Friday 26 August 2011


So last time we'd got up the release of the magnificent Enjoy The Silence. Here, I'll take a fawning, over complimentary and barely objective look at Violator itself together with the remaining singles from the album. As ever, views are my own, discography information is sourced from and the pictures are borrowed from which for the uninitiated is a forum full of foul mouthed neanderthals who happen to like Depeche Mode. Do have a look at it.

It's no exaggeration to say that music changed forever and for the better on March 19 1990. Ok, it maybe is but you get my point. On that day Depeche Mode unleashed Violator on an unsuspecting world simultaneously changing the planet's perception of both them as a band and of electronic music generally. The album and tour were huge successes with the band turning into a fully fledged stadium band as their sold out nights at Dodgers Stadium show. The album reached number 2 in Britain (Changesbowie and a Carpenters collection were to blame for keeping the band from a justified number one) and number 7 in the US. At that point it could be argued that Depeche were one of the biggest bands in the world, especially given that U2 and REM were then having a rest. Bear in mind too that Depeche were still viewed as an "alternative" act which makes this success all the more impressive.
The great thing about Depeche Mode back then was their ability to constantly reinvent themselves whilst ensuring that their releases were always a step or two n from the previous one. Violator (STUMM64 - sleeve right) was no exception to that. The 9 tracks (plus two unnamed on the sleeve musical passages) are so different from anything that the band had done before that it's hard to believe the same chaps who recorded It's Called A Heart only 5 years before turned out the likes of Halo etc. The album kicks off with the Depeche Mode do Kraftwerk but faster World In My Eyes which is the best first track of any DM album ever - fact. Track 2 is the phenomenal Sweetest Perfection, a Martin sung song which features Dave on counter meoldy duties towards the end. This song has the Alan Wilder presses the epic button feel to it. It builds and builds before a fantastic middle part moving towards the sort of explosion noise at the end which is then hastily followed by the well know "bing bing" of Personal Jesus. The version on Violator grafts a part from the Holier Than Thou Approach mix from the standard issue 12" and cd singles. Track 4 is one of THE classic Depeche Mode songs - Halo. It's an absolutely perfect song with great lyrics, a killer chorus and music that proves the Depeche of 1990 really were up to something rather special. I even love

"Bring your chains, your lips of tragedy and fall into my arms"

and I'm still not sure how that particular scenario would play out in real life. Marvellous however. Next up we have the frankly epic (I know, I know, stop praising everything. I AM trying. Honest) Waiting For The Night or as Martin would have originally had it Waiting For The Night To Fall but the words "To Fall" were apparently missed off when the sleeves were printed. You'd think someone would be checking those things. Anyhow, WFTN is a seqeuncer driven wonderballad (!) with beautiful vocals from Dave and Martin. The World Violation tour version was really special (from what I've seen on youtube as I didnt see that tour :( ) with top notch visuals from Anton. WFTN ends side one as we used to say. Next up is Enjoy The Silence a song about which I made my views pefectly clear last time. Enjoy The Silence then moves into an unnamed track which we all know is named Crucified (Dave on lead guitar and Fletch on vocals - FACT) before Policy of Truth smacks us in the face. I'll talk about Policy of Truth more below. For fans of typing errors generally ( I presume you are one if you read my blog as it is full of them) Policy of Truth is listed as The Policy of Truth in the lyrics inside the album. Again, you'd think someone would have a look at these things.

The last two tracks are just as good as anything that came before. Blue Dress follows Policy of Truth. It is another Martin sung song in the classic Gore "Dress up and I'll watch you from over here you lucky lady" style. It's great however and was played acoustically by Martin on the World Violation tour along with Sweetest Perfection, Here Is The House, I Want You Now, World Full of Nothing and Little 15. He played 2 from that lot a night. Blue Dress is followed by another quick instrumental Interlude # 3 which sounds like the band wandering over a moorland singing and the we hit the last track Clean. I make no apologies for my countinual bias here. Clean is an astounding track and a perfect way to end the album. The production of the album by Flood and Alan Wilder is sensational throughout.

I can honestly say that Violator changed my life, no doubt about that at all. I bought the cassette (CSTUMM64 - STUMM64 was the album and CDSTUMM64 the cd by the way) on the day it came out and listened to it constantly for about a year. I let it out of my sight once lending it to Lindsay White after much persuasion only for her to return it with the black sticker on side 2 peeled away slightly at the corner. Argh! It may be the fondness with which I recall that period making me say it but of all the versions here I still think the cassette package generally is the most beautiful. The artwork as a whole is perfection but the cassette version will always be my favourite here. Whenever I hear or indeed think of Violator I am taken back to being a 16 year old amazed by what I am hearing and just being caught up in the sheer beauty of the album. I'll never lose that and for that I simply have to thank Depeche Mode.
The next single from Violator was Policy of Truth which came out on 7 May 1990 reaching number 16 in the UK and. Policy is a great track with one of Martin's catchier choruses. It's still very popular amongst fans now despite the forum based whinging that greeted its return to the setlist during the last tour. Yes there are about 50 other songs they could play but after you've had a few beers/wines etc jumping about singing along to Policy of Truth is a very enjoyable way to spend 5 minutes. So there. The video features the lads chasing around an American city all looking for a snog with the same two girls. They have a quick kiss with them all then run off leaving the lads looking either angry (Dave and Alan) perplexed as ever (Fletch) or really sad (Martin). Poor Martin - he looks genuinely upset. The 7" (BONG19 - right) and cassette single (CBONG19 - left) come with two tracks Policy of Truth and a new b-side Kaleid which is an instrumental with acid house type bass in places and what my parents would inevitably call "a really good beat." A version of Kaleid mixed up with Crucified was used as the intro music on the tour. Your standard 12" (12BONG19 - same cover art as the 7") and cd single (CDBONG19 - right) contained 3 new mixes. Policy of Truth (Beat Box Mix), Policy of Truth (Capitol Mix) and Kaleid (When Worlds Mix). The Beat Box mix is my favourite here as it really enhances the song and gives it that old fashioned 12" extended mix feel which I think we're all fans of. The Capitol Mix is fine too although it's not the most memorable remix of the bunch. I really like the Kaleid remix too - to be honest I think the track is one of my favourite Depeche Mode instrumentals. Interesting fact eh? The cd single (CDBONG19 - above right) replaced the When Worlds Mix of Kaleid with Kaleid (Remix) whichis another mix of decent quality.There were the usual limted editions too - a rather fabulous glossy gatefold 12" (L12BONG19 - left) and an equally lovely cd single (LCDBONG19 - right). The 12" (the band's first gatefold 12") features three remixes the first of which is the fantastic Trancentral Mix by the KLF which features their usual mix of ambiet oddness and, naturally, sheep noises. Every time someone says "I'm not a Politician, I'm a basis man" I have a wry smile to myself. Ok, this hasn't ever actually happenned but IF it did I'd smile. The other mix of Policy of Truth on the 12" is Pavlov's Dub which is a fairly decent mix too although I don't exactly drool whenever I hear it. The Remix of Kaleid as first found on CDBONG19 completes the 12". The cd single has 5 tracks - the two Policy of Truth remixes from L12, Kaleid (When Wolrds Mix) and the 7" mixes of both Policy of Truth and Kaleid.

The fourth and final single from Violator (although Halo was considered for a fifth release) was the majestic World In My Eyes which was released on 17 September in a multitude of interesting formats. The single got as far as number 17 in the UK despite both its' general brilliance and the fantastic video which was part World Violation footage (amazing) and part Dave perving over some girl in a drive in cinema seemingly reciting the words of the song to her.The artwork for the single is amazing with different members doing the WIME hand signal thing on the different formats. The 7" (BONG20 - right) and cassette single (CBONG20 - left) had three tracks including two new tracks - World In My Eyes (7" version), Happiest Girl (Jack Mix) and Sea of Sin (Tonal Mix). The b-sides are the stars of these formats. Happiest Girl is a great Martin perv song which quite boldly and quite correctly rhymes "thighs" with "eyes". Sea of Sin is just bloody brilliant. We really were spoiled with b-sides at this point - Dangerous, Happiest Girl, Sea of Sin and Kaleid are stronger than many b-sides and indeed most of Exciter. For the record, and as far as I can tell, the 7" cover features Fletch, the cassette single Alan. 12BONG20 (right with I think Martin doing the hand business on the cover) gave us three tracks - World In My Eyes (Oil Tank Mix), Happiest Girl (Kiss-a-mix) and Sea of Sin (Sensoria). The mixes of the b-sides are excellent of course but my favourite here is the Oil Tank Mix of the main track which I played to death when I first bought this record. It's a long slowish mix but it's a cracker. The cd (CDBONG20 - left with Dave's hands) replaced the mix of Sea of Sin on the 12" with the Tonal Mix from the 7" and cassette release and added the 7" version of the lead track. Next we have the limited editions. The beautiful, rare as 3 note Fletch keyboard parts limited editions. As with my Quad:Final Mix woe I really have to go back to my 16 year old self and slap him repeatedly until he buys at least 3 copies of each stressing the utter importance of NOT CUTTING OPEN THE 12" PACK ESPECIALLY AT THE WRONG BLOODY PART! The frankly greatest limited record ever released L12BONG20 (right) came in a glossy black 12" sleeve with an inner sleeve featuring live shots from the tour. The best bit however was the blue PVC sleeve it came in which had to be cut open at the top. This was indicated by the words "Violate Here." Absloutely perfect. Just amazing. Not only did I cut the thing open, I did it at the wrong part too. Idiot. Alan and Fletch are doing the hand signals on the cover. Artwork aside, there was also a record with music on it here. The tracks are World In My Eyes (Dub In My Eyes) (decent mix), World In My Eyes (Mode To Joy) a brilliant mix by Jon Marsh of the briefly popular Beloved and Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Mix) an instrumental mix by ambient oddballs The Orb. All great tracks. The limited cd (LCDBONG20 - left) is hugely rare meaning that I only have two copies. I know - geek. One is the German edition which I presume is as rare. Anyway, it's yet another stunning package featuring a live Dave on the front and lots of other live shots inside. It has 6 tracks aboard - World In My Eyes (Dub In My Eyes), World In My Eyes (Mode To Joy), Sea of Sin (Sensoria) and Happiest Girl (Jack Mix) we already know about. The additions here were World In My Eyes (Mayhem Mode) and Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Vocal Mix). The former is another Jon Marsh mix which I prefer to Mode To Joy. The latter is a vocal version of the Orb's instrumental mix from L12BONG20 which is really really good. It was also ultra rare given the rarirty of this cd not really gaining much exposure until the singles box set re-releases.
Trying to put bias aside, I find it immensely difficult to think of another period in Depeche or indeed any band's history when the brilliance of the songs has been matched by the brilliance of the product throughout from the artwork to the adverts to the backing films to the record labels and beyond. Anton and the band merged perfectly and created Depeche Mode's most iconic phase. Other stadium league bands were watching closely - U2's Zoo TV lifted World Vioaltion's best bits and both their artwork and that or REM's for Automatic For The People was created by Anton. As well as musically, Depeche were influencing artistically.
The World Violation Tour wrapped up leaving Depeche as one of the world's biggest bands and justifiably so. After a small break, they'd do their best to top it (and themselves) with Songs of Faith and Devotion. That'll be the next blog at some not too distant point in the future. As ever, all views expressed above are mine only and if you find mistakes then blame me!

Wednesday 3 August 2011

The new Premier League preview

The new football season is almost upon us (at least in terms of the English season - we started up here in Scotland the day after the last season ended or something). For no reason other than I'm shirking my work duties, here is my special preview with predictions and all that:

Good old Arsenal. Attractive football, glorious passing, wonderful talented youngsters who will play brilliantly until it gets a bit dark and cold. They'll beat Scunthorpe 6-0 in the Carling Cup at the Emirates in September with a team of French/African 8 year olds whereupon Sky will proclaim them the greatest footballing force on earth ever yet they'll still end up with no trophies as Wenger's "project" enters its 113th barren year. Fabregas is still there, they still don't have a goalkeeper who isn't either injury prone or psychologically unfit and their defence is still comedy gold. Same old stuff. Gervinho looks exciting but then so did Chamakh. God help us if anyone dares to tackle or injure their players too - that's just not allowed and it's really bad. And nasty.

Prediction: 5th
If they were a band they'd be: Red Hot Chilli Peppers - globally famous, the first single always sounds interesting but it then quickly tales off into the same old rubbish leaving you feeling slightly cheated. With slap bass.

"Big" "Eck" has judased his way over from Brum to carry on the festival of dullardry that Martin O'Neill and Gerard Houllier served up in the preceding two seasons. Young has gone to M** U** and Downing to Liverpool meaning that their main (only?) creative forces have gone. Given will do well as he always does. Villa should be a lot more inspiring to talk about but they're just..well...dull. McLeish doesn't exactly set his teams up like Guardiola either so brace yourselves for grim times Villa fans.

Prediction: 10th
If they were a band they'd be: Kings Of Leon - biggish, a lot of support but really boring.

Another team who fail to inspire. The Venky's have potential to be the new comedy gold onwers in the league - booting Fat Sam out was hilarious if only for the preposterous media reaction to his toadness' dismissal. Blackburn almost went down last year thanks in no part to Steve "Not Roy" Kean's buffoonery and they'll struggle again this year too. The ridiculous exit by walking round the pitch thing annoys me too for no reason at all. To be honest, they may have signed players or they may not - I neither know nor care. Does anyone?

Predition: 15th
If they were a band they'd be: A one hit wonder who bafflingly gets a number one before drifting off into mid chart obscurity. Glenn Medeiros.
Owen Coyle turned Bolton into a watchable team which must be a relief to Trotters (is there a more Northern sounding nickname) fans after the shite served up by Megson and Allardyce. Losing Chung Yong Lee is a blow for them which will only be worsened if they sign Shaun Wright Phillips to replace him as is rumoured. Bolton won't do much in terms of bothering the top 4 but they'll be safe enough.

Prediction: 7th
If they were a band they'd be: Something bland with a Scottish leader. Marillion.

Another season, another new manager, another set of increasingly daft expectations from Mr Abramovich. Villas Boas is the new fashionable mini Mourinho but will he get the best out of an ageing squad with a £50m misfit leading the line? They won't win the league or even the Champions League but they'll be close - the squad's too good not to do that. The most interesting thing about Chelsea is watching who shoots/shags/murders/attacks/inserts phone first from their squad of angels.

Prediction: 3rd
If they were a band they'd be : Bryan Adams - no-one knows anyone who likes him but he's successful. And annoying.

The self proclaimed people's club who in no way at all have a chip on their shoulder about Liverpool. Bill "Corrie" Kenwright has spent another handsome sum of money on players this summer meaning that Moyes will have to yet again work his magic with a fairly thin squad over reliant on Cahill, Arteta and Fellaini when he's fit or not suspended. You have to give Moyes credit for what he's done no doubt, but the Partridge style cardigan and chinos from the Champions League Qualifying Round (not the Champions League itself) joke a few years ago always springs to mind when credit starts to be given. They won't go down as there is far too much crap in the league for that to happen but they will finish in the bottom half.

Prediction: 14th
If they were a band they'd be: Spandau Ballet - big in the 80's, still have a cult following but will never recapture their glory years. True.

Martin Jol is back which is always good fun and he's even brought John "WHY DIDNT YOU KICK IT FFS! WHY USE YOUR HEAD IN THE LAST BLOODY MINUTE OF A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI YOU ARSE" Arne Riise back for free kicks and one footedness. I like Jol and I think he'll do better with Fulham than Mark the Ego Hughes did. Top ten for them.

Prediction: 9th
If they were a band they'd be: Michael Jackson. The statue outside the ground leaves no other option.

My team, led by my hero Mr Dalglish. After last year's Hodgocaust, Kenny came in and worked miracles even finding the time to promote top notch youngsters, spend £35m on Andy Carroll which is still a work in progress and spend £22m on Luis Suarez who is possibly the most exciting player in the league. Liverpool still need to sort out the defence and a back up striker would help too. The formation may be an issue as well as I don't think Carroll works well up front on his own. Midfield shouldn't be an issue however as we have 32 midfielders at present. I predict a League or FA Cup this season.

Prediction: 4th
If they were a band they'd be: Depeche Mode. I love them, their golden period is long gone but I keep coming back in the hope it'll come again

Who gives a toss about this lot? Eventually they'll buy the league simply by virtue of the fact they'll own every player on earth. Despite the sheer number of players they have they still won't win the league this year. The best thing about City is Super Mario as he is a comedy genius. He has the potential to be one of the best players in the world but he just doesn't care. Mancini is too unadventurous a manager to give the City owners what they want and I reckon they'll give him the boot at the end of the season and bring in a bigger name like Mourinho. Just imagine how happy that'll make Sky eh?

Prediction: 2nd
If they were a band they'd be: A tramp who found a winning lottery ticket. Not really a band but it's too good a line ( (C) Chris Stirrup @Chris_tweetings) not to use

M********* U*****
(Don't know where those asterisks came from). They'll win it again unfortunately. Despite losing Scholes(y) and Van Der Sar and despite keeping Darren Fletcher they have enough quality to see off the rest of the league. They're still a bit weak in midfield but their attack is pretty potent and they're still defensively strong if Ferdinand stays fit. Ashley Young may prosper and a squad that includes the likes of Nani, Park and Howard Webb is pretty good.

Prediction: 1st
If they were a band they'd be: Genesis. Big, famous and self important. And I fucking hate them

Who actually knows eh? Their owners are lunatics, all the squad are leaving and the £35m we gave them for Carroll seems to have disappeared. You can't help but think that they'll struggle this year and that the fans will turn on the board even more. Newcastle fans must wish for a quiet life sometimes. Down I'm afraid.

Prediction: 19th
If they were a band they'd be: Killing Joke.

Paul Lambert has worked miracles for the Canaries with two successive promotions. Obviously he can't get a third on the bounce so the big issue for him is can he keep Norwich in the league? They'll be this season's Blackpool in that everyone will want them to do well. They also won't have a rentagob manager which will be a bonus as Lambert's a miserable bugger. He likes his team to play good football though and again because there are three worse teams than them in the league he'll just keep them up.

Prediction: 17th
If they were a band they'd be: The band that plays the theme tune to Cooking With Delia.

Like many football fans, I am delighted to see Neil Warnock (or Colin as he should be known) back if only to hear him moan like a twat when they get relegated and he tries to blame everyone bar himself and the shite football he plays. Despite their owners' riches, they havent spent much cash and if Taarabt goes as seems likely they'll be stuffed. Back down for them.

Prediction: 18th
If they were a band they'd be: A band who arent very good and have a really annoying frontman. Kasabian.

They had a good season last year which tailed off after they got to the Cup Final. Tony Pulis only signs players who are over 7 feet tall so it'll be another season of having to do it on a wet and windy night at Stoke and coping with Luftwaffe like arial assaults. That said, I dont think Pulis gets enough credit as he has made them a Premier League fixture and deserves praise for that. Watch out for Rory Delap - apparently he can throw a ball.

Prediction: 8th
If they were a band they'd be: Rammstein. Scary basically.You can actually see Robert Huth playing in that band.

Their main problem is replacing Darren Bent, as their season went to pot after they sold him last year. Gyan doesn't score enough and Wickham is maybe still too raw to step up. Steve Melted Face Bruce has signed his usual number of ex M** U** players after being instructed to do so by Ferguson but that won't help him this year. More mid table moaning from Bruce and co.

Prediction: 12th
If they were a band they'd be: Phil Collins - a crapper version of Genesis (see M** Utd** above).

The surprise promotion this year and unfortunately a certainty to get a thrashing off most teams except when they win 1-0 at Anfield. Given that they don't have the cash to put a squad together that can compete at this level, all I can see is relegation despite the fact that they're generally well organised and play decent fitba'. Nice to see them up again though.

Prediction: 20th
If they were a band they'd be: Shirley Bassey. From Wales you see.

Ah, good old Spurs. Big Spurs, the big team who have yet again nearly signed everyone this year. After Honest 'Arry's league winning prediction in March they gave up only guaranteeing Europa League "glory" by beating Liverpool at Anfield in May. Spurs Champions League adventure was impressive but having missed out this year it may prove to be a flash in the pan. Redknapp will be a fixture on TV all season of course not talking about other teams players to Sky whenever the camera crew that live on his wing mirror pop up. Keeping Modric is key to Spurs' fortunes - I reckon he'll leave though given how unhappy he is.

Precdiction: 6th
If they were a band they'd be: Chas N Dave obviously. With Redknapp dressed up as Del Boy in the back.

Roy "Poulsen, Konchesky, Jones and Cole" Hodgson kept them up last year after doing his best to relegate Liverpool. As with Fulham, his West Brom team play decent football and should end up mid table without worrying about relegation. Fair play to him for that. I'll say no more.

Prediction: 13th
If they were a band they'd be: Judas Preist. A quieter version of Black Sabbath (see below)

How long can they stay in the league? They seemed a dead cert to drop last season but clung on yet they'll struggle again this year especially if they lose the likes of James McCarthy. I've got a lot of time for Roberto Martinez as he's another manager who likes to play decent football. Dave Whelan on the other hand is an obnoxious idiot. All 4 of their fans don't seem to care much for the team either. Has that ground ever been full?

Prediction: 16th
If they were a band they'd be: A solo guy with a broken guitar 5th on the bill at a battle of the bands night. With no fans

Mick McCarthy is a genius. He speaks as he finds it etc and I like that. His teams play dreadful football and you wouldn't want to watch them week in week out but he's always good value post match win or lose. Kevin Doyle is a main man for them and it seems that other teams are sniffing around him which could cause Wolves trouble. I like Steven Fletcher too as he's always seemed like someone who could really start banging the goals in. Maybe this year. They'll be safe anyway and may even sneak mid table

Prediction: 11th
If they were a band they'd be: Black Sabbath. A louder, better and more entertaining version of Judas Priest (see above)

So there you go - a meaningless set of inevitably wrong predictions for this year. Obviously I hope Liverpool win everything but realistically we won't. Next season maybe...