As Kevin May and I are currently finding out, writing a book about Depeche Mode can be a tricky thing to do. For a band as big as they are, there is not a huge amount of source material to draw upon beyond the usual interviews on the release of a new album or the odd live review or two and, outside the short films that accompanied the Remasters series or the occasional contribution to the likes of Synth Britannia, the band keep their history close to their chest. Previous Depeche Mode biographies have ranged from the very good (Stripped by Jonathan Miller) to the frustrating (Some Great Reward by Dave Thompson - see the constant use of "Fly On The Windshield") though it must of course be acknowledged that presenting a history of the band without the band being involved means that the author has to look at new ways of telling a well known story. With Faith & Devotion, renowned music writer Ian Gittins has taken on that challenge and has produced the most enjoyable Depeche Mode biography yet.
Faith & Devotion comes at a point in the band's history where we await news of any future plans. That means that the book is bang up to date, ending with the band's glorious concerts at the Waldbuhne in Berlin in July 2018, giving Gittins the chance to look at the band's entire history from day one to the present day. He presents a thorough examination of Depeche Mode in a style that is less reverential than previous biographies and the book is all the better for that. While he's clearly a fan, he's not frightened to point out the band's flaws (see his views on Exciter or Sounds Of The Universe) and it is that honest but in-depth look at the band that makes Faith & Devotion such an entertaining read.
To augment the magazine articles we've all seen and the books we've all read, Gittins has added his own interview material with new input from Miles Goosens, Mick Paterson and Douglas McCarthy and their involvement gives the book an edge that others don't have. There are more contributions from people who were at one time inside the Depeche inner circle than we've previously seen elsewhere and though they aren't many - this is a Depeche Mode book after all - they give parts of the DM tale a new, welcome edge.
Aside from the writing, the book contains a large number of wonderful photographs of the band through the ages. From the early dress sense disasters to Black Celebration's wall to wall leather via World Violation ending at Dave's still bewildering Spirit era pencil moustache, the visual side of the book is simply wonderful and a perfect compliment to the story being told.
Depeche Mode fans are very hard to please and, as I've learned many times, it's a brave person who takes on the challenge of writing about the band. With Faith & Devotion, Ian Gittins has produced a comprehensive and impressive Depeche biography, presenting a fresh look at the world's biggest underappreciated band. Whether you are either new to Depeche Mode or a long standing Devotee, Faith & Devotion is a wonderful read to help you pass the time until we all meet again in stadia and arenas around the world.
Depeche Mode Faith & Devotion by Ian Gittins is published by Palazzo on 5th September.
Purchase the book from Amazon here