Wednesday 23 August 2023



I have a feeling you may have heard a lot of this before...

I love Depeche Mode as I think everyone can accept. They're bloody marvellous, Martin Gore is an actual genius and they have released some of the most moving, awe inspiring and downright gorgeous music that has ever been committed to vinyl. Some of their albums are among the best I have ever heard, some of their singles are so good it's almost obscene, even a lot (ok, about 50%) of the videos are actual works of art. I love Depeche Mode. You can accept that.

The fantastic 12" Boxset series has been a joy. It rightly celebrates Depeche Mode's pioneering role in 12" remixing and you won't find a bad remix on any of the boxsets up to the Songs Of Faith And Devotion one where that daft remix of Higher Love reminds you that, unless they chose wisely, Depeche were best when they remixed themselves.

Even the post SOFAD boxes contain some gems despite various attempts to sully the good name of Depeche Mode. I'm very much looking at you DJ Muggs. Crucially though, they had good source material to work with, even if the end results were patchy.

And so, accepting that I can no longer put off the inevitable, we reach Sounds Of The Universe, the ugly child of the Depeche Mode family, an album with a face only a mother could love. Here we go then....

There were three singles released from the album. The majestic Wrong was the first and that was lovely. Peace, as pointless as song as the band have ever recorded, followed that and then Hole To Feed and Fragile Tension appeared as a double A side. Only three 12" singles were released between those three - Wrong had one and Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension came out as a double 12". In this box, we have an additional four records as we will see. I've listened to them all and you all therefore owe me.

I won't review each remix here as I simply don't want to. Handily, I reviewed every Depeche Mode single in 2021 and you can find each of the Sounds Of The Universe singles right here:

Wronger...sorry...Peace -

Like every boxset before it, this is a lovely thing to look at. An awful lot of thought has gone into its production and the labels and sleeves are really very nice. My box had a slight sleeve issue with some spine damage to the Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension double 12" sleeve but other than that, all is well with the physical side of things.

First out of the box is 12BONG40, a reproduction of the original Wrong 12".

It's an exact replica of the original.

The same four remixes appear on it as on the original 12BONG40.

They also put each purchaser's initials on the B-Side label which is nice. As you can see, mine has a D and an M on it. Check your own copy for your initials.

The first new thing in the box is L12BONG40. Among the original formats in 2009 were two CDs, the second saying Wrong remixes on the cover art. That doesn't appear here as not all the tracks on here are remixes of Wrong.

On the beautifully labelled side A, we have:

Wrong - Magda's Scallop Funk Mix
Wrong - D.I.M. v Boys Noize Remix

There's the back sleeve.

On the record itself (look there are my initials again lolz etc):

Wrong - Trentemoller Club Remix Dub
Oh Well - Black Light Odyssey Remix

The latter of the two is what I believe the kids call "a banger" which is young person speak for a very good remix indeed.

And that was all there as from Sounds Of The U....oh wait.

For a single that should never have been a single in the first place, three formats were originally released. Thanks to this boxset, that number has shot up by 40%.

12BONG41 contains five, yes 5, remixes. On Side A we are blessed with:

Peace - Single version
Peace - SixToes Remix
Come Back - Jonsi Remix

The latter two are fine actually at least in the context of what is to come.

The rear sleeve above reveals the full horror of the B-Side

It contains:

Peace - Ben Klock Remix
Peace - Japanese Popstars Remix

Both are terrible. The label is lovely though. This boxset really is a feast for the eyes instead of the ears though I will say that it sounds great. Sonically I mean. 

L12BONG41 is next. 

This record, while lovely to look at, would test the patience of any Depeche Mode fan, even those guys you see with actual pictures of the band members tattooed on their back. You know who I mean. Side A has only two tracks:

Peace - Sid LeRock Remix
Peace - Justus Kohncke Extended Disco Club Vocal Remix

Honestly. That second remix title can just fuck off. 

The rear sleeve, like the front, is really nice. I genuinely do love the attention that goes into these new 12" singles, even if their existence does annoy some collectors. 

The existence of these records doesn't annoy me despite my collector problem. It's the music that pisses me off. This is Depeche Mode for God's sake, not Coldplay. They shouldn't just bang out any old tat like Chris Martin's comedy troupe, yet on Side B, we get these:

Peace - The Exploding Plastic Inevitable JK Disco Dub
Peace - Pan/Tone Remix


As you will have seen from my single review, Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension came out as a double 12" in 2009. 

This release, 12BONG42, is identical in every way to the original.

I genuinely don't like one remix on it. People seem to like the song Perfect which I will never understand. It features here twice on side C if that's your thing.

The final 12" in the box is another new one - L12BONG42. The idea behind it is great. It gathers together a few radio versions and remixes that appeared on promos of the era, producing an eight track 12".

There they all are.

Side A contains:

Fragile Tension - Radio Mix. I GENUINELY like this song. Shut up.
Hole To Feed - Radio Mix. I can't say the same for this one. 
Come Back - SixToes Remix Another good track.
Fragile Tension - Laidback Luke Remix. Poor

Side B is full of pish as we say in Scotland:

Fragile Tension - Peter, Bjorn and John Remix.  Remember them? That whistling song? No? No wonder
Hole To Feed - Joebot Remix  No, just no.
Perfect - Ralphi & Craig Club Remix Yuck
Fragile Tension - Solo Loves Panoram Remix Yuck again

As ever, the rear of the box has a picture showing you exactly what to avoid when you open it.

There's a cool reprint Wrong promo poster. 

"What was MySpace grandpa?"

And if you want to annoy your enemies, the download card contains a code that will let you install every Peace remix on their digital device of your choosing.

I realise that I have perhaps been a bit harsh here because there is much to admire about this box. It continues the great work that we have seen in this series and the effort that has gone into the artwork and audio can only be admired. One great thing about the Sounds Of The Universe campaign was the return of coloured vinyl with the Wrong and Peace 7" singles. It's a pity they didn't turn up here somehow but the difficulty in vinyl production generally probably put paid to that.

If you are a collector, and I am one of those, you will want this as having gaps in your collection is really not the done thing. Like the album these singles came from however, once you buy it, you are not likely to play it again, the Wrong singles aside.


  1. Remixes in later era.
    That's why I ended up buying every DM record - I am (was?) a collector too.
    But if I need to buy these for the beauty of the covers and nothing more, then I'll buy records from other bands - that is what I do. Cheers.

  2. Thanks for the review and for listening to all of the remixed so I don't have to.

    Buying this box set was a real test of my loyalty (and/or madness). I suspect it may stay in the cellophane.