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 depechemode.com and the pictures are borrowed from depechemode.tv 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!
Hi David !ReplyDelete
Great comments - huge work, thanks for that.
Please give your feelings on SOFAD!
Charles Fouret, a french DM fan.
Hail!Hail!Nice piece.Clean is just too amazing to put into words.ReplyDelete
Best closing track EVER!
Brilliant as everReplyDelete
Policy of Truth is excellent for five minutes - cos it means you can go to the toilet and not miss anything worthwhile
Thanks - took me back reading that. Agree that's their best LP so farReplyDelete
The sample from the "Trancentral mix" seems to really be "I'm not a politician. I'm a business man"...ReplyDelete
Twenty-four years on (2014), Violator is a very poetic album, and still a favorite and probably one of my personal two or three favorite releases from Depeche Mode.
I rate Violator as my favourite ever album!ReplyDelete
I rate Violator as my favourite ever album!ReplyDelete