's body within a 10 mile radius stand on end. From then on, you are in heaven as the song you know smashes you around the head before being taken onto several greater levels as it builds to a shuddering climax. It's absolutely mindblowing and if you ever find yourself stuck on a desert island with the choice of only one Depeche Mode remix make it this. The second you start playing it the desert island will be scared into sailing itself towards land again. Powerful, mesmerising and irrefutably majestic, THIS is the best Depeche Mode remix of the 1980's
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