As Depeche Mode embarked upon their first full UK arena tour, a new single appeared. Like Somebody, this song featured Martin on vocals and, as we'll see, Dave was once again relegated to a Bez like role in the video.
A Question Of Lust would see the band fail to make an impact on the charts, release a single on a new format (Depeche Mode) and give us all the chance to almost see Martin naked.
What more could you want eh? Oh yes - Alan kissing someone on the cover of the single. Is it Alan though? Would anyone care? This is Depeche Mode - of course people cared. All this and more, though not in the Martin sense, will be revealed below.
ALL OF THESE THINGS AND MORE - A QUESTION OF LUST
With unrestrained enthusiasm, the top of the third page of the April 1986 Depeche Mode Information Service newsletter said NEW RELEASE. It went on to list the tracks that would appear on the new single A Question Of Lust which was due to come out on 14th April. As with Stripped, BONG11 would appear on 7" and 12" and, repeating the Stripped trick, the 12" would be a 5 track affair though the running time was sadly omitted from the announcement.
Reviews of the single were relatively positive. Smash Hits said:
"With a "provocative" word in the title and a couple snogging on the cover, one would expect this record to be at least slightly "steamesque" and pervy. But no. They don't take any of their clothes off at all! Once the black electro clanks of the intro have settled down, we are presented with a floating, melancholic tune and a wheezing, breathy voice that's singing about "love" not "lust" (a word employed solely to rhyme with "trust" and "dust"). Moody and pretty but entirely saucefree. What a swindle!"
"On first hearing, this sounds like it should never have been released as a single, but a few plays later and the first fully fledged DM ballad really begins to have an effect. It's a s-l-o-w, hauting track, mournful without being depressing and more proof of their increasing maturity. A nice twist to all the usual love songs, too. 4 stars"
David Quantick at Melody Maker got it all so very wrong though, even down to the identity of the singer:
"Like unwilling bedfellows thrown together by sheer happenstance, Depeche Mode and yours truly meet for the third time on the singles page. Each successive release convinces me afresh that the only factor impeding this groups' ascent to ultrastardom is the unrelenting glumness of singer Dave Gahan. A less oafish reviewer would recognise his juiceless tones for the affirmation of his sensitivity they obviously are; I hear a pretty good song, which incorporates the swelling grandiosity of Godley and Creme's "Cry", rendered stultifying by Gahan's pallid murmer."
Sounds seemed to suggest Depeche Mode's best days had passed:
"After a series of, shall we say, disappointing singles, the Deps have wheeled out a more moody, atmospheric track than many of late. While their golden period seems to have vanished in the haze, this shows that at least their emotion hasn't deserted them too. Walks along the towpath of your auditory canal rather nicely, yet sadly never releases the floodgates."
The Deps indeed.
Despite the fact the band were actually in Britain when the single was released, they didn't appear on Top Of The Pops perhaps due to the song entering at a lowly number 29. The next week it sprang up the charts to 28 from where it fell to 30, 41 and then 71 before the charts make the stupid mistake of letting it go (if you know what I mean). This was their lowest chart placing since Dreaming Of Me.
We have no Top Of The Pops to laugh at so instead, let's zip forward to the 23rd of July and this birthday cake fuelled performance on Japanese TV show Yoru No Hit Studio Deluxe.
There's a lot to take in here. The band's introduction at one minute or so in is sensational. A group of Japanese women applaud them as they descend the stairs to an incredibly jaunty studio band version of A Question Of Lust. I wish, no I demand, that this version is used on the next tour. Once they finally appear, Martin, who is naturally wearing some sort of bondage thing and a pair of handcuffs, is presented with a bouquet of flowers what with it being his birthday. Sartorially, the rest are dressed as you'd expect with Alan having a fairly low leather percentage of around 46%.
At two minutes in, a birthday cake is wheeled out and a visibly embarrassed and perhaps slightly refreshed Martin looks on. Fletch finds the whole thing hilarious and rightly so knocking Martin's hat over his head at one point and then lifting him up at the end as Alan kisses our birthday boy. Inexplicably, Martin takes a few steps back and then runs at the cake to blow the candles out. He's only wee so that fails. Dave, being the responsible lead singer, takes control and quietly deals with the remaining candles. By this stage, no-one seems to know what is going on. It's not the See You chicken episode by any means, but it's very odd.
There's then an interview which seems to amuse Fletch greatly. The song finally begins with Dave on drums and Martin sings, dancing as if he really, really, needs to go for a pee. Alan batters away on a set of metal pipes from time to time and Fletch plays his keyboards enthusiastically.
It's a unique Depeche Mode moment and one well worth watching. Thanks to Moto for the upload. Do check out his other Depeche videos too by the way.
A Question Of Lust may not have lit up the charts, but it's become a live favourite. It's been performed 402 time initially featuring on every date of both the Black Celebration and Music For The Masses tours. It returned in 1993 and 1994 before appearing in varying degrees on all subsequent tours with the exception of the Exciter tour. The 101 version remains a favourite of mine just in case that sort of information is of any use to you.
The B-Side is yet another Martin and Alan co-write. Christmas Island is a remixed version of the Slade classic Merry Christmas Everybody with Fletch on vocals and Dave on lead guitar. Alternatively, and actually, it is a quite marvellous booming instrumental full of the sort of satisfying noises Depeche Mode specialised in around that time. This was the song that was the Pimpf of the Black Celebration tour and the tape was started with that 74 times. It's not featured live since, not even at gigs around Christmas time when its festive....oh wait. Never mind.
In an era where videos were becoming almost as important as anything else when it came to selling singles, you needed to make an impression. Oafish bands like Duran Duran would spend ridiculous sums on videos like Wild Boys for example, though that was no doubt more to distract you from the sheer horror of the music. With A Question Of Lust, Depeche Mode chose to make an impression by showing a drunk, naked Martin standing on a table while his bandmates attempt to once again get him to put his clothes on. Only the head of security man Andre, some well placed postcards and a bouncing Fletch stop us from seeing Little Martin. Thank you Andre and co. Martin then leaps onto Fletch's back and everyone tries to move on from there.
The pissed up nude message is perhaps inspired by the "I need to drink more than you seem to think" line in the song but as the next line doesn't say "Before I get my kit off again in a club, yes I know I said I wouldn't do that again, this IS the last time honestly" that's unlikely. I wonder how many times a naked Martin jumped onto Fletch's back on the Black Celebration tour? As there were 76 dates, I reckon at least 77 times, if you include the post rehearsal piss up that inevitably happened.
From there, the vocals kick in and we see a contrite Martin pretending none of the night before happened. Dave Bez Gahan then appears, slapping away on a tambourine as Martin croons in the background and then all of a sudden....
We are on-stage! The glorious Black Celebration tour set appears as Martin sings the chorus and Alan bangs away on that odd metal sun thing quite marvellously. Martin is very conservatively dressed which is oddly disappointing. The camera reveals a crowd and so, we have an actual filmed in front of a live audience video on the go. It was filmed at the band's April 2nd gig at the RDS in Dublin and the outdoor shots of Dave "Tambourine" Gahan were filmed the following day south of Dublin.
We get a few tantalising glimpses of actual tour footage and then we're outside again for the next verse with Dave and Martin now joined by Alan (76% leather, hair medium to high) playing some metal xylophone thing with hammers naturally. He is then seen hitting a drum before we return to the RDS and the live set up.
It continues to veer between outdoor and indoor shots from there really. We see Dave with a drum, Alan playing some bottles and Fletch playing a xylophone in the most aggressive way anyone has ever approached that instrument.
Just when you think it's done, the Basildon Boyzone reappear, this time joined by Dave. All four members stand in a line ringing bells and it's really very, very odd. It does eventually end, on a shot of Dave in front of a rapturous Dublin crowd.
It's not the band's best video but by far from the worst. The tour footage is what saves it here.
7BONG11 features the two tracks we mentioned earlier. The sleeve photo shows a couple kissing and one German fan was enraged, contacting German magazine Bravo to ask why this woman had been allowed to kiss Alan. Happily for her, the magazine did some pre-internet detective work and found it that it was a bloke called Gary who was embracing the woman (called Nikki incidentally). Whether Gary had a high hairdo and wore nothing but leather clothes from 1984-1988 was not confirmed.
The rear sleeve shows the band on the stairs at Hansa Studios. I've been there and recreated that and most, if not all, of you who are reading this and have been to Hansa have done the same. Quite right too. The labels of the 7" are lovely with their big fat lettering and the logo appearing on the front and on the A on the A-Side label is one of the Black Celebration cover logos. The one with the arrow pointing to the explosion. I have no idea how that relates to lust or indeed questions about lust.
As I mentioned earlier, 12BONG11 is a 5 track affair. Side A (above) features the single version of A Question Of Lust and Christmas Island (Extended). As you might expect it's a longer, remixed version of the B-Side and very enjoyable it is too.
The B-Side artwork shows Nikki pulling away from Gary's embrace having just learned that he is only in fact an Alan Wilder impersonator. She had noticed that his socks weren't leather and quickly worked it out. There are three tracks on the B-Side. Firstly, a live version of People Are People from 30th November 1984 in Basle which is rather nice and that's followed by another Depecheoke special, an instrumental of It Doesn't Matter Two. I don't know how many times I've sung along with that. Finally, we have the Minimal mix of A Question Of Lust by Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones.
This advert appeared - what on earth was going on? All of a sudden, Depeche Mode had released a new format - the cassette single. Cassette singles weren't new of course. They'd been around for a while but at that point in time, they were fairly rare. The idea with a cassette single was that you could slip it in your pocket to pop into your Walkman. Never afraid to take on logic, Depeche released theirs in a packet slightly larger than a 7" single and stuck a booklet and a badge in too.
It's a really nice package. The front of CBONG11 features a checklist that confirms your cassette, booklet and badge are contained inside and it lists the tracks you're about to listen to. It also confirms that this is a limited edition. Side A features the wonderful Flood Mix of A Question Of Lust and Christmas Island. It should have been called Minimal Mix. Apparently Mute forgot to send him all the multi-track tapes so half of the single's sounds are missed off as he didn't have access to them in the first place. The "Full Colour 5 Page Booklet" features photos of our heroes relaxing and Martin is of course naked from the waist up. The badge is a nice touch too, a question mark with the word Lust imposed over it. Finally, the lyrics to all five songs on the cassette (well four really - Christmas Island and all that) also feature.
Yes, I have an opened one and a sealed one. What else did you expect? The pack is sealed with magical dM sticker which I ruined first time round when I was just a normal fan and not the oddball I now am collecting a stack of things I never play. The rear of the booklet is displayed above, The 3 tracks on the B-Side were all recorded live in Basle on 30th November 1984 - Shame, If You Want and Blasphemous Rumours. They are all ace.
Brilliantly, the Black Celebration 12" Singles box turned this cassette single into a 12". It is a magical thing and I wrote about it and photographed it here - click.
The single was given a digital overhaul in 1991 of course. It only features the 7" and 12" tracks.
Did the Germans give us any coloured vinyl? Of course they did. First up, we have the red 7"
You know how it goes - same tracks as 7BONG11
The coloured vinyl version of 12BONG11 is another marbled vinyl.
The same tracks as feature on 12BONG11 populate its marbled goodness.
There was no cassette single in Germany but who needs a cassette single when you can have this outrageous yellow vinyl version? It is an absolute stunner. As the checklist on the front confirms, and as you can see yourself, it includes a booklet. They clearly didn't feel the need to indicate that it also included the record. There is no badge however.
It features the same five tracks as CBONG11 with the A-Sides on the A-Side and the B-Sides right where you'd expect them. It's fairly hard to get hold of now and it'll set you back at least £120 on Discogs,
The blue stripe CD features the 12BONG11 tracks.
The French CD single was highly sought after for many years as, until 2004, it was the only place you could get your hands on a digital version of the Flood Mix. Even today it is still pricey - there is one currently on Discogs for £74 or so.
A Japanese 7" is available in standard and promo form, The standard one is pictured. It has a shiny inseet which shows the 7BONG11 front and back pictures on one side.
The other side features the lyrics and a picture of the birthday boy and his bandmates.
The single was only released on 7" in the US, though this promo 12" featuring an edited version of a Robert Margouleff remix appeared. A Question Of Lust then featured as half of a 12" when A Question Of Time was released in the US.
This is the rear of that 12". The only track it features from this single release is the Minimal mix of A Question Of Lust, wrongly named Extended Version here.
A Question Of Lust is an odd one really. It's a superb song but failed as a single. It had a nice new format and excellent tracks across all releases and has ultimately proved very collectible. It's turned into a much loved live song and it's one of my, many people's, favourite Martin sung songs.
This video was something of a landmark though. No, not because we nearly saw Martin's tadger, but because it was the last time for a long time that the band used anyone other than one director.
Enter Anton Corbijn. Next time, we'll have a look at A Question Of Time, the point that Depeche Mode suddenly gained visual credibility.
The usual videos section is about to get a lot shorter.