Tuesday, 13 April 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 24: ENJOY THE SILENCE

 


"Oh God, I've been dreading this one."
"I know. He's just going to bang on about Enjoy The Silence being the greatest song ever, a life changing event etc etc. We've heard it all before."
"Far too many times."

They're not wrong. Here's all you ever wanted, in fact, all you never needed to know about Enjoy The Silence.

ALL I EVER WANTED - ENJOY THE SILENCE


BONG8 excitedly announced the release of the greatest song in the history of recorded music (my words), telling readers that the new 12" single Enjoy The Silence from the forthcoming album Violator (never heard of it) would be released on 12th February 1990. A 7" was scheduled "to follow." The official release date was in fact 5th February 1990. and the single went down very well indeed, at least with the record buying public in the usually tone deaf to Depeche Mode UK.


Let's start with the NME. It awarded Enjoy The Silence Single Of The Week. The reviewer was joined by Steve Waddington and Jon Marsh of the temporarily and somewhat remarkably successful band The Beloved. Marsh, who would soon go on to remix World In My Eyes, saying that he thought it was Depeche Mode's "(b)est for a very long time." The NME reviewer called it a "brooding, tender piece" though wrongly mentioned it was the "first cut from their forthcoming album" which is rather unfair to Personal Jesus.


That's just a load of nonsense really though I suppose it does concede that the song is "utterly pleasant" which is something. I'm not sure what magazine it's from.


Simon Reynolds at Melody Maker said the song felt "very dated." Hmm.  Music Week's 3rd February edition praised the single. It said"

"The best Depeche Mode single in years heralds a return to the classic pop approach of their early Eighties hits like Everything Counts in contrast to the electro beat of recent recordings. The song itself is heavily to the fore here and strong enough perhaps to furnish the band with their first number one hit."

Sadly not. In America,  reviews were generally more positive. Billboard reviewed the single on 10th March, saying:

"Previewing the upcoming Violator album is a more radio-viable effort than the group's hard-won hit Personal Jesus. Track blends quintets recognisable techno-pop melodies with trendy house grooves"

Will we ever know who the fifth member of Depeche Mode was?  In his Dance Trax feature in Billboard's 17th March edition, Bill Coleman said "Technomeister Depeche Mode also brings that beat back with Enjoy The Silence...(t)he 12" continues to mark the band's venture to a more raw sound. The 'bass line' version is rather tasty." Tasty Technomesiters indeed.

1990 UK promotional postcard

The single was a solid gold HIT in Britain. It entered the charts at number 17 and roared to number 6 the following week. The band didn't appear on Top Of The Pops themselves, leaving the promo work to the incredible video. The single stayed at number 6 for the next two weeks but, because it was a non-mover, they didn't get any further airtime on the country's premier pop show and sadly got no higher. I'm sure that an appearance on the show would have seen the song climb the Top Ten even further and perhaps even hit number 1. From 6 however, it fell to 12, 20, 32, 52 and finally 62. Oh what could have been.

As we don't have a Top Of The Pops performance to enjoy, here is the band's November 1989 appearance on the German show Peter's Pop Show where they introduced Enjoy The Silence to the world. Interestingly (really?), they use the video mix with that stunning introduction. Sigh.


I've said it before, I'll say it again and eventually you will all stop listening, but Depeche Mode look and sound incredible at this point in their career. I'm not even going to try and hilariously pick apart that performance as every single bit of it is wonderful. Kudos to Alan for keeping the leatherometer ticking over.

The band promoted the sing in France too albeit with a performance filmed in America. On 24th March 1990 the band filmed this performance on the rooftop observation deck on Two World Trade Center for French show Champs Elysees:



As for the single itself, well in my well worn opinion, Enjoy The Silence is both Depeche Mode's finest single and indeed the finest single ever released. We all have that one song that we come back to, time and time again. I first heard Enjoy The Silence in my Mum's car on the radio and it instantly grabbed me. Phrases like "life changing" are spectacularly over the top when talking about music unless it's music that has cured a disease or something, but Enjoy The Silence had a massive impact on me, steering me in the direction of Depeche Mode and ultimately leading to me typing this sentence right now. Discovering Depeche Mode has led to me doing so many different things and meeting so many wonderful people and it's arguable that none of that would have happened without Enjoy The Silence. From the second I heard it I knew it and the band singing it were the song and band for me. 31 years later, I still feel the same and, as well as being a testimony to the majesty of this song, it's also a testimony to the power of music. 

It wasn't just me who liked Enjoy The Silence however - the band quite like it too. To date it has been performed at every main gig since World Violation with the exception of the Ultra parties. I say main gig to mean gigs on tours rather than promo gigs. In total, Depeche Mode have played Enjoy The Silence 872 times and Dave has sung the full choruses on 4 of those occasions. It is always a highlight of a show for me but I do wish Anton would drop the frankly horrific films he insists on using for the song. 

Dave has also played the song live with his band on the Paper Monsters tour but we've thankfully got no need to worry about that version here. Yikes.

The B-side to the single is haunting instrumental called Memphisto. It has never been played live and that is likely to remain the case. It's a lovely track though.

The Video



As the video starts, you mind is suddenly drawn from the blissful joy of the video-only mix of the song to the fact that your leatheromoter has exploded. Depeche Mode have achieved peak leather and there is no scale capable of accurately assessing it. Alan is almost entirely leather, including his hair, and the video almost creaks as you watch it. Dave snarls, the least threatening hardman of all time, and Fletch and Martin stare. What is going on here then?

Hang on. A rose! Wait - Alan's gone? There are two roses now. WHERE'S FLETCH? Another rose. NOW MARTIN HAS DISAPPEARED. DAVE HAS EATEN THE REST OF THE BAND

It's a very troubling start. Dave eats his band members then escapes, heading to Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire. As he is Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, he needs a disguise so he cleverly dresses as a King albeit a King wandering around the Queen's estate would stand out. He's got a deckchair though so he can hide under that if anyone sees him. We see shots of the beautiful scenery you find all over the best small country on earth before we return to the scene of the crime. 

The band reappear and perhaps Dave murdering his bandmates was all a dream. Everything is fine. The four of them are back together, dressed in black again and...wait a minute...Dave's standing behind Alan looking very angry and grabbing Alan's shoulder. Oh no.....

He's off again. Having been recognised by a Gamekeeper in Balmoral, Dave heads for Portugal and the beach. He finds himself on Prainha Beach in the Algarve with his trusty deckchair once again in hand. To blend in, he even disguises himself as a tree at one point, though no-one is convinced:


The middle section of the song sees us revisit the pre murder days and we see the band having a jolly good laugh. Dave as the King appears, spreading out his arms and that image is the last image the three bandmates saw before being devoured. There's then more leatheriness, a bit more Dave and we'ere back to Portugal where Dave remains on the run. We see a final few shots of his former bandmates before Dave flees to Switzerland to hide in the Alps, living out his remaining days on his deckchair wondering why he ate his bandmates.

Of course, that could all be bollocks. It could be said that the video for Enjoy The Silence is a remarkable thing and the exact point where Anton Corbijn got it spot on with Depeche Mode. A stunning video for a stunning song.

You decide.

The Formats


BONG18 the standard 7" featured the Single versions of Enjoy The Silence and Memphisto. Martin says that the B-side is the name of an imaginary film he created where Elvis featured as the devil. Of course it is. Let's just pause for a second too and admire the artwork. Simple, yet perfect in every respect.


The back of the 7" looks like this. Bear that DM logo in mind as we will see it again soon.


At this point, let's take a trip to Promo Corner. Here is the UK 7" promo for the single. As you will see, it has a large A on the A-Side. That is the sign that you have a promo version. One will occasionally pop up on Ebay with the seller unaware of the real value of the item you are selling. If you can't wait and want one now, head to Discogs and get ready to spend around £400.


The promo 12" P12BONG18 features three tracks, all remixes of Enjoy The Silence - Bass Line, Ricki Tik Tik Mix and the Single Version. The Ricki Tik Tik Mix on the promo 12" is different to the commercially released mix that appears on the limited edition 12" and CD single, as it features additional keyboard sounds. That version was released commercially when the Depeche Mode Singles Box Set featuring Enjoy The Silence was released in 2004. This 12" can currently be yours for £65 or so on Discogs.


The final promo item for now is the 3" promo CD, CDBONG18R. It features the two songs featured on the 7" single. There's one for sale on Discogs for £70 at the time of writing.


Back to normal releases. The cassette single, CBONG18, is a nice thing as you can see. It features the songs from the 7" repeated on both sides.


12BONG18 mirrors the 7" single art. Its A-side features the 7" Version and the marvellous Hands And Feet Mix.


The B-side contains the Ecstatic Dub version of Enjoy The Silence and another spooky but adorable instrumental called Sibeling. 


The standard CD single, CDBONG18 pictured above, is a 3" CD featuring the same four tracks as the 12" albeit the Hands And Feet Mix is in an edited form due to the capacity of the CD. It is 37 seconds shorter than the 12" version.  The Ecstatic Dub is also 9 seconds shorter than it 12" counterpart. That's one second for every inch of difference in format size - you can't fault the band's attention to detail. The single was reissued on 5" CD too featuring the same four tracks, down to the 3" edits. For some reason, I don't have that CD. Yet.


There were limited edition formats too starting with L12BONG18, the limited edition 12". This is my favourite Depeche Mode record of all time. The record above was the first Depeche record I ever bought while in London on a family holiday in 1990. My Mum won't fly, so getting to our ultimate holiday destination of Livorno in Italy was hard enough. We started off driving from Castle Douglas to Dumfries, then getting a train first to Carlisle and then to London where we spent a night. I managed to go record shopping and bought this record. I subsequently carried it with me from London to Dover (train), Dover to Calais (hovercraft) and then from Calais to Livorno. Going home, I carried it all the way back, finally playing it at home in Castle Douglas having been a pain in the arse and added unnecessary hassle to a family holiday (Dad - "Would you put that bloody record down?"). Those memories however, and the memories of 1990's Depeche Mode discovery, make me very happy indeed.


I see I rambled on a bit there. Here is the rear of the L12. Also, some pressings of the 12" came with a black sticker that says Depeche Mode Limited Edition Remix on it.


LCDBONG18 is another three incher and it features the same four tracks as the L12: the Bass Line, Harmonium and Ricki Tik Tik versions of Enjoy The Silence and Memphisto. Harmonium is a version that is very close to Martin's original demo and is hauntingly beautiful. I used to put it on mixtapes thinking I was being really clever when, in fact and bloody obviously when you think about it, all people wanted to do was hear the actual song and not some obscure remix. 


Just when you thought we had been given enough formats, an advert like the one above appeared in the music press. What on earth was this? A one sided 15 minute remix with an etched B-Side? Come again? It was this glorious thing:


XL12BONG18. Now, we (and by "we," I automatically exclude any normal people) had been used to L12's and LCD's in the Depeche Mode release world, but what wizardry was an XL12 and XLCD? Well, it was apparently an extra limited release featuring a mix in four parts called The Quad: Final Mix, a 15 minute (actually 15 minutes 27 seconds) remix of Enjoy The Silence. Nearly as mad as the legendary Everything Counts Filofax pack, this was a truly odd yet marvellous way to round off the multi format madness of Enjoy The Silence. The sleeve is wonderful (remember that DM we mentioned earlier) and the inner sleeve a delight.


What is The Quad:Final Mix then? 4 remixers take charge and remix the single as they see fit, with Paul Kendall having the job of putting all four together. It's not a mix you would put on at a party, but it's still something quite remarkable. The first part is along the lines of the 12" mixes already released and is quite brilliant. At 3 minutes 26 seconds, an alarm clock sounds and the song takes off in a different direction entirely, experimental but interesting and then, all of a sudden, 6 minutes 28 seconds in, everything slows down and the song becomes an orchestral piece. It is beautiful. The orchestral section mixed by Gareth Jones and Mimi Kobayashi was actually released on its own on a Mute compilation album called International : Compilation Mute in 1993. The fourth part of The Quad begins at 10 minutes 41 seconds and ends on a high with a booming final section. What an odd but fantastic release.


The rear cover is wonderful too, echoing both standard 12" and CD singles PLUS the postcard I showed you earlier. If you are like me, and I presume most of you reading this are indeed that or even worse, then this can never fail to make you smile. The etching on the unplayable b-side is beautiful too as I hope the picture above shows. In many ways, this is an almost pointless, vanity release, but to be perfectly honest, I'd have bought it even if it didn't include a record.


There was also a CD release too with no etched b-side, but with a black 3" CD as you can see above. If you'll permit me one last wander down memory lane, this CD single is a wonderful example of how not to collect any band, let alone Depeche Mode. Back in 1990, I would go into Dumfries with my friends Stuart, Jamie and John and we'd trawl the record shops. At the end of one of these days, we went to Domino Records next to our bus stop. Both the XL12 and XLCD were on sale in that shop for 99p each. Rather than buy both, I bought the 12" and some chips. Many years later, I paid around £30 for the CD. Ok, at the age of 16, collecting was hardly at the forefront of my mind, but the chips instead of XLCDBONG18 decision remains one of my worst of all times, at least from an economic point of view.


The 2004 box set CD brought all the mixes together including The Quad:Final Mix. The Ricki Tik Tik Mix on there is the one from P12BONG18 and the Hands And Feet Mix and Ecstatic Dub are the 3" CD edits.

Oddly, Enjoy The Silence wasn't released in a huge number of countries and, in those that it was released in, the vinyl formats are fairly standard. Only France and Germany for example got the full 3 12" treatment. The CD single formats are the more interesting releases from around the world. Allow me to sap what remains of your will to live with a quick run through some of them.


Germany had three 3" releases. Here's the lovely blue version of CDBONG18. I particularly like the fact they use the Depeche Mode font on the CD as well as the sleeve. There are four variants of this. The most sought after seems to be the one with fan club info inside the sleeve. These things matter. Also, the full verson of the Hands And Feet Mix and Ecstatic Dub are present here.


Here's the German LCDBONG18. Again, nice CD font work.


Finally, the German XLCDBONG18 complete with non-exciting font.


The French had 3 CDs too, all on 5" format. They feature a rather nice DM on them as on the French CDBONG18 above.


The French LCD equivalent is similarly nice.


France got an XLCDBONG18 version too. Nice, but I prefer the look of the 3" versions.


The Belgian CDBONG18 version is a 5" CD too AND it features the full versions on the German 3" 


The Belgian LCD version is on 5". There is also a Belgian XLCDBONG18 on 5" but I don't have that. I was sure I did too.


The Brazilian CD single is very nice. Good font use and a grey colour which is pleasing. Same tracks as CDBONG18.


The American promo CD features the Single Mix, Hands And Feet Mix and Bass Line mixes of Enjoy The Silence.


The American maxi single features the 8 tracks from the two 12" singles. The first edition of it comes in a curious slipcase. It's cardboard on the outside and contains a plastic disc holder inside. You pull the CD up and out of it.


The re-release came in a standard jewel box.


Next to Japan where we have this odd chao, As you will see, it is very much NOT FOR SALE. This exists because of an error in a Japanese release of Violator. That release came with an 8 track Enjoy The Silence CD single but the Ecstatic Dub featured twice, kicking off the Hands And Feet Mix. This promo CD was then released to make up for this error. The text on the front apparently says:

"Dear customer,
Thanks you for purchasing the DM/Violator limited boxset. We are terribly sorry for the inconvenience, but due to a manufacturing mistake the second track on the box set's bonus CD differs from what it is indicated as. Please kindly accept this corrected version in exchange."


Finally, Japan gave us another snap pack CD, This features the same two tracks as the Uk 7". The packaging is glorious.


The CD is a 3 inch CD


If you want one, there's one on Discogs just now for £379. They don't turn up very often.


I tried to get through this without blubbering on about how much I love this song but it was impossible. Enjoy The Silence was a landmark song for Depeche Mode and, as well as restoring them to their rightful place in the UK Top Ten, it was a global hit and helped give Violator the momentum it needed to make it the huge global hit it became.

Peak Depeche Mode and a time when they got everything right. Enjoy The Silence was the point all the stars aligned for the band leading to them becoming a very big deal indeed.

Next time, it's Policy Of Truth.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 23: PERSONAL JESUS

 


Everything Counts (Live) marked the end of Depeche Mode's life as one of the best kept secrets in the music world. A single recorded live in a sold out stadium at the end of a rapturously received world tour meant that the Basildon synth poppers could go one of two ways: (1) no further than that and perpertually doomed to be viewed as a comedy 80's band like Duran Duran (or more appropriate band name not enetered simply to wind people up) or (2) onwards and upwards until they filled even more stadia and made a landmark album so era defining that people like me and Kevin May would ultimately write a book about it (Halo - The Story Behind Depeche Mode's Classic Album Violator.....coming soon).

It had to be number 1 didn't it? How could chicken hugging, spacehopper bouncing, leather dress wearing Depeche Mode get any bigger than the Rose Bowl? This lightweight band of chancers had surely come to an end.

Balls to that. It was option number two and, as a taster for their world conquering phase, they released a single that still sounds as fresh as a daisy, annoyed people who get annoyed too easily and that had a video in which the band (ok, just Dave) look as cool as anyone has ever looked before.

Reach out and touch Personal Jesus.

I'LL MAKE YOU A BELIEVER - PERSONAL JESUS

The Single


Personal Jesus (BONG17) was the first taste of what was to become Violator.  It was released on 29th August 1989 following an interesting promotional campaign. Back in those days, unless you were very fancy, you didn't have a mobile phone, but your standard telephone could still be used to call numbers to find out information about what player your football team were signing or listen to top pop songs all at terrifyingly expensive prices. In the late of summer of 1989, newspaper adverts started appearing in regional newspapers. One looked like this:

Picture courtesy of Michael Rose

Imagine that you'd called Data-Mate and got nowhere and then attempted to land a job as a Trainee Travel Agent only to get rejected. You might need salvation and so, looking for some hope, you call the number in the black advert and wait for help only to hear Depeche Mode. Ok, for all of us, that would have been immense, but some people were annoyed by this faux religious assistance.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Similar adverts appeared in the London Underground and the single got off to a controversial start, though not really by 2021 standards you have to say. 

For once, the single was pretty much universally well received. Stuart Maconie in the NME said:

"A hit even as we speak, but in the frantic rush to lionise surly adolescents in black jeans and people with their caps on back to front, we seemed to have overlooked the latest release by the most subversive singles band of the decade. Depeche Mode make criminally brilliant pop records about God, death, crazy sex and alienation and as far as I'm concerned they can do no wrong. 'Personal Jesus' sounds like The Glitter Band in the throes of an intense personal crisis. Huge fun."

His co-reviewer, Martin Gilks of The Wonder Stuff, got it wrong however, saying:

"It's great that they don't play all the Radio One rules, that they remain independent and make these weird records, but I can't say I like them. I don't care if I never hear that again. It's just so cold and lifeless. I respect them but it means nothing to me"

As much as I enjoyed Hup and The Eight Legged Groove Machine, it's fair to say that the cold and lifeless Personal Jesus has perfomed a little better over the last 30 years than Size Of A Cow. The usually Depeche friendly Smash Hits didn't review the single, but it did feature the lyrics:


Record Mirror looked kindly on the song, with Iestyn George awarding it Single Of The Week on 2nd September 1989. He said:

"Basildon's finest plunder the past, dress it up in leather trousers and add a Duane Eddy guitar lick for good measure. I never thought the day would come when I would say something nice about Depeche Mode, so this is something of a personal landmark."

Melody Maker talked their usual rubbish:

"Heavy stuff from The Mode whose neat Billy Graham spoof advertising campaign has raised a few eyebrows and maybe caused the odd Grahamite passer-by to question the great man's authority. Having said all this however, it grieves me to say that musically this is the same old DM - all nasal vocals and weedy keyboards circa '81. What's more, the lyrics pack none of the ad campaign's clout and the tune is a monotonous drone. But the point is, at least they're trying. And that isn't a pun."

Oh go away. Finally, Sounds were much more supportive:

"Great stuff. A trembling hypnosis underpins Gahan's dangerously sensual, betoken voice as lingering, unspoken meanings trail off into infinity. It'll be nice to see the DM's back where they belong, breeding discontent, shitting over all else in their devout intent. It's hard to imagine this lot were ever the simpering leather-clad toy boys of yore - this reeks of evil and the satin of sweaty sheets."

Quite. Simon May made it Radio 1's Record Of The Week too and who can argue with that? Depeche Mode were getting (mainly) good press in their homeland and all that they needed to do was appear on Top of The Pops and it would be Top 10 all the way. They didn't do that of course. Instead, the video, more of which to come, was shown on Britian's top pop show and the single performed reasonably well rather than splendidly so. It enetered the UK charts at number 25 on 9th September 1989 and then climed to 13 the next week. It then stalled sadly, dropping to 14, 19, 30 and the 43, before fading away via 65, 75 and finally 86. Ok, it was the band's highest chart placing since Master And Servant, but it's yet another daming indictment on the British public that this song didn't at least make the Top 10. 


They did promote it abroad however, One such appearance was on the Dutch show Countdown which was a mercifully different version of the UK programme of the same name. Here we see Dave looking exceptionally cool, Martin fully clothed, Fletch being Fletch and Alan topping the leatherometer up to a pleasing 97.64% albeit while wearing a Bob Dylan or Neil Young-like mouth organ frame thing for no reason whatsoever. Enjoyable stuff.

Personal Jesus is not a song you need me to tell you anything about because you know it and, unless something has gone badly wrong with your ears, you love it. The single version is a nice edit that ends on that perplexing noise but it is glorious. In Britain it is currently being used as the soundtrack to an advert for the series Deutschland 89 and every time I hear that first "Reach Out And Touch Faith" it is as thrilling as the first time I heard it. This song simply cannot, will not grow old. It is a masterpiece and surely one of the finest British pop singles of all time. No other band could have done this. Sneer all you want non believers, but to deny that Personal Jesus is nothing other than very special is a denial made only to prove a point and that point is that you can't accept that Depeche Mode are capable of moments this special. Admit you love it, you know you do. 

The band love it too of course and not just because it has ensured that they are very famous people indeed. It has been played live 874 times, featuring on every tour since World Violation with the exception of the Ultra parties which I add only to head off pedantry. Personally, it is always a highlight of the concert. The song is one of the few that lends itself to a full band approach and, the quite dreadful slow start to the Delta Machine version aside, it never lets you down. 

The B-Side to the single is Dangerous, a real gem of a B-Side. Dangerous is like a bridge between Music For The Masses and Violator era Depeche Mode, not quite slinky enough to appear on Violator but perky enough to suggest that Depeche Mode were capable of taking their purely electronic sound to new, more complex levels. It's bloody marvellous basically. It has never been played live however. perhaps because if it suddenly popped up in a set, everyone at the venue would have a pleasure induced heart attack and every fan not there would have an anger induced seizure. Literally a Dangerous song.

The Video


It's hard to cast too much of a critical eye over the Violator era videos as I am quote openly in love with every single aspect of them, but here we go.

Personal Jesus was filmed at the Texas Hollywood Theme Park in Tabernas Desert, Almeria Spain in June 1989. You can still hire the place out if you want to have a go at recreating the video - click out and hire faith

Anton returned to directing duties after sitting out the last two videos and we therefore immediately return to grainy footage, prostitutes and general sleaze. We open on a shot of the pretend cowboy town the band are storming and see a woman running to let the town's only inhabitants, a gang of ladies of the night, that Depeche Mode are arriving. Alan and Dave turn up on horseback and Fletch and Martin arrive by pick-up truck, those two still traumatised by the See You chicken incident, clearly still not ready to go near any form of animal. Alan and Dave are made of sterner stuff.

The lads variously tie up and park up their modes (ho ho) of transport and saunter into town. It has to be said that Martin does not make a convincing cowboy. Fletch kind of does and Alan looks ok, but Martin looks like he's been dressed up against his will. Dave looks incredibly cool however, taking on the Martin role of wearing a jacket and nothing underneath it. He even manages to sing beside a horse and not look like out of place.

We enter the bordello pausing to see a quite stupendous black and white shot of the band at its entry. The women inside look unconvinced. They'd just finished watching The Videos 81-85 so were clearly worried about who was going to be turning up. "Are these the guys that played space invaders while milkmen stood behind them giving them coins?" 

We then get a load of shots of women and Dave all in grainy black and white, posing around with Dave singing along before Depeche Mode repair to their individual rooms. Not much happens really until we get to the breathing sample bit in the middle of the song where we see Martin miming along and what could only be called a horse's arse. Hmmm. I have resolved that if I do ever meet Martin and, presuming he doesn't quickly run away having realised I'm that oddball that writes long blogs about his singles, I'm going to ask him what inspired that middle section in this song. I'm sure there are 100 better things I could ask him ("Martin...Hole To Feed...what do you really think?) but this will be the question I was my one meeting with him on.

Anyway, horse's arse dispensed with (erm...), we're back outside and Dave is singing away again. Whatever went on in the bedrooms clearly tired the rest of them out, as we see Martin asleep in a chair and Alan sitting in the sun, cooling himself with is cowboy hat. Fletch is much perkier and, rather than sleeping, jumps onto his rocking horse and happily rocks away. There is only one member of Depeche Mode who could have handled this role and come out of it well. Once again, I salute you Fletch.

Feet are stamped and then we get hot live band action. Martin plays his guitar, Alan for thematic rather than musical reasons blows a harmonica and Fletch lazily prods at an acoustic guitar, desperate to get back on his rocking horse. Alan suddenly gets a call and literally picks up a receiver, the band play on, Dave pops back inside for a bit and we head to the end with a mic of band shots and Dave singing.

A tremendous video.

The Formats


I'm starting with promos this time. They are not official formats as such and are only collected by idiots like me, but there are far more of them from this single onwards so it makes sense to look at them first. Here is the 7" promo for Personal Jesus which features the same sleeve as BONG17 albeit with a Ferret & Spanner sticker on the front telling you the release date.


Here is the rear of the sleeve which, as keen eyed readers have noticed is all black. Why, you ask?


Well, the standard issue 7" is shown above, As you can see, it features nudity and the last thing that anyone wanted was every copy of Personal Jesus being destroyed by shocked radio stations. To ensure airplay, a censored 7" was prepared and sent out. A tad over the top perhaps, but Britain was a different place then. 


By 1989, radio stations had started buying CD players, so a promo CD single was sent out too. This 3" single was also censored. It features the same tracks as CDBONG17 which we'll look at shortly. The front sleeve of the CD is identical to the official release. If you fancy getting a copy of either of these censored promos, be ready to spend a silly amount of money.


A promo 12" was issued too. P12BONG17 uses the classic Mute promo sleeve so it didn't need any censoring. It features the Pump Mix of Personal Jesus and the Hazchemix of Dangerous.



The normal 7" features the single versions of Personal Jesus and Dangerous. The sleeve art is simple, yet stunning and the label really rather lovely. As we've seen above, Martin features on the rear of the sleeve hugging the nude model. No-one is entirely sure why any of that was necessary.


While we are on the 7" single, you may want to collect the Scandanavian version as it features Dave rather than Martin. I don't have it so the above picture has been kindly supplied by my friend Joeri whos Instagram account depechemode7inchheaven is one you very much want to visit. 


Back in the UK, the single was released on cassette too. CBONG17 features the same tracks as the 7".


Fletch is the cover star this time. It looks like the model is having a go at him and Andy looks like he'd rather be on his rocking horse than having whatever disucssion he is currently having.


There was a new format this time - a gatefold 7" with booklet. GBONG17 is a three track single and it is a really nice package.


On the A-Side, we have the single version of Personal Jesus.


The B-side features the Hazcehmix Edit of Dangerous which is an enjoyable electro take on the song and the Acoustic version of Personal Jesus which is a lovely thing. We also see the full band on the back, with Martin on hugging duty.


The gatefold section of the release features a big D and beside that we have a four page booklet stapled into the sleee. There's Dave there on page 1.


Andy and Alan are our centrefolds.


Martin concludes the booklet and there's a big M on the inner sleeve. The Violator The 12" Singles boxset brilliantly recreated the shots from the booklet when it was released. I drooled on about that length here if you can bear even more of this once you've finished this blog.



12BONG17 is a marvellous thing. On the A-side (above), we have the brilliant Holier Than Thou Approach version of Personal Jesus.


The B-side features the Sensual Mix of Dangerous, one of my favourite remixes and the Acoustic version of Personal Jesus. Dave is the cover "star." Later versions of this 12" have red labels rather than black ones. I don't yet have one of those unfortunately.


In the same way as night follows day, where there is a 12BONG there will soon be an L12BONG  and that's what we got here. L12BONG17 features three tracks and comes with a sticker telling you it's a Limited Edition. Handy. The A-side features the majestic Pump Mix of Personal Jesus.


On the B-Side we get the Telephone Stomp Mix of Personal Jesus and the Hazchemix of Dangerous. The same full band picture as appeared on GBONG17 appears here too.


CDBONG17 is a 3" CD single.


It features the same three tracks as 12BONG17 and it's where Alan finally makes an appearance.


LCDBONG17 is another 3" release, contains the same tracks as L12BONG17 and features the full band photo on the inner sleeve. Some versions, but not mine, have the same sticker the L12 does.


CDBONG17 received a 5" reissue in 1992.


The 2004 boxset version CDBONG17X brought together every single track from the original release including the Hazcehmix Edit, until that point a mix only available on GBONG17.

At this point, I'll pause and tell you that Personal Jesus was released in a lot of places and I am not mad enough to own every single format that it appeared on across the entire planet. To see a full list, head to depmod.com and get ready to collect. Here are a few of the releases I have, starting in Germany


There are two German 12" singles. The first is the same as 12BONG17


The second is of course the same as L12BONG17 other than the label.


The German equivalent of CDBONG17 is a 5" affair with a rather nice design.


The LCDBONG17 German version comes on a similarly nice CD.


The French stuck a Depeche Mode sticker on their 12BONG17, just in case the buyer had no idea what band had recorded the song.


The French L12 repeated the trick and added a sticker that said REMIX for good measure. 


A slightly too large sticker was stuck on the front of the French CDBONG17 too. The CD itself is a mad looking thing.


The LCDBONG17 in France was sticker free abut the large REMIX hadn't gone away. As you can see, it moved to the CD single. On the topic of stickers and France, there are three variations of the 7" single. It has the same cover as BONG17 but either has no sticker saying Depeche Mode, has a sticker saying Depeche Mode or has the words Depeche Mode printed on it instead of being stuck on it.


Here's the Belgian equivalent of LCDBONG17. It's on a very nice 5" and comes in a thick box.


Next we move to Italy. Here is the Italian version of 12BONG17. There is also an Italian L12.


Spain released only one 12" and it features the same three tracks as 12BONG17.


In America, a 2 track 12" promo was released, featuring Personal Jesus (Acoustic) twice. Basically, a one track promo.


The US 12" famously became Warners' biggest selling 12" to date and rightly so. It's a five track spectacular. Personal Jesus in its Holier Than Thou Approach and 7" Version guises feature on the A-side.


The Pump Mix appears on the B-side together with the Sensual Mix and 7" version of Dangerous.


Th2 US CD single, the first Depeche Mode CD I ever got, is an 8 track release featuring all the tracks you find on BONG17, 12BONG17 and L12BONG17.


Want to see a Brazilian CD single? Well there you go. It features the same tracks as CDBONG17.


The Japanese CD single features the same 8 tracks as the US one. It comes with an OBI and a booklet.


The booklet features many pictures, not least this bizarre Martin hat lifting one.



This South African 12" is an odd one. On Side A, you have the same tracks as appear on 12BONG17 yet on the B-Side, you have Route 66 (Casualty Mix) and Behind The Wheel (Megamix). Goodness knows how that happened. 


Finally, we come to this, one of the most sought after non promo releases - the Australian blue vinyl 12" single. It features five Personal Jesus remixes. On the A-side, there are the 7" and Holier Than Thou Approach.


The B-side features the Pump Mix, Acoustic Mix and Telephone Stomp Mix. If you fancy buying this 12", head to Discogs and get ready to spend around £1,000.


Personal Jesus showed the world that Depeche Mode were not prepared to rest on the laurels of their 1980's success and were ready to keep pushing themselves in new directions. It would be a few months until the next album was released and at that point, everything would change.

Before then however, there would be another single, a song so good that for years people would make the preposterous claim that it changed their life.

I am one of those people. I'll attempt to avoid going over the top about the greatest song that anyone has ever recorded at any time on earth now and in the future next time.