"Who's that band you like again?"
"Oh yeah. I remember them. (sings) I Just Can't Get Enough. That was a great song. What happened to them?
"They're still going."
"Really? I thought they'd stopped years ago. (sings again ffs) I just can't get enough, I just can't get enough. I love 80's music like that"
Ok, an extreme reaction perhaps and not one we should end this all too frequent discussion with, but Just Can't Get Enough (note non DM fans - there is no I there) is, like it or not, one of the band's most famous songs. It's barely representative of the Depeche Mode we've come to love but, let's face it, it's a bloody good song and yet more evidence of Vince Clarke's pop song writing superpowers. It was also a massive hit in 1981 as we shall see.
JUST LIKE A RAINBOW - JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH
|The brief press release - picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group|
Just Can't Get Enough was released on 7th September 1981, creeping into the charts at number 44 twelve days later. It started to climb the following week, reaching number 24 before a Top Of The Pops appearance on 23rd September saw the song rocket to number 12. Could they breach the Top 10? Not immediately no, as the following week the single equalled New Life by reaching number 11. On October 7th however, Depeche breached the Top 10 for the first time with Just Can't Get Enough landing at number 8. The 23rd September Top Of The Pops appearance was then repeated on the show on 8th October. Surely the single would climb higher? Top 5 maybe? No, it dropped to 12, before sliding out of the charts via 17, 22, 33 and 46.
The single's reviews weren't all that great. Smash Hits said that it was a "less memorable but sound follow up to New Life," adding that it was "good for dancing." The magazine featured the lyrics to allow you to sing along with this good dance music:
Record Mirror gave the song Single Of The Week, proclaiming it "hugely enjoyable, bouncy and boppy and very close to irritating."
NME said that the single had "some lovely textures" adding "It's a slight but memorable song" which seems harsh, while Melody Maker stated, in its smartarse way, "I can, you will."
As we can see from the 23rd September Top Of The Pops, the public must have been initially charmed by this bunch of oddly, or in Martin's case barely, dressed individuals all armed with toy trumpets. Dave looks like he's just finished a shift at a local Italian restaurant, Fletch was clearly off out afterwards, Vince looks as if he dressed for the radio rather than the TV and Martin, well, Martin has somehow found the time to select a hat but not a shirt. We should have known that Mr Gore was going to be an interesting dresser from this point. The public quickly tired of Martin and co's looks, as the repeat TOTP performance saw the song drop out of the Top 10. Never mind. Just Can't Get Enough was a bona fide smash hit and deservedly so.
If you want an example of pure, unadulterated pop genius, Just Can't Get Enough is it. As with the previous two singles, there is a lot more going on here than first meets the eye. Behind the seemingly simple lyrics and melody is a lot of syntheszied cleverness and it's that attention to detail that makes this song and plenty of the other Speak & Spell era tracks stand out from their peers. Ultimately though, I can say as much as I want about Vince, Daniel and Eric Radcliffe's huge synth brains but the main point is this - Just Can't Get Enough is one of if not the best synthpop song of its era.
Despite moving on to bigger and darker things, Depeche Mode have never managed to outrun the song. They played it live on every tour from Speak & Spell to Music For The Masses and it only dropped out of the running during World Violation and the Devotional/Exotic/USA94 tours, returning for The Singles Tour in 1998. Think of 101 without it? It wouldn't be the same. The shot of D A Pennebaker being taken up the ramp by Dave to see the crowd first hand is one of the film's iconic moments. The song would certainly have sounded out of place in 1994, or at least sounded absolutely mental with whatever distorted guitar part Martin came up with for it, but, like it or not Just Can't Get Enough is a big hit at Depeche gigs. The fact it's been played live 613 times speaks to that.
It last turned up at the last gig of the Global Spirit Tour in 2018 and everyone, me included, lapped it up. Ultimately, a good song is a good song no matter how much you think Rush or Blasphemous Rumours etc etc should be there in its place.
The b-side is Any Second Now a quite wonderful instrumental full of those marvellous synth sounds that instrumentals then contained. The song of course would go on to feature on Speak & Spell as Any Second Now (Voices) so called because it had vocals. Clever stuff.
This is a new section as this was the first time Depeche Mode had ever filmed a video. It's an odd thing really, somehow moving between a bizarre leather clad "live" section complete with dancing girls, and a cocktail drinking section where the band dress quite appallingly and treat the dancers to a selection of terrifying looking drinks. Everyone finds time to tool around on some steps blowing plastic trumpets before an awkward ending where everyone mouths along to the lyrics pretending that they are actually saying "Just Can't Get Enough" to each other like four spies desperately saying a codeword over and over again in the hope the SAWT team finally break in and free them.
It's a video - it does what it needs to do. Is it any good? No, obviously not. Depeche Mode didn't do good videos until Shake The Disease as we'll see, but you'd rather have a bad video and a good song as opposed to a nonsensical video and a quite hideous and mid-bendingly overrated one wouldn't you? I mean Rio by Duran Duran there specifically or, if you like, any Duran Duran "song" ever.
The UK 7" single sleeve features at the top of this blog and the back of the 7" single is above. As you'll see, it says that Any Second Now features on the b-side. The a-side label looks like this:
and the b-side label, perhaps unsurprisingly, like this:
Depmod.com tells me that there are seven different variants of that record. I have no reason to doubt that.
There was a 12" too. As you can see from the picture above, the cover is different from the 7". Gone is the large white cat to be replaced by a man tied up and blindfolded. Lovely stuff. The 12" version of Just Can't Get Enough is the mighty Schizo Mix, a Depeche Mode do Kraftwerk reconstruction of the track that doesn't as much remix it as re-write it. It is marvellous and something everyone must hear.
The b-side of the 12" is a remix of the 7" b-side. Any Second Now (Altered) is very much an altered version of Any Second Now and it it just as enjoyable as its standard version. The 12" sleeve mirrors the 7" in that Just Can't Get Enough and Any Second Now have a side of the sleeve to themselves with the remix names added on the 12". As you can see, the cat reappears on the b-side of the 12" no doubt delighted to be far away from whatever the hell is going on with the bloke on the other side of the sleeve.
The 1991 UK CD single brought all four tracks together.
As ever, there were releases all over the world and some of these have gone on to become highly sought after with one of them being one of those seemingly insanely rare releases that drive collectors nuts. Firstly, we have an American release. This lovely 12" promo features the Schizo Mix and New Life (Remix):
There is also a US 7". There are not one but two German coloured vinyl versions of the record. As you can see, Just Can't Get Enough was once again proclaimed a Top Hit Aus England (and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland....) and the sleeve uses the 7" art rather than the UK 12" art. There are black vinyl 7" and 12" releases of course and the more common of the two coloured vinyl versions on white vinyl:
There is then also this - the grey vinyl version. It took me years to get hold of and to date it rarely appears for sale. If you want to buy one just now, it'll cost you £1,300 on Discogs. £1,300! That's nearly two Anton art books.
As ever, there is the lovely German CD single with the blue stripe:
The French CD single is a nice thing too:
There are of course other versions of the single available, including a lovely Japanese 7".
The cover is a work of art in itself. The Speak & Spell swan is there, regal and covered in what looks like clingfilm and Martin, Dave and Andy appear too, all cuddled up in a phone booth. We wouldn't actually see that phone booth until the next single so why is it on this sleeve? Well this single wasn't released in Japan until 26 June 1982 by which time Depeche were down to a trio.
On the B-Side, we get Just can't Get Enough (Schizo Mix) which is marvellous. We also get the lyrics in Japanese and English.
By the time Just Can't Get Enough dropped out of the charts, Depeche Mode were a confirmed Top 10 band and undertaking a successful UK tour. Suddenly though, everything changed when Vince's departure from the band was announced on 30th November. The genius behind their first three singles and most of the debut album was off. That would surely mean the end of Depeche Mode?
No, no it wouldn't. A new songwriter, previously only known for his topless, trumpet holding Top Of The Pops triumph would appear and Depeche Mode would become a very different band.
We'll talk about that next time. See You then. Ouch.
My conversations with non-DM fans usually end with one of us singing the JCGE synth-hook chorus as it’s more instantly recognisable than any lyric.
I’ve always assumed that it was the limitations of early mono-phonic keyboards that fuelled the need for synth-hooks to replace (guitar) chords. Being early adopters of this ‘synth-hook’ song writing approach, DM were simply following in the footsteps of pioneers Kraftwerk, OMD and ABBA!
Another good blog David. I’ve experienced the non-fan ‘ are they still going?’ many times. I’ve also had folk describe DM as one hit wonders. Random fact: I’ve never seen JCGE live ( actually I saw them do it on the black Celebration tour but I was only 12 so..) As soon as I hear the opening bars, that’s my cue to head to the toilet / bar / anywhere that isn’t watching them play it. It’s now a thing, After a few shows in a row, wifey can almost time her ‘ it’s your turn to get the drinks’ to perfection as the synths and percussion begin. I’m genuinely baffled at everyone’s love for the track. I will also never understand how they could wholeheartedly charge down the alleyway marked “POP” after recording such wondrous European synth gems as Ice Machine and Tora Tora Tora...is this what ultimately led them to a German barn holding chickens? All that considered, the grey vinyl is lovely.ReplyDelete