Wednesday, 1 July 2020

WELL IT'S ABOUT TIME : DEPECHE MODE - LiVE SPiRiTS




I'm often accused of being unable to criticise Depeche Mode, seen as a cheerleader for the band unable to analyse their work objectively. Certainly my deep love of Depeche means that any new album is greeted with almost unbridled enthusiasm - my Spirit review is evidence of that alone - but when I do criticise the band, as I did when they released the pointless and amusingly expensive Mode boxset, I get criticised for offering a negative opinion. That's life I suppose, and if I'm silly enough to expect people to read things that I put up online about a band whose fanbase is, to put it mildly, dedicated then I am of course fair game. 

Depeche Mode split opinion in many areas, not least within their own fanbase. Everything they say, do or release is subject to levels of analysis that would make a United Nations debate seem under prepared. You know the battle grounds by now - Alan or no Alan, drums or no drums, obscure album tracks or greatest hits, anything new not being as good as anything old and so on and so on and so on until the internet runs out of space because someone in the Ukraine is telling someone in Montreal that the whole world changed for the worse when Alan left over two decades ago. It'll never end. 

Tours are one of the great uniting factors among Depeche Mode fans however. Everyone loves a Depeche Mode tour and the gigs are now huge communal meet-ups celebrating the best band there has ever been (note lack of objectivity - it was quite deliberate).Ok, not everyone loves the tours. People will always complain about setlist variation (very little of that since 1984 fact fans) or the new band set up, more of which in a bit, but, in the main, Depeche Mode fans love a Depeche Mode tour.



And Depeche Mode fans loved the Global Spirit Tour. The band played their biggest tour ever, taking in 130 mainly sold out dates. The enthusiasm for the tour was such that I managed to get all 130 gigs reviewed on this blog by fans who were at them and, in the main, the reviews were all positive. I went to nine gigs in total, from the Barrowlands to both nights in Berlin, and every one I went to was an incredible experience. Things like the new remixes of Everything Counts and Walking In My Shoes, "Heroes" at the London Stadium, Personal Jesus at the Barrowlands and three days in Berlin with friends old and new that I will never forget meant that the Global Spirit Tour was a remarkable event for me. I know many other people felt the same and so there was great interest in the live film that would inevitably follow the tour when cameras were noted at the Waldbuhne gigs.

Now, no live recording will replicate the feeling of being at the gig that was actually recorded; no-one would ever expect that. I was lucky to have been at the Waldbuhne and I genuinely thought that gig was one of the best Depeche shows I've been to as my review said. That night, Stripped sounded as good as it ever has done, a titanic track played against a backdrop of a glorious deep pink sky as the sun finally set over the stage. Never Let Me Down Again was louder than I had ever heard it and all the better for it and the whole set with the exception of the mood slowing Poison Heart and Where's The Revolution flew by, positively crackling with electricity from beginning to end. It was a special gig to be at and the crowd had an edge, infused with an unspoken agreement between us all that we would celebrate this glorious band in case, as is always rumoured, that this was going to be the last Depeche Mode show ever. The feeling that everyone present had that night could never be replicated but surely it could at least be hinted at on any release?. Surely LiVE SPiRiTS should show people just how good it was?



Sadly, it doesn't. This live album is flat. It's badly mixed, it seems too slow in places (play Stripped from this and then listen to the bootlegs - something has gone wrong somewhere) and, in places, it just sounds awful. It lays bare things you don't acknowledge on the tour such as a Depeche Mode gig being no place for a bass guitar or the sounds the band use on tracks like Everything Counts are weak cover band versions of the real thing, a real thing the band played for years with no need to alter it. There is far too much here that just doesn't fit - it's really strange.

Ultimately, it's just really disappointing. There are moments of absolute genius of course, such as The Things You Said (sigh...), Everything Counts' incredible intro (though PLEASE lose those bloody tom- tom fills - ARGH) and a quite glorious "Heroes," one of the night's emotional high points, but there are not enough of those moments. I usually try to shy away from the whole things-aren't-as-good-as-they-used-to-be thing, but it's no Devotional or 101. To be perfectly honest, the live tracks on the Limited edition 12" singles of Get The Balance Right, Everything Counts and Love In Itself have more life to them overall. 

The live album, a few tracks aside, isn't one I'll return to much if at all. The DVD is great to have because it takes me back to that glorious night in Berlin and there are moments on it that brought me out of my seat like I was celebrating yet another glorious Mo Salah goal (Liverpool have just won the league - let me have this) but it doesn't get across the energy the whole arena positively fizzed with that night. I've seen people take issue with a number of the performance aspects on the DVD but I'm not that interested in analysing Dave's dancing, Martin's bouncing/dancing thing or Peter's petering. I'm interested in the music and sadly, this release doesn't hit the heights I need it to.

As I've mentioned above, I would never expect that this release would allow me to feel what I felt at the gig - even for a Depeche Mode fan that would be a demand too far. What I expected though was something that at least sounded like I know the band sounded that night at what a special gig. What we've got instead is a decent enough show that sounds like it was played at a decent enough venue during a decent enough tour. Nearly two years on from the Waldbuhne, it doesn't serve as a memento of a great tour; it serves as nothing more than a reminder a tour happened.

And, believe me, as a band cheerleader, I hate saying that.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

COMPOSITION OF MODE - A 40TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL





When you think of iconic venues Depeche Mode have played, there are a few names that spring to mind immediately. Dodgers Stadium, London Stadium, Waldbuhne and, of course, the Rose Bowl all stand out, each one a venue that Depeche Mode fans can spend hours talking about, no doubt debating whether the set at the particular venue was better because of Alan/no Alan or drums/no drums or Martin's solo set and so on. We've been there many times before and we don't need to go there again just now.

One venue that is rarely thought of as an iconic Depeche Mode landmark is Nicholas Comprehensive School in Basildon. Arguably, it is one of, if not the most important live venue in the band's history, because 40 years ago today, Dave Gahan first appeared live with Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Vince Clarke, performing lead vocals with Composition Of Sound, the band renamed as Depeche Mode in September 1980. 

Nicolas School, Basildon, picture couresty of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Nicholas Comprehensive School is now called the James Hornsby School following a merger in 1998. Martin and Andy attended the school, as did Alison Moyet. There can surely be very few schools that can boast as many global record sales as Nicholas Comprehensive and it's hard to think of any establishment outside Kling Klang Studios that has had more of an impact on electronic music. The school is proud of its connection to Depeche Mode and has erected a plaque beside its stage to commemorate the June 1980 gig:



We can forgive the error about the name of the band who played the gig. Prior to the 14th of June show, Composition Of Sound had been a three piece consisting of Vince playing guitar or keyboards, Martin on keyboards, Fletch on bass guitar and a drum machine. Having famously noticed Dave covering "Heroes" in April 1980, Vince recruited him for the band, though the three piece version of Composition Of Sound did play a handful of gigs before Dave's debut, mainly in people's living rooms or at parties. Their final gig as a three piece was at Woodlands Youth Club. After that, Dave joined and took the job that he still has forty years later.

 Dave, May 1980 - Picture (c) Deb Danahay

Dave's debut gig was arranged by a Steve Burton, a friend of Andy's. Steve told Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group:

"I was on the committee of the Nicholas Old Pupils Association who were looking to arrange an event to promote the organisation. I said that some friends of mine had recently formed a band and were looking for opportunities to perform live. I assured the committee that the band were good and that people would come along to support a gig. So it was agreed to clear the large locker room out in Nicholas School to make a stage and set big enough for Composition of Sound."

Steve spoke about the gig in Simon Spence's excellent book Just Can't Get Enough too, saying:

"It was a ticket-only do and a load of the local yobbos who couldn't get in got a load of stones and went around smashing a load of school windows."

As anyone who has seen Depeche Mode anywhere will attest, that doesn't sound a million miles away from the atmosphere at the band's gigs now among the...erm...more devoted elements of the band's fanbase.

Picture (c) Deb Danahay

It seems the gig took place on the school's stage rather than in a cleared-out room. Deb Danahay kindly provided me the picture above which shows Nicholas Comprehensive School's stage which, as you can see, has the plaque I mentioned above to its right-hand side. Deb used to run an event that involved a walking tour of early Depeche Mode hotspots and the stage in the picture was included in that. 

Martin was a busy man on 14th June as he also played in French Look who were the other band on the bill as you can see on the event poster at the top of this blog. The poster was designed by Vince's brother Rodney. I very much like the reel to reel tape player that it features, an at that point unknown nod to how that machine would feature in Depeche Mode's live sets in the next couple of years. The fact Martin played in both bands caused some tension between Robert Marlow and Vince as both wanted Martin to be in their band and thought he shouldn't be in the other one. Luckily Vince was the more persuasive of the two as, without that, I very much doubt this blog would exist. It may be the case that in some parallel universe French Look have just played two nights at the Waldbuhne to end an 18 month long world tour however. We'll never know.

After Martin changed from his French Look wear into his Composition Of Sound gear, the new four piece took to the stage and Depeche Mode were born. Sadly no recordings of this gig exist and no-one is certain what the setlist was. In his interview with the Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group, Steve Burton suggests that the set could have been along these lines:

Ice Machine
Virginia Plain (Roxy Music cover)
Mirror Is Standing
Television Set
Photographic
Then He Kissed Me (The Crystals cover) (NB - it's likely that instead of Then He Kissed Me, the song played at the 14th of June gig was Then I Kissed Her which would be a cover of the Beach Boys' reworded cover of The Crystals song ) 
Big Muff
Sunday Morning

Of the original songs performed by the band, there are no known recordings of Mirror Is Standing and Sunday Morning in circulation. Both were early Vince compositions and according to band associate Daryl Bamonte in Bong, the much missed Depeche Mode fanclub magazine, "no-one remembers" Mirror Is Standing and Sunday Morning was "performed maybe just two or three times and was performed in the style of a hymn-like chant." In Bong 24, the issue I've taken the quotes from, you can see early setlists, one of which is not too far from the setlist Steve has mentioned. Swap Virginia Plain for Price Of Love, a song that Composition Of Sound played around that time, and the handwritten list to the bottom right of the picture below may be the one from the 14th of June 1980. It's a longshot or course but you never know.

Bong24, page 18


As the "hymn-like chant" of Sunday Morning ended (is anyone else thinking of the "oh -ee -oh" of Pimpf when they read that? No. Just me then), it's unlikely that anyone present at Nicholas Comprehensive School thought they had just witnessed the first steps of a band who would go on to be one of the world's biggest, most influential bands. It seems a long way from a cover of a cover of a Crystals song on a school stage to Just Can't Get Enough going Top Ten. From there it seems an even longer way to Everything Counts, Black Celebration, 101, Violator and so on. 

The remarkable thing is that three quarters of the band who played the last gig of the Global Spirit Tour at the Waldbuhne on July 25th 2018 are the same people who played together with Vince Clarke for the first time ever forty years ago today. What a journey they've been on and what a journey they've taken us all on. 

So much that I love and so much that you love exists because of this concert and that is why Nicholas Comprehensive School, Basildon deserves to be mentioned alongside the Rose Bowl, Dodgers, London Stadium and Waldbuhne. After all, without it it's likely that those four names would mean nothing to us at all. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks very much to Deb Danahay, Debbie Rawhouser, Tracey Dunne, Simon Spence and Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group.





Tuesday, 31 March 2020

AS YEARS GO BY, ALL THE FEELINGS INSIDE - VIOLATOR'S LEGACY


As I declared at the start of this month, Violator is my favourite Depeche Mode album and is in fact my favourite album of all time. The same applies for many Depeche Mode fans and for us, ther is no real question of what Violator's legacy is; it's been with us for thirty years and will continue to remain with us for many more.

For the band, the album changed everything. People started to talk about their influence on house music and their peers acknowledged that Violator was Depeche Mode's finest work. The music press finally took note of their huge worldwide success and belatedly, and occasionally grudgingly, noted that this was well deserved. Violator made Depeche Mode a genuine stadium band and that was all on their own terms. They didn't compromise in any way when making the album by altering their sound to make it more mainstream or stadium friendly; instead they challenged their fans by adding guitars, bringing in a new producer and adding layers to their sound to make it darker and more intense. While the album had two genuine hit singles worldwide, this was an album of a breadth and scope unlike any previous Depeche album.

Of all the things that Violator should be praised for, achieving the career defining success the band did with this album entirely on their own terms deserves the most praise. It is a remarkable achievement. With The Cure having finished The Prayer tour, R.E.M. in transition from Green's arena filling to Out Of Time's stay at home acoustic vibe and U2 still working on Achtung Baby, for most of 1990 Depeche Mode were arguably the biggest live draw in the world. That is a remarkable thing. 

The album is now spoken of in near universally reverential terms by the media and is regularly cited as Depeche Mode's best and most influential album. It's place in musical history is secure.

The band's success meant that their next album Songs Of Faith And Devotion was very much "a big thing."  The whole world was waiting for a new Depeche Mode album and the band came back in style as we all know. Their were of course other issues involved in that album's recording and touring but they're not something we need to look at now, if ever. 

Violator's succcess was the catalyst for many things - Songs Of Faith And Devotion, Alan's departure, Ultra and no tour and so on. In terms of sales, the band have not come close to matching Violator but, as the huge success of 2017/18's Global Spirit Tour shows, the band have not lost their ability to attract huge crowds wherever they go. I don't think it's much of a leap to say that, without Violator, that type of tour at this stage in their career would not have been possible. 

Ultimately, Depeche Mode's enduring appeal and success is Violator's legacy. It is a legacy that truly deserve.


Writing a month long blog is an odd experience, especially when I consider that I'm testing people's patience by popping up each day and asking them to read something new that concerns something they love and have their own opinions about. Doing that against the background of a worldwide pandemic however quickly makes you realise how irrelevant this is when compared to the very real problems millions of people are facing worldwide.

Thank you all very much then for reading everything this month. It's always very humbling to find out that one person reads anything I do, never mind the large number of people who have got in touch over the last four weeks. If nothing else, I hope it's brought a smile or two to your face during whatever period of lockdown your Government has you under. 

Thank you very much too to the guest bloggers this month - Kevin May, Michael Rose, Glen Hammarstrom, Dicken Schrader, Amanda Stock, Panos Sialakas, Matthew Wolfe, Sean Salo, Niggels Uhlenbruch and Shaun Coward a.k.a @PollicyOfTruth. I couldn't have completed a month's worth of posts without your input.

Finally....


As I might have mentioned, Kevin May and I have a book coming out - it's called Halo and it's all about Violator.  We are still aiming for a late May release but recent global events have meant that Kevin's life has been taken over by work issues, so we may be a week or two late. After a month of Violator related posts on here, you may well welcome the delay.

To conclude the month, we thought it would be interesting to let the people we've interviewed give their thoughts on Violator and its legacy. Here are some quotes to give you a taste of what is to come and who’s involved, plus the names of fans who have contributed (some of whom you will have already seen snippets during this month).

For news about Halo, and for more of the usual Depeche Mode nonsense, keep an eye on the blog and also the book’s official website 

Halo Interviewees:

Francois Kevorkian, Violator mixer
When I saw them in concert, when Martin did a song by himself, which was just an acoustic guitar and singing, it was just like: "Well, I never got to see John Lennon but I got to see you. And that's good enough for me." 

Richard Smith, designer at Area
He [Anton] showed me the rose and explained his thought process behind it - about a delicate sort of object, violated, so it was a very subtle and simple nod to the title of the album. It’s painted red and it then has this kind of subtle reference to some sort of violation in a more gothic way, I suppose. The rest of the package was just me trying to sort of put my mark on my first album cover and exploring ways of treating the typography and the lyrics and using the photography. 

Andy Franks, tour manager for the World Violation Tour
There was a place – in Japan, I think – where smoke machines were banned. We weren’t sure what was going to happen but then, suddenly, we saw 200 guys outside with black bin liners that they were filling up with smoke for each machine. Then they were shaking the bags to let the smoke out into the stage - it was absolutely brilliant! 

Steve Lyon, Violator engineer in London
The tracks, before Francois mixed them - and he mixed them very well in the end - were slightly more robust and rocky. I remember the three of us - me at the helm, and then Flood and Alan telling me what to do on the desk; we did some rough mixes of the album. They were definitely rockier than the final version of Violator

Paul Kendall, owner Worldwide International and engineer on Enjoy The Silence (The Quad:Final Mix) 
I performed a few percussive in/out breath chugs (on my harmonica). To my absolute joy, my chug is immortalised in Personal Jesus, coming in around one minute in. It (Violator) is/was a great album and Flood succeeded in creating a new Depeche sound, aided and abetted by Alan and Daniel. 

Richard Bell, video producer and World Violation Tour stage film producer
Super 8 isn’t a slick format. It’s got a huge grain and is a non-professional format. It was designed for home use. So, they are not slick videos, generally. If you had shot Enjoy the Silence on a 35mm film, it would be completely different. And, I think that’s reflected in the music. The sound is right with Depeche. 

Pino Pischetola, Violator engineer in Milan
I remember one occasion, he [Fletch] came back from England and he had over 1,000 postcards to sign - so every bit of time off they had, it was signing postcards...forever! But it was a sign that they still wanted a great relationship with their fans. 

David Browne, engineer on Enjoy The Silence
One thing I would say about Flood is that he was very down to earth. I remember, bringing him into the control room, started to explain the desk to him, and he just stopped me half way and said: ‘Dave, it doesn’t matter. A desk is a desk.’” 

Bruce Kirkland, owner of Second Vision publicity agency
You know, not to be sort of blasé about it, but as a marketing person this [Wherehouse Records incident] was sort of what you look for you - a national event and, eventually, an international event. 

Billie Rae Martin, singer for Electribe 101
The album is what turned DM into a religion, which to this day they still are in Germany. Great songwriting and seminal production from Flood. It's sort of the ultimate DM album. 

Nils Tuxen, Danish steel guitar player and first outside musician on a Depeche Mode album
Depeche Mode is the biggest name I've worked for as a studio musician. I was free to play anything I wanted. It was only years later when my daughter found out that I was used on Clean that I became aware that Alan had used samples of my steel guitar.

Robert Baldi, Violator engineer in Milan
We saw a lot of movement, people getting the studio ready, so I assumed that it was probably a big band – someone famous. He didn’t tell us the name but I was a big fan of them, so it was shocking. When I saw Martin, I just thought: "Fuck my life - they're really here.” 


Gareth Jones, producer on Construction Time Again, Some Great Reward and Black Celebration 
There’s something about the architecture of the [Violator] album. The way the instrumentation supports the vocals, the songwriting, the power of the album. The sound of the album is very modern and contemporary and glossy, which is obviously the band, the producer, the engineers, the mixers, the whole thing - everything just kind clicked. 

Mistie Fowlks, daughter of the owners of Strange Too drive-in theatre, Salt Lake City
My brother and I snuck into one of the RVs and took some empty Corona bottles and a piece of chewed gum. We kept the bottles but my brother sold the gum to a girl at school that next school year and she put the gum in her mouth, chewed and said it was just like kissing Dave Gahan. 

Neil Ferris, promoter
Daniel always chose the singles. Funnily enough, he would play me the record, then say "take it home and play it to Gill", my wife, who was also in the record industry. And we'd go through a little scenario: that would happen on every record, where Daniel would ring and say: "Well, what do you think? No actually, what does Gill think?" Personal Jesus I knew was going to be a huge record but we also knew I was going to have problems with it on radio because of the content. 

Phil Legg, engineer on Enjoy The Silence
When I heard it on the screen with the video, I remember thinking “Wow!” All those things you try and do; I think in this digital world, we can do thinks much quicker but in those days you worked hard to get something to have some sort of flavor or appeal. We did that with Enjoy The Silence.

Angela Sheldon, actress in the video for Clean
I was a huge fan of Martin Gore and more than happy to make out with him. I was actually dating an extremely jealous guy who flipped out when I told him, so I broke up with him to do the video 

Pam Heffler, actress in the video for Halo
I am actually surprised by the video. I didn't know it was going to be so unusual - unusual in a great way! 

Contributors:
Caroline Rose, France
Chris Snodden, Northern Ireland
Emily von Spears, USA
Genevieve Munroe, USA
Niggels Uhlenbruch, Germany
Panos Sialakas, Greece
Ranjit Chal, England
Rob Rohm, USA
Michael Rose, England
Sean Salo, USA
Stephane Devillers, France


Monday, 30 March 2020

TOO LATE TO CHANGE EVENTS - A @POLLICYOFTRUTH POLLS SPECIAL


When politicians sense trouble or when they prepare for re-election, they are quick to take to the polls. They want to test the public mood and make sure that they adapt their approach to match the demands of a public hungry for progress. Similarly, depending on where you live, every 5 years or so (or every year in the UK since the fixed term Parliament act came in...), you get the chance to vote. You get your say. Democracy is important, never moreso than in these bizarre locked down times, so to ensure that Depeche Mode's Twitter masses got the right to exercise their vote, I engaged top notch polling company Mori to run a series of investigative polls that would allow me to drill deep into the heart of the Depeche Mode fanbase.

They were unavailable however as the numerous emails and subsequent threatening legal letters I received indicated. Cambridge Analytica told me they were too busy fixing the results of the 2020 American election to help, so I turned to the darkest of all polling sources. A source so intrusive that data mining is something he does for fun only, this was the only man who could help me.



Not much is known about Twitter's @PollicyOfTruth. Some say that it is Alan Wilder himself, others that it is a high ranking Sony executive. Some even say that he's a guy from England with poor taste in football teams and a wish that music still sounded like it did in the late 80's to mid 90's. Whoever he is, he asked the questions that needed to be asked, you answered them and here are the results. THIS is what you think of Depeche Mode's Violator era.

POLL 1:


An unsurprising but correct result there.

POLL 2:




A significant win for Pump Mix there, trouncing all other remixes. 

POLL 3:


Interesting, The Quad: Final Mix did get a lot of support after this poll was issued. Whether that was enough to see off the runanway victor Hands & Feet Mix is something we will never know. Unless you want to find that tweet and count the votes of course.

POLL 4:


A tough choice as the poll suggests. Policy Of Truth was an all-round well remixed track. Capitol Mix ended up a runaway winner, however,  I would have thought that it would have been much closer between it and Beat Box but what do I know? After spending this month looking for Violator era pictures and reviews that no-one has ever seen before, I barely know my own name.

POLL 5:



A stunning win for Oil Tank Mix there, taking nearly half of the votes. Quite right too.

POLL 6:



An interesting poll here. Somewhere, some lucky person has the original Violator demos and they will have heard Martin sing each of its 9 songs. All we have are the demos of Clean and Sweetest Perfection from the Sounds Of The Universe deluxe box set (check under your bed - you have it) and, of course, the Harmonium version of Enjoy The Silence. That mix no doubt coloured a few votes, but Enjoy The Silence winning seems like the right result to me. It's hard to imagine Martin singing the others with the booming authority Dave does. 

So there we are. YOU have spoken. If you didn't take the chance to vote, then you have failed in your duty as a Depeche Mode fan. These results will stand for all time and there is nothing I or @PollicyOfTruth can do.

To ensure you excerise your democratic right in future, head to Twitter now and follow @PollicyOfTruth. Only you can determine how future Depeche Mode polls will finish. Meanwhile, I need to go and leave a bag of money and six cans of premium strength lager behind a caravan somewhere at a location I cannot disclose for security reasons. I have paid my price. If only Cambridge Analytica had been free.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

WORLD VIOLATION LIVE REVIEWS


There is universal agreement among Depeche Mode fans about the World Violation tour. Those who saw it will say that it was unforgettable and a must see Depeche gig; those who didn't see it will say that they wish they had done so. What did the press think of it though? And how many times did the British music press mention Just Can't Get Enough? Read on.

Picture courtesy of Michael Rose

The NME's reporter liked the Wembley Arena show but not Violator itself. He called the gig "(S)lick as hell, honed to perfection playing baseball stadiums that dwarf Wembley Arena," going on to note that "Here was total production, a show, as opposed to four sweaty oiks playing synthesizers." He then complimented the films that played behind the band and called Dave "(A)s close to a seasoned superstar as a Basildon boy gets."  Unfortunately, he then goes on to say that the actual music "(P)assed by virtually unnoticed," before adding that Personal Jesus was in his view "a mediocre single in anyone's book."  He liked the lights and films basically. 

Picture courtesy of Michael Rose

The London Evening Standard's review of the same gig was much more positive. It said:

"Their concert at Wembley Arena was much more akin to an evangelical meeting, such was the devotion of the saluting crowd."

I think we all know what that feels like. The reviewer, Spencer Bright, loved the show, concluding:

"(Dave's) bass voice monotonously whipped up the frenzy from oldies like Everything Counts through to the current first-rate Violator album, climaxing at the end of the main set with a mesmerising Your Personal Jesus (sic)...Unlike all their peers in that distant New Romantic movement of the early Eighties, Depeche Mode astonishingly seem as if they are yet to peak."

Song title error aside, a decent review.



Pictures courtesy of Michael Rose


Melody Maker's review of the Wembley show was again mainly positive. Paul Lester said:

"Here is a band who have stayed the course, survived the swerves and lane-changes of musical fashion, and basically kept, if not ahead of the times, at least in step with them like no other band of their era...Depeche take their mile-high stack of jukebox standards, polish them up, warp them in glistening Acid-metallic armature, slip a gleaming steel post-House chassis underneath when no-one's looking and turn them into monuments to new Sonic architecture."

A good review in other words but all very Melody Maker-y at the same time. 

The Guardian seemed to enjoy the show, saying "The final section of the show was akin to a celebration, if Clean or the lugubrious Never Let Me Down Again could be thus described. Personal Jesus certainly could, as Gore thrashed at his guitar to bring the Mode as close as they have come to Status Quo; busty cowgirls adorned the back-projection as the Mode swaggered moodily by in cowboy hats."

Picture courtesy of Paul Jeffrey

To try and work out why Depeche Mode were so big, Select Magazine headed to Germany to take in a gig or two. The reporter noticed that all 17,000 fans in Dortmund's Westfalenhalle were "feverish" with "Depeche Mode's spartan bedroom electronics and bass imperatives (stretching) out to fill the place, subdue it and make it theirs."  He goes to add "These days, they're totems of teenage sexual neurosis in Ray-Bans, corrupters of international youth, and the only people to sell the vaunted sonic metal disco sound of the mid-80's and still retain their credibility." 


All pictures courtesy of Paul Jeffrey

I've included all four pages of the Select article as it's an interesting read all round, showing the UK press getting to grips with Depeche Mode being something very big indeed. It ends on a note I think we can all agree on:

"But, believe it or not, World Violation is, first and foremost, a rock 'n' roll show on a panoramic scale. Perhaps it's just the volume, or the shock of finding such solitary in a context of size and excess, but in 1990, Depeche Mode win by simple power. It's not simply stunning - at times it's frightening.

Personal Jesus is a case in point. On record it snarls and spits, the perfect antithesis to the redundant pretty-boy image of Depeche Mode that still lingers in British minds.

Onstage the song becomes monstrous. For 17,000 German kids, David Gahan becomes their personal Jesus."

Sounds about right to me.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

GUEST BLOG NUMBER 8 - NIGGELS UHLENBRUCH





One person I always hope is able to help out on these projects is Niggels Uhlenbruch from Munster. If I want a definitive view on how big Depeche Mode were in Germany at any time in history, Niggels is the man I go to. For this month's project, he's written this incredible blog about the way Depeche were viewed in both East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall and then how their music became the soundtrack to reunification. It is a captivating read and I know that everyone will love this. Thank you Niggels.


Big in Japan, erm, Germany


1990 was a crucial year for Germany: It was the year of the reunion of East and West Germany, and Depeche Mode's Violator was released.

Well, I'm not trying to say that both events were on the same historic level in general terms, of course. And it is very obviously an over-simplification. But if you ask an East-German DM fan (the term “devotee” didn't exist back then, for reasons you should know) there is a good chance that he or she will say that the fall of the wall and the release of Violator and all things around it, in particular the tour, were BOTH life-changing events. And they were more intertwined than you might guess. 

The years 1989 and 1990 were certainly very interesting and exciting times for Germany! On November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and marked the beginning of the end of the cold war. Almost the entire year of 1990 was dominated by a somewhat rushed but peaceful reunification process of the two German states, the Federal Republic of Germany in the west and the German Democratic Republic in the east. This process culminated in the German unity on October 3rd, 1990.

It was the turn of an era not only for Germany but for the entire world, as the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the cold war. Just as much as Violator was the turn of an era for Depeche Mode and their fans in their little depechey world - a world which was not so little anymore! Depeche Mode turned global super stars in the years 1987 to 1990, they broke the US market with Music For The Masses, became an unlikely stadium act with 101, and the immense success of Violator catapulted them even higher to global superstardom. But you all know this already in detail as you surely read every blog article here this month, right? In the decade prior the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Depeche Mode grew from cold war kids to a glitzy superstars worldwide. All of a sudden, seemingly, Depeche Mode were the biggest act around! 

In some places, however, DM had been superstars for a number of years already, and Germany was certainly one of these. Depeche had solid success here in their early years and with People Are People they hit the No. 1 spot in the German singles chart, making them a teenage sensation and a high-grossing live act. People Are People remained their only number one in Germany for a long time (until Dream On in 2001, in fact) but the overall popularity of DM increased from year to year and from album to album. The success of Violator in 1990 might have seemed like a sudden explosion in some other parts of the world but in Germany it was the result of long and kinda unstoppable process. That the band chose to premier Enjoy The Silence months ahead if its release at a rather odd German TV show is quite telling! It was “Peters Pop-Show”, an annual media event with lots of acts lipsyncing to playback, which was recorded at the huge Westfalenhalle in Dortmund November 17th, 1989, and aired on December, 2nd. If you want to get an idea how big DM already were in Germany at that time then just rewatch the performance:



Mind you, this was not a pure DM crowd but a 15,000 capacity venue with people coming to see a variety of artists, from Janet Jackson to Tina Turner and from Bonfire to, oh dear, the inevitable Mr Hasselhoff. Interestingly Erasure and Camouflage were also on the bill, so some synth pop fans certainly ventured to witness the playback charade on location. Smile, you're on TV now!

Attending “Peters Pop-Show” never came to my mind back then, even though I didn't live too far away from Dortmund, but I just had started my own little adventure by reaching out to the east of our country, at first by finding penpals in the still existing GDR. Just weeks ago this would have been near impossible but now it was easy. Just grab a teen magazine like Bravo or Pop Rocky and check the penpal section. Or, as in my case, the New Life Soundmagazine, a mag that did have its name for a reason as it started as a Swiss DM fanzine and evolved into an underground music mag covering all sorts of electronic music and New Wave. So I found a few penpals from East Germany pretty quickly (their hunger for new contacts and new experiences was quite palpable!) and of course all of my penpals were also DM fans! You need something to write about, right? And back then the only things I would write about other than Depeche Mode were Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, and Skinny Puppy.

Grey sky over a black town

In spring 1990 it was about time to see East Germany myself instead of just reading about it. So I followed the invitation of a guy from Dresden, with whom the exchange of letters was particularly dilligent and who also ran a local fan club, to come over and attend with him a Depeche Mode convention in nearby Meißen, on the doorsteps of Dresden. After a long train ride, and the weird experience of the infamously smelly wagons of the East-German Reichsbahn, I arrived in Dresden. And in a completely different world which almost felt like another planet! Dresden is certainly a beautiful city but many houses were just down-and-out and in a pitiful state after decades of neglect and lack of investments. The whole city felt grey to me as there were no neon lights, no outdoor advertising, no colourful shops and bars trying to attract customers. Just the grey reality of a socialist state! I actually liked it.

Depeche Mode live in East Berlin, 17 March 1988 - picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos Facebook Group

My penpal Karsten picked me up at the rain station and soon I met his friends. All of them DM fans, of course! I was used to most people at my age being also fans, unless they weren't metalheads or rather into rivals U2, but in East Germany it was a different scale! You could write entire books about the fandom in the former GDR, and some people did, but suffice to say that being a Depeche Mode fan was a complete youth culture of its own! Like being a Punk or being part of the Goth subculture. A particular eye-opener was when we headed to the train station on Saturday to travel to Meißen. We received the news that the Depeche Mode convention, which was planned as an open air [sic!] event, was cancelled because of the heavy rains. As we were at the train staion already we waited for the local train from Meißen to come for some trains, and when the train opened its doors it cast a mass of black-clad DM fans! I had never seen so many DM fans outside a DM gig, and even at the band's shows I never before saw so many Dave- and Martin-lookalikes like on this Saturday in Dresden! Later we went to a youth club were the DJ (rather a CJ as he played cassettes!) played about 50 % Depeche tunes. I asked Karsten if it was because of the cancelled DM convention and the fact that so many DM fans were at the youth club. Simple answer was “No, it's the usual Saturday night programme here!

The grabbing hands grab all they can

Depeche Mode were really big in West Germany but it was actually no comparison to the massive fandom in the old GDR. East Germany seemed like Depeche Mode wonderland to me, and the DIY culture there was pretty awe-inspiring. Fans over there couldn't simply go to a store to buy records or clothes to dress like their heroes, they had to improvise with the stuff they had at hand and make it all by themselves, from patches and accessoires to shirts and leather jackets. And the music was traded on tapes as you couldn't buy it anywhere, except for the Greatest Hits released on state-owned record label Amiga in 1987.

Depeche Mode Greatest Hits on East German label Amiga

So there was an entire country packed with fans hungry to get their hands on anything DM related, now that the wall and strict censorship no longer kept them from Western sources. There was just one little problem: East and West were still separate nations, with different currencies! And with the “Mark der DDR” of the ruined socialist state you could buy fuck-all elsewhere. The so-called “Währungsunion”, when West Germany's Deutsche Mark was introduced to East-Germany as the official currency, didn't happen before July 1st, 1990 as the first major step towards the reunification. Not too big a problem for your record buying plans, I guess, as you just had to be a little more patient. But a bloody BIG problem if you want to grab the first real chance to see your favourite band live for the first time! Sure, there was the legendary DM gig in East-Berlin in March 1988, but the audience was handpicked from the FDJ youth organisation and officials went great lengths to hide the fact that DM would be playing as long as they could and masked the event as a special birthday celebration of th FDJ. The officials indeed feared riots if it was made public that DM play in East-Berlin, and quite rightly so - there were riots, as the word made its rounds anyway!

So World Violation was the first actual chance for any East-German fan to see the Mode live. The problem was, that the presales started in spring, months ahead of the “Währungsunion”, and as you might guess all dates were sold out in no time! No chance for folks who had only “Mark der DDR” in their wallets... When Depeche's tour finally came to Germany in autumn 1990 the black market simply exploded as many, many fans from East Germany came anyway to see if they have a chance to get a ticket. No matter if it was in Hannover, Frankfurt, Hamburg or Dortmund, you always see sheer masses of East German fans in front of the venue. Some with happy faces as they could get hold of a ticket, some still looking for one. Prices went sky-high, easily five or six times of face value and often even more, and if you dared to hold up a ticket in front of the arena you would find yourself in a knot of people, each and everyone trying to overbid the others. There was a sense of hysteria in the air, and this surely translated to the gigs - as if they weren't hysteric enough already!

So the eleven months of the German reunification, from the Fall of the Wall in November 1989 to the actual reunion in October 1990, were all the more exciting for German fans. Of course for those from the east, in particular. Violator delivered their soundtrack of the German reunion, and it is indeed interesting that the band's releases around Violator marked Germany's turn of an era like landmarks. Personal Jesus was released in August 1989, stayed in the German charts for 27 weeks and was one of the big hits through autumn 1989, when the East German protests against the regime turned into a mass phenomenon. The last single off the album, World In My Eyes, was released on September 17th, 1990, shortly before the German Unity Day on October 3rd. All four singles from the album, which of course include Enjoy The Silence (missing the lead in the charts just by a margin as Sinéad O’Connor's Nothing Compares 2 U refused to leave the No. 1 spot) and Policy Of Truth, were top 10 hits in Germany. David Hasselhoff will probably cry tears of disappointment but Depeche Mode were pretty much the “fall of the wall act” for many Germans rather than the former “Baywatch” star. His performance at the wall was nothing more than a publicity stunt and took place months after the actual fall of the wall - on new year's eve, to be precise. And some people were actually throwing stuff at him! There's a YouTube video as proof:


The Hoff, however, lends himself much more to a running gag than Depeche, so we Germans love to fuel the urban myth that The Hoff brought down the wall all by himself by singing “Looking For Freedom”. Apparently he started to believe the myth himself at some point, so please don't show him this blog! 

Show it to everyone else instead. ;-)

Friday, 27 March 2020

WORLD IN MY EYES - THE REVIEWS


As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, getting interest in the fourth single from an album isn't easy. To prove that, World In My Eyes didn't attract too many reviews. It's shame given the quality of the three songs on the release.

Picture courtesy of Michael Rose

The NME review was predictably, well, hard to grasp first time round. It seems to praise them but can't help but mention Just Can't Get Enough. Some of the language used is a little off colour too, even by the standards of 1990.

Smash Hits 19th September 1990

The review in Smash Hits was a positive one. The guest reviewer that week was MC Tunes, a man very few of you will remember. He was from Manchester so that was almost enough on its own in 1990. That said, I did buy the cassette single of the song he released with 808 State called The Only Rhyme That Bites, but I was young. Anyway, Mr Tunes us highly complimentary called World In My Eyes "a bloody good dance tune" before going on to say that Dave sounds like Pavarotti compared to Shaun Ryder which isn't hard to argue against. Good stuff. 

Picture courtesy of Michael Rose

World In My Eyes didn't get too many more reviews, but when the album reviews came out six months earlier, it was greeted positively. Record Mirror (above) for example called it "the perfection introduction to this compromise between pop music and something a little more sinister."  Melody Maker meanwhile talked about how the song featuring "Andy Fletcher's two fingered keyboard motifs" gave it an "instantly recognisable DM stamp," whereas Sounds said the song "signalled optimism."  Q magazine referred to it as "a relatively straightforward love song" which seems a tad harsh.




People eventually catch up however and Violator now rightly revered as a classic album. Music journalist Ned Ragget has been a long time Depeche fan and his review on the AllMusic blog is a lot more positive, focussing on a review of the many tracks available across the whole single package. I don't disagree with anything he says there. Billboard, in a Violator retrospective, say:

"The album begins with Gahan playing horndog travel agent, inviting a lover to follow him someplace where pleasure reigns supreme and everything else ceases to exist. Helping him seal the deal are two synth hooks (one blippy and industrial, the other urgent and needling), a driving beat, and his own persuasive vocals. Hedonism like this practically sells itself."

Horndog indeed. Classic Pop magazine's retrospective said this:

"Described as one of Depeche Mode’s sexiest songs, World In My Eyes much sums up the mood of the band at the point of recording Violator – all were involved and in perfect unity. It originated from a Gore demo, as most Mode songs do, of course, but its evolution in the studio was a dramatic one. Not only that, but all the band contributed vocals to it – a rare occurrence but perhaps one that signified the unity and friendship that ran through the Depeche Mode camp at the time."

Fair enough. 


And that was that as far as World In My Eyes reviews went. Positive overall at the time, but as with most things Violator related, its reputation has grown with each year. We knew how good it was all along though didn't we?



Thursday, 26 March 2020

ON A TRIP - WORLD IN MY EYES


The lot of the fourth and final single from an album is generally an unhappy one. Everyone's bought the album so everyone has heard the song, so are casual fans really that interested? It's been released because there's a tour still to promote or some remixes to use up. 

Usually anyway. World In My Eyes was one of Depeche Mode's most excting single packages. Two new B-sides! A fancy limited edition!! A video that showed live footage from World Violation!!! Good grief, it's a beauty. Let's use this period of isolation to celebrate this marvel.

Advert in Smash Hits, 17 September 1990

The single was released on 17th September 1990 and, as you can see from the advert above, it promised not only World In My Eyes but also Happiest Girl and Sea Of Sin. New songs! Before we look at them though, it's only fair to talk about the lead single itself.  World In My Eyes is a masterpiece of a song. It opens Violator in explosive style, the missing link between Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk circa Computer World. No Depeche fan can fail to hear the opening riff and get anything other than incredibly excited. 

The song is a band favourite too. It's Fletch's favourite Depeche Mode song and given that he is the world's biggest Depeche Mode fan, who is going to argue with that? In 2017, he told Hotmix Radio:

"For me, (World In My Eyes) really shows how we've managed to have all these different people from different countries all over the world together, liking Depeche Mode."

For once, Alan wasn't grumpy about a song in his Shunt editorials. He called the song "something of a homage to Kraftwerk" and noted that "its success exhibited one of Depeche Mode's most fundamental philosophies."

World In My Eyes is a perennial live favourite too with the band playing it 622 times since the start of World Violation. The most recent version on the Global Spirit Tour was a sensational reworking of it, second only to me to the epic Devotional version. When I first heard the Global Spirit Tour version at Glasgow Barrowlands in March 2017, it blew me away. Not only was I finally seeing Depeche Mode at the best venue on earth, but they were also playing a stunning new version of one of my all time favourite tracks. A unique experience.



Back to the two new songs. The first one that appeared on the 33 1/3 rpm b-side of the 7" was Happiest Girl (Jack Mix). It's a great B-side but very much a track suited to that role than the role of album track.  That's not to say I don't like it - far from it - I just don't think that it would have fitted on Violator. It's yet another song about sex featuring thighs, eyes, lips, hips, skin and...err...deep within, all of which clearly make the focus of the song happy. The bassline is a lovely thing and the middle "And I would have to pinch her" part a joy.

The next new track is Sea Of Sin (Tonal Mix), a real lost gem in the Depeche catalogue. Whereas Happiest Girl is a pervy pop song, Sea Of Sin is a darker track, all moody electronics and lyrics about diving into whatever a sea of sin. Whatever it is, it certainly seems to get better as it gets wetter, although I presume that the person in the sea would get wetter, not the sea itself. Anyway, that ridiculous pedantry aside, it's a bloody great track.

A couple of things to note about these tracks before we head to the video is that, while they are Happiest Girl (Jack Mix) and Sea Of Sin (Tonal Mix), these are in fact the normal what you might call 7" versions of each track. The reason the mix names were added has been lost in the mists of time. The songs were remixed for other formats of course and we'll come to those shortly.

Label on side A of the UK promo 7" BONG20R

As I mentioned in the introduction, the video to World In My Eyes was an incredible thing to see in 1990. The drive-in cinema part of the video was filmed on 26th July 1990 at the Motor Vu Theatre in Tooele, Utah which you can still visit today.  At the time, the drive-in was owned by the parents of Mistie Bradshaw Fowlks who first spoke about this to Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group. Kevin May and I have interviewed her for Halo too and you can read all about her experiences of the filming in the book. Suffice to say, she had a great time, met the band AND got free gig tickets, so not a bad experience at all.  The live footage was taken from the band's two shows at the World Music Theater in Chicago on 2nd and 3rd July 1990. The standard single version of the video is shorter than the version that appears on the video compilation Strange Too. 


The video itself is incredible. It starts with typical Violator era font writing saying "Depeche Mode  World In My Eyes," before we see Dave lying around on a bed. Suddenly, we see Dave and a mystery lady driving into the Drive-In and you see that it's called Strange Too Depeche Mode, albeit in wonky writing. The sun sets and they drive up to to the screen, no doubt to watch a nice film. "What are we seeing tonight Dave? Something romantic?" she no doubt asks. "Sorry no," replies Mr Gahan "It's some snazzy live footage from the World Violation tour." The door must be locked as she doesn't leave.

Then all of a sudden, everything changes. Big DM curtains! A crowd! Dave on stage! Fletch waving! Grainy live footage is everywhere. What is this? Look - there's Martin in some inappropriate shorts! Big screens! Alan! 

Dave then whispers to the woman at the "Let me show you the world in my eyes" line at the end of verse two before we cut back to the screens to see Martin's head on them as the "woo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-oooh" noise kicks in at the end of the verse. Then more live things! Martin nodding about looking ace! Look at those films! There's Alan's head! Is that a sparkler? Why is there a sparkler? It's Alan's head on a screen again! There's a woman in a cowboy hat! There's Martin and a guitar! Fletch's head! Martin in the sunshine on the screen! A big rear view mirror and Dave clapping. WHAT IS GOING ON? THIS LOOKS LIKE THE BEST LIVE SHOW EVER AND I'M ONLY 16 AND HAVE EXAMS AND DON'T KNOW WHERE BIRMINGHAM IS WHY WON'T THEY COME TO SCOTLAND? Are they drums? DRUMS? Dave's dancing in front of Martin and Martin is wiggling his guitar at him. 

The live footage ends. Dave's passenger looks unimpressed. It's no surprise either as all of a sudden the Dave from the bed at the start picks up the car. What? Hang on, there's footage of the band leaving the stage to distract us. Dave is now playing with the car. What?

Anyway, what a bloody video. Here it is just to prove I've not made any of that up:


As ever, the public are morons. World In My Eyes entered the charts at 28, climbed to 21 then reached a chart high of 17 before dropping to 22, 46 and then 66. Ridiculous. Luckily for fans of formats there was a lot to choose from. Firstly, there were promos, starting with the 7" promo BONG20R


The sleeve is the same as the 7" showing Fletch making the World In My Eyes sign (hereafter referred to as "the sign"). The only difference between this and the standard 7" is the label on Side A. The b-side label and rear look like this:


The single features the same three tracks as the standard 7"  - World In My Eyes on the 45 rpm A-side and Happiest Girl (Jack Mix) and Sea Of Sin (Tonal Mix) on the 33 1/3 rpm B-side. There were two promo 12" singles released. P12BONG20 features World In My Eyes (Mayhem Mode) and Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Mix (Instrumental)), the latter a mix exclusive to this release. The promo is being included in the forthcoming Violator 12" Singles box which is a nice touch.

P12BONG20

There second promo 12" too is a lovely thing. It's limited to 500 copies and comes with a sticker on the front featuring Dave doing the sign, telling you which one you have. Mine is number 419 as you can see from the picture at the top of this blog. It features the same three tracks as the standard 12" - World In My Eyes (Oil Tank Mix), Happiest Girl (Kiss-A-Mix) and Sea Of Sin (Sensoria). It's one of my favourite items in my collection:


Finally on the UK promo side, there is a radio CD promo that is both lovely and hard to find. CDBONG20R features the same three tracks as the standard 7" and cassette single:


In other promo news, the German promo 7" is a nice thing:


Anyway, enough promo talk. Here is the standard UK 7" from the front


and from the back:


As you'll see, the A-side label is the only difference from the promo 7". The cassette single is a lovely looking thing, as are all the formats here.


There's Alan having a go at the sign there with a silhouette of Martin on stage that appears on every format. The back of the cassette you say? Here it is:



We then come to the standard 12" and CD singles. The 12" , 12BONG20, features the same tracks as the stickered promo. The Oil Tank Mix of World In My Eyes is an initially minimal sort of take on the track albeit in classic extended 12" remix form. You get to hear all the component parts of the album if that floats your boat, and yes it of course floats mine. It's a superb remix. Do have a listen to it to refresh your memory.


Martin pops up on the cover as you can see. The B-side remixes are ok but not really as good as the standard 7" versions. The Kiss-A-Mix of Happies Girl has a dreadful title, but an interesting breakdown from about 3 minutes 30 in. Sea Of Sin (Sensoria)  goes for a more electronic version of the original but loses the original's sense of darkness. It's fine but a bit of a chance missed.


As you can see above, the rear of the 7" again features the Martin silhouette. CDBONG20 has 4 tracks - the 7" version of World In My Eyes, the Oil Tank Mix of that song and the Kiss-A-Mix of Happiest Girl plus, oddly, Sea Of Sin (Tonal Mix). The three remixes are all shorter than the versions that appear on 12BONG20. This is because the CD single was originally planned as 3" version and, presumably because 3" is smaller than 5", the tracks were edited. The 3" plan was scrapped however but the edits were still used on the 5". The German CD single of the time uses the longer versions.



There's CDBONG20 features Dave to the best of my knowledge. I'll be frank - it's hard to tell and I've been doing this for a month. It could easily be Martin but it could equally be Dave. I don't know anymore. I've been asking friends online and no-one is certain. 26 days in though, I don't want a mistake to blight the blog. If you know for certain who is on the 12" and who is on the CD, then do let me know. I need a holiday. Let's turn to the limited editions.


L12BONG20 is an absolute masterpiece and that's before we get to the music. It is a 12" sealed inside a blue gel pack which you must cut open to access the record. It is sensational. The front has Alan and Andy doing the sign and the quite marvellous explanation of what this is i.e.


What more do you need to know? That is just brilliant. There is also a little white feature at the top showing you who is on the cover (if you're the type of moron who writes a 2000 word blog about it 30 years later, that is ideal)


It's Alan and Andy and they are in Depeche Mode. Clever. The back is equally gorgeous:



That's Martin and Dave - obviously. Neither picture helps in the "who is on the 12" and CD" thing but, dear reader, we are well beyond that by now. There is a sticker on the outside of the package confirming this is L12BONG20


That is a lovely thing in itself. The real treat though is above the small pictures of Dave and Martin that adorn the rear of the gel sleeve. Just look at this:


To open the package, you must cut it open. It tells you to "Violate Here." That is stone cold genius of the highest possible order. It's the small things, indeed the smallest thing, that makes this release worthwhile. I absolutely love it.

Obviously, as we have long since learned, I am an arse and I cut mine on the wrong place entirely but what are you going to do? I have two other sealed versions to keep me happy. I am like that.

Once you open it, it gets even lovelier:


Just. Look. At. That. 

Live shots, a luxury inner sleeve all glossy and gorgeous, a beautiful cover and a record that is stark and mesmerising in its sheer gloriousness. Wow. The other side of all three things is just as magnificent:


Sigh. They don't make them like that any more. As if it matters, there is music on there too and magical music it is as well. Side A features World In My Eyes (Dub In My Eyes) a Francois Kervorkian remix (like all remixes on the 12" and CD singles) that features the robot voices that were used so superbly on the Devotional version. A mix that demands to be played very loud indeed. The B-side features the rather nice Mode To Joy mix of World In My Eyes by Jon Marsh of The Beloved and it's accompanied by The Pulsating Orbital Mix of Happiest Girl by The Orb. I recently read an interview with them where they said their remixes were just old tracks of theirs that they handed to record companies. There is a lot of The Orb on this mix but plenty of Depeche Mode too. 


LCDBONG20 is equally beautiful. It features the live shots we see in the inner sleeve of L12BONG20 but in a different order which is nice. The back of it looks like this:


There are six tracks here, four of which we already know - the Dub In My Eyes and Mode To Joy mixes of World In My Eyes, Happiest Girl (Jack Mix) and Sea Of Sin (Sensoria). The Mayhem Mode mix of World In My Eyes is another Jon Marsh remix, more upbeat than Mode To Joy and adds a few housey pianos for good measure. The 6th track is Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Vocal Mix)  a longer and a bit more vocally version of the Pulsating Orbital Mix.

If you can get either limited edition, get them. They're great.


As I mentioned way back at the start, the version of World In My Eyes used on the Global Spirit Tour was incredible. As the tour developed, the visuals did too and we ended up with the sight above which is my picture from the Paris gig in December 2017. On the right, we see Dave taken from the sticker on the limited edition promo from 1990 and on the left, Dave from 2017.

It's the attention to detail that makes it glorious. That attention to detail runs all the way from 1990 to the present day with World In My Eyes. What a trip.