How would Depeche Mode follow two incredibly poppy singles? Could they go even poppier than The Meaning Of Love? Britain's premier synthpop band would surely only repeat the pop trick wouldn't they?
No, no they wouldn't. Welcome to the new, darker Depeche Mode. Welcome to the Depeche Mode you know and love. They were back, quite literally, with a BONG.
Welcome to Leave In Silence.
SET THE WHEELS IN MOTION - LEAVE IN SILENCE
Leave In Silence was the third single Depeche Mode had released from the still unheard A Broken Frame. That's quite a bold move really as, in the absence a fourth single, the album and subsequent fairly brief tour would be all that there was to promote A Broken Frame. There were of course cameras present at the Hammersmith Oden gig on 25th October 1982 with Mute recording the gig with a view to a future video release but that didn't come to pass. You get the impression that the band were keen to move on from A Broken Frame and Leave In Silence acts as a perfect signpost to what lay ahead.
The single was released on 16th August 1982, crawling into the charts at number 55 on the 28th of that month. It then, erm, leapt to 33 before this performance on Top Of The Pops on 2nd September 1982 saw it fly up the charts to 21.
Oddly, the single then dropped to 23 before developing new life (ho ho) and climbing back up to number 18 but that was as high as it got. The week after it fell to 19, then 22, 25, 50 and finally heading for the door at number 70 before the charts decided they didn't want to play any more.
This was a very disappointing performance for what was a very brave choice of single. The public was perhaps unprepared for these fresh faced pop chaps suddenly sounding all mournful and sad. The reviews of the single were mixed. Paul Weller was particularly scathing in Melody Maker claiming that he had "heard more melody coming out of Kenny Wheeler's arsehole." Charming - but I suppose That's Entertainment.
With typical contrariness, Karen Swayne said elsewhere in Melody Maker that there was "more obvious emotion" than in the band's previous singles, adding "It shows the way their sound is maturing." Daniela Soave said the single was "A tower of glory!" adding that the song "pound(ed) with atmosphere."
One important point to note about Leave In Silence was its catalogue number - BONG1. Depeche Mode had been granted their own catalogue numbering by Mute, further evidence that the label were very much behind the band. The song itself is glorious. Leave In Silence is a wonderful track that displays a depth and power that hadn't been present in Depeche Mode's sound before. The then very small back catalogue had its moody moments of course (Ice Machine, Photographic, Oberkorn) but this was something new altogether. From the "what the hell is going on...wait this is BRILLIANT" opening "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" to the freeform synth wig out at the end via that superb and textbook Depeche bassline, Leave In Silence is simply a superb Depeche Mode track.
It was a live favourite for many years too. The song was played live on the A Broken Frame tour but then completely dropped for Construction Time Again's tour. It rightly returned on the next two tours before disappearing like everything else from the first two albums, Just Can't Get Enough aside, when the Music For The Masses tour kicked off. A Broken Frame was named as the band's least favourite album by the band themselves in their regular brief Bong Magazine interviews so what hope did we ever have of hearing Leave In Silence again? Well, if you were in the crowd at Bercy in Paris on 23rd February 2006, you will have received a rather big surprise - Martin brought the sing back for his solo set, backed on piano only by Peter Gordeno. The song appeared a further 25 times on the tour, each appearance greeted rapturously. It's the sport of surprise you wish the band would wheel out more. Leave In Silence its 232nd and final live appearance on the Delta Machine tour with a single outing at the O2 Arena in London on 19th November 2013. Bring it back boys - this time with a full band.
The B-side to Leave In Silence is an oddly named, very odd instrumental. Excerpt From : My Secret Garden is not in fact an excerpt from that song but is instead a rather odd and fast instrumental version of it. To be honest, it's actually a fast and, if you want, faster version of the song as the B-side of the 7" can be played at either 33rpm or 45rpm. If you know why that is, do write in. You will be unsurprised to learn that it has never been played live.
At 33rpm or at 45rpm.
Alan has described the Julian Temple directed Leave In Silence video and the videos he also directed for See You and The Meaning Of Love as "a collective disaster" and it's hard not to agree with the man who would one day leave Depeche Mode much to every fans' relief.
It starts off with a shot of what would be the A Broken Frame album cover which is quite cool, but then quickly descends into something fairly terrible. Just as you're wondering "Why are those chaps pouring all that grain away?" Dave suddenly appears and he's hitting a lot of household items on a conveyor belt with a wooden spoon. The camera pans out to reveal all three bandmembers and Arthur Wolder or something all doing something similar other than Martin who has two drumsticks because he's the boss. Perhaps the band got the inspiration for Construction Time Again's bashing and sampling from this very video? They obviously didn't - I'm trying to make the best of a very bad thing here. Pipeline would certainly have sounded different if it had been comprised of the sound of Fletch hitting a lemon with a hammer and so on.
At this stage, it seems to be loosely based on the cult (i.e. dreadful but people prefer to bathe in nostalgia than face reality) UK gameshow of the time called The Generation Game. It would take half of the internet to explain what that was without sounding like I was making it up so I won't bother. All I will tell you is that one round featured a conveyor belt with things on it that, if you memorised them, you got to win the. You didn't hit them with spoons.
The conveyor belt bit ends as the chorus begins and suddenly our heroes are all dressed in white and have been painted different colours. Dave is blue, Alan green, Martin red and Fletch a fairly pale yellow. They're all holding matching coloured balls (stop laughing at the back) and each take it in turns to sing lines from the song. It's really not very good at all but, as I am legally obliged to mention at this stage, it is of course better than the Hole To Feed video. On the line "I can't stand this emotional violence" Dave throws his ball to the ground and quite literally leaves. In silence. Except he's singing. So, really, he just walks off but the song isn't called "Bounce Your Ball And Walk Away Making Some Noise Inevitably But At Least Try To Do It Quietly" so I'll stop labouring this point here.
From here on it gets daft. After Dave leaves, the other three play with their balls (I TOLD you to to stop laughing at the back) before Fletch kicks his and breaks a window only for the ball to bounce back off it. The damage he has done is more than he could have imagined however as through the broken window pain we see Depeche Mode bouncing about on Spacehoppers. For Christ's sake, I know it was 1982 and Spacehoppers were popular but this is really very bad indeed. Duran Duran, a band whose entire musical output can be summed up as "really very bad indeed" (don't @ me as the kids say) were at least tooling about on yachts in their videos. Spacehoppers? Good lord.
Anyway, for the rest of the video, it goes conveyor belt, bouncy balls, coloured DM men and so on until we reach the final low on 3 minutes 29 seconds, when the band all pretend they're angry and start waving their fists etc. Why? I don't know. I don't imagine anyone did then and I certainly don't imagine they do now.
There were only two UK formats when the song was released. Firstly, we have the 7" (7BONG1) which you can see above. The dark sleeve matches the song's mood beautifully and the label gives a nice nod to what was to come with A Broken Frame.
The back of the sleeve (above) is really nice too, a vast improvement on the cartoon like design of the last two 7" singles. The B-side label reveals that the B-side can be played at two speeds. Remarkably, there are 11 different variations of the 7" which you can stun your friends and loved ones with should you collect the set.
The 12" (12BONG1) is a glorious thing with a simple but eye catching cover. The first pressings came in a textured sleeve such as the one above, a sleeve that was faithfully and wonderfully recreated for the 12" Singles boxset for the album. This record features three tracks. The A-side is Leave In Silence (Longer), a mix that is not only true to its word but one that is one of those quite brilliant early Depeche Mode 12" remixes that you can't help but love. It's 6 and a half minutes of sheer joy.
On the B-Side, we find two tracks, Firstly, having had a listen to the Excerpts on the 7" we get Further Excerpts From : My Secret Garden which is really just a different version of the same thing albeit only at 45 rpm. There's an additional remix of Leave In Silence (Quieter) which is an ironically named cover of the song by British Grindcore band Napalm Death. Actually, it's not - it's a really rather nice version of the song with all the noisy bits removed and an echoey vocal from Dave. I genuinely like it.
The UK CD single reissue from 1991 (CDBONG1 - above) took all five tracks and put them on one handy digital disc.
As ever, there were some nice German releases. Firstly, the red vinyl 7" single:
That features the same tracks as the UK 7"
The coloured vinyl continued with this lovely clear vinyl version of the 12" which you can currently get on Discogs for £82
Like the 7", it featured the same tracks as the UK 12"
The by now standard Intercord blue stripe CD single features four tracks but calls them odd things. They are Leave In Silence (Longer) (ok that's fine), My Secret Garden (Excerpts) (hmmmm), Leave In Silence (Quieter) (Excerpts) (what?) and Leave In Silence (7" Version). None of these are new tracks or anything - they're just mistakes.
The French made similar errors on their CD too, giving the tracks the same names as we saw above:
The single was also released in Belgium, Sweden, Australia, South Africa and various other territories around the world.
With Leave In Silence, Depeche Mode moved on to phase two of the band. The said goodbye to the world of pure pop and hello to the darker side of life. Ok, it wasn't a successful single but it was an important one. We first met the darker Depeche Mode and the BONG catalogue number. Things were going to be different from now on but, before we went to Berlin and started hitting bits of fence, we first had to formally introduce a new band member. That was done via the band's next single, a stand alone effort that had a surprising influence on house music and the band's first limited edition single.
It also had a bad video but that was predictable.
This single is also the start of the "symbol art" and political covers from the designer Martyn AtkinsReplyDelete
One of their best single !! I never noticed that we could listen to the b-side with 2 different speeds, thanks !!! I'm a huge fan of Longer and Quieter toi ...ReplyDelete
And I love Duran Duran ...