Friday 19 February 2021



The third and final single released from an album as the tour in support of that album winds down might not seem that important. Everyone that will buy the record has bought it and the single will only really be of interest to collectors who need to have everything associated with the band.

A Question Of Time was released on 11th August 1986 and at that point there were only two dates left on the Black Celebration tour. Despite this odd release date, A Question Of Time is a hugely significant moment in Depeche Mode's history, not because of the music, but because of the video.

Enter Anton Corbijn, and enter the previously unknown concept of artistic credibility. The video review sections are going to be dull for the next few singles. Let's see if we can find something else to laugh at instead.


The Single

A Question Of Time was released having been remixed, the single version of BONG12 being a slightly jauntier version than the album mix. There was a Remix Edit of the remix too but we'll come on to that and how to spot it later on. Yes, that's right - I will be providing examples of how to find out if you have the promo 7" with the Remix Edit on it. I like to provide as full a service as I can. You lot read this voluntarily - imagine what my wife, my family and friends have to put up with.

The NME gave the single a fairly snide review:

"Remixed and remodelled, 'A Question Of Time' is an anthem: Depeche Mode's answer to Big Country. It just stutters on in frantic waves of guitar and synth keyboard. Depeche Mode's fans seem to crave for a diet of rigid, thrashing beats. That being so, 'A Question Of Time' is neither here nor there. It's just yet another Depeche Mode single."

"Synth keyboard" eh?  Number 1 Magazine was a bit kinder:

I did always wonder why there were two singles that were both A Question Of something but that's the sort of thing I expect you all thought about too.

The single was released on 11th August 1986 and entered the UK charts at number 25 on the 23rd of that month. The band's appearance on Top Of The Pops (above) on 20th August saw it leap to a chart high of 17 the following week. The band had of course wrapped up the Black Celebration tour but that didn't stop them performing their promo duties. There is much to admire in this performance. Firstly, they use the big keyboard stands are the of thing I like. You might too. Secondly, let's pause and enjoy Alan in his post-tour, suntanned, distinctly non leather look, with the Wilder Leather Scale only reaching 11% here (leather socks). In football parlance, hes' already on the beach. Fletch meanwhile has already started transforming from the blonde mid 80's Fletch to the Music For The Masses Fletch which is a joy. You can see him becoming more serious right before your eyes. Dave is changing in the same way too - the 101 haircut is nearly there, the fresh faced Gahan now more worldly wise. They didn't know it at the time but they were on the point of making it very, very big indeed.

Martin no longer has the Exploding Hairdo and he is almost fully clothed. There's obviously some bondage type gear and he appears to be wearing a pair of tights on his top half. A bold look but why the hell not eh? God bless you Martin.

The peaked at 17 and then fell to 20, 33, 42 and finally 68 before time was called and it disappeared forever.

As for the song itself, I think we can all agree that A Question Of Time is an outstandingly good track. Only Depeche Mode could come up with a song that sounds like this and that is why we love them. It's a perennial live favourite too, having featured a mammoth 836 times in live sets. The only tours it hasn't featured on since 1986 are the Devotional and Exciter tours. Every time I write one of these blogs, the single I'm writing about didn't feature on the Exciter tour. It did have The Dead Of Night and the backing singers doing the driving mime dance to Never Let Me Down Again however so it's quite understandable that better songs wanted nothing to do with it. This song has really changed over the years when the band have played it live. The 101 version is outstanding of course and the Exotic version a tad too trying to hard to be loud. The rest are fine and always worth a jump around. I remember my glasses falling to the floor at the NEC in Birmingham on Touring The Angel as me and my mates kept about like idiots to this. Thankfully, and miraculously, I picked them up unharmed. 

The B-Side to the single is an oddly clunky version of Black Celebration recorded at the NEC in Birmingham on 10th April 1986. It's good of course, any version of Black Celebration is, but it lacks the urgency of say the 101 version. 

The Video

Gone are the milkmen and spacehoppers. Goodbye to pie eyed people and oddball voodoo floating heads. Depeche Mode finally found a video director who could give their music a visual edge that it had been lacking. Anton Corbijn took control at this point and while his more recent work might be criticised for either being a bit lazy or just genuinely baffling (the Enjoy The Silence projection on the Delta Machine tour for example), he gave Depeche Mode a much needed boot in the visual arse (erm...) and, for the next few years, his videos and artwork became a crucial part of the Depeche Mode message.

A Question Of Time is textbook Anton basically. A storyline that bears no resemblance to the song, black and white footage and a sense of this being a film he meant to make about something else but ultimately attached it to a Depeche Mode song. Alan is the star of the video, patiently awaiting the delivery of a baby from a really weird looking guy driving a motorcycle and side car. Thankfully there's plenty of really rather exciting looking footage from the US gigs on the Black Celebration tour to distract us from this very odd concept.  30 seconds in for example, we see a delighted Fletch perfecting his walk around the keyboards and mic but never touch them dance moves. Glorious. We then see the odd motorbike man pick a baby up from beside the road, quickly move past the many questions that throws up and once again lose ourselves in live footage, pretending that everything is ok.

Suddenly, Alan appears. He was the only band member who got up at 5am for the shoot so he's the star. Thanks to the outrageously good work of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group, we know that the shots of Alan were filmed at Faulkner House, Telegraph Road, Santa Paula, California. Next time you're there, kidnap a baby and recreate the video yourself.

We then get more of the same really. Some thrilling tour footage (genuinely - it looks incredible), more strange kidnap man driving and Alan hanging around waiting for his, erm, delivery. The footage of Martin from the live show sees him wearing the tights top again but this time with a pair of handcuffs around each nipple or thereabouts. Of course.

Two minutes 50 seconds in, Alan finally receives the baby he ordered and the odd man heads off leaving a very tanned Alan alone in his big house. We move inside and are relieved to find that Depeche Mode have in fact started a creche and all four of our heroes take it in turns looking after the baby. For once, Dave is the worst dressed - that crop top is hideous but mercifully not quite at same level as the Master And Servant sandals.

More live footage is interspersed with footage of the band, unusually in white, holding the baby in front of a projection of a clock (oh yes. the literal interpretation of lyrics thing wasn't over yet), the baby crawling about on a clock mat, the motorbike criminal crashing and, WHAT'S THIS, Martin laughing as the child pulls what is left of the Exploding Hairdo.

What on earth is that all about eh? Who cares? It's bloody marvellous.

The Formats

7BONG12 (above) features the two tracks mentioned above. The A-Side label should look like this:

Courtesy of

My one is blank however.  The B-Side looks like this:

The labels are really nice and the question mark on them and the rear sleeve is a nice touch. I don't quite get the front sleeve art which appears to show a girl looking in to the mirror of a crashed car but there you go.

I mentioned earlier that there is a Remix Edit available too. This came out on 7"and there seems to be a way of finding out which one you have if your sleeve isn't adorned with a Ferret & Spanner promo sticker. The Remix Edit is, unsurprisingly, an edited version of the Remix that features on the standard 7". Here is a photo comparing both versions (yes, I did this):

The promo version is on the right, As you can see, the inner groove is larger than on the standard 7" on the left, meaning that the track is shorter and is therefore the Edit. The fact my standard 7" has a black label and thus looks like a white label (but isn't) is a needlessly complicating factor. Basically, if you want the Edit 7", be prepared to study photos on Ebay etc. I did that and I got it for a fiver, There are other ways to identify the promo including by looking at the colour and position of the label on the B-Side. If you are ever in doubt, seek help at

Talking of promos, we are now firmly in the era of the promo 12". There were two for this release. Above, we have the standard 12BONG12 promo which has a lovely hand stamped label and features the four songs on the standard 12", more of which shortly.

There is also a numbered 12" promo for L12BONG12 which again features the tracks we'll talk about shortly. My own one is number 1011, one digit too long sadly. You know why.

12BONG12 features a remixed, but not extended, version of the 7" cover art. Original pressings have the words Extended Remix a greay stripe, later ones in a white stripe. The Extended Remix of A Question Of Time is well worth your time - a superb, thumping take on the track. 

The B-Side takes the live version of Black Celebration from the April gig at the NEC and adds enjoyable live versions of Stripped and Something To Do from the same concert. Again, the artwork is rather nice and the labels quite lovely.

There was of course a limited edition 12". L12BONG12 has a question mark based sleeve and label. As you can see, the words "limited edition" appear in the top right of the front sleeve. The pressing above is the second pressing as the words are printed on the sleeve. First pressings had the words on a sticker:

Rather wonderfully, that trick was repeated in the Black Celebration The 12" Singles boxset. There are two tracks on Side A. Firstly the rather odd but actually quite good New Town Mix of A Question Of Time which leads into the apparent Live Remix of the track. It seems to be so named because the lead riff is played using a different and quite odd sound.

The B-Side is great. There's the Black Tulip Mix of Black Celebration, a quite glorious thing, and a thundering live version of the ice cream demanding More Than A Party recorded at the NEC. 

The 1991 UK CD is a cracker. It was the first of this series that I bought and I was obsessed with it back then. It features all the tracks from the three vinyl releases, turning the two tracks from Side A of L12BONG12 into one. It was like that on the record really as track one ran into track 2, but here it's called A Question Of Time New Town Mix/Live Remix. So there you go.

Elsewhere, once again we have a red vinyl 7" from Germany.

It features the same tracks as the UK single.

The first of two coloured vinyl 12" singles is this lovely marbled version.

It's just like 12BONG12 and features the same four tracks.

The German L12 comes in this stark but rather smashing grey vinyl as well as the standard black version.

It co-ordinates rather nicely with the colour of the question mark on the cover and, of course, features the same four songs as L12BONG12.

Unlike most of the other German blue stripe CDs (the three ...And Live Tracks and Blasphemous Rumours aside), this CD single came in a jewel box and features booklet inlay albeit blank on the other side. It takes the tracks from 12BONG12 and adds A Question Of Time Remix for good measure.

There are a few interesting French releases. Their 12" (above) has a different sleeve to the UK version.

It features the same tracks as 12BONG12.

There are three variations of the French CD single - two that are in jewel cases and one in a numberedd cardboard sleeve as pictured above. It features the same tracks as the German CD single. There is also a French cassette single which is rare but not too pricey.

I discovered when preparing for this that I also have a Spanish 12" which you can see above. No idea when I got that. Anyway, it features the 12BONG12 tracks.

As I mentioned in the A Question Of Lust blog, there is an American 12" which is half A Question Of Lust and half A Question Of Time - the vinyl equivalent of a half and half football scarf. The A Question Of Time half here features the Extended Remix and the live version of Something To Do.

As Depeche Mode were becoming a much bigger thing, this single was released in a lot of countries so there are a lot of variations to hunt down. The Italian 7" with its unique sleeve is well worth hunting for, as long as you get behind me in the queue.

The Black Celebration tour had ended and it saw Depeche Mode become a band who played big venues everywhere.  A Question Of Time may feel a bit like an afterthought given its release date but it allowed everyone to experience the new, powerful live Depeche Mode through the live tracks on the various releases and through tantalising glimpses on the video.

What would Depeche Mode do next though? How would they build on this success? Surely they wouldn't bin the successful production team and instead team up with someone new? 

Of course they would. Having done so, they'd release an album that ended up being ironically titled, suddenly become a gargantuan band, make an epic film and fill an American stadium. Simple eh? Oh yes, they kept the video chap around too.

There were many highs and lows on the way to that though and we'll look at the strange ones next time.

Strangelove in other, less convoluted words.


A quick note. An incredible amount of you have got in touch saying how much you're enjoying this project. Thank you so much for that. It really means an awful lot.

Friday 12 February 2021


As Depeche Mode embarked upon their first full UK arena tour, a new single appeared. Like Somebody, this song featured Martin on vocals and, as we'll see, Dave was once again relegated to a Bez like role in the video.

A Question Of Lust would see the band fail to make an impact on the charts, release a single on a new format (Depeche Mode) and give us all the chance to almost see Martin naked.

What more could you want eh? Oh yes - Alan kissing someone on the cover of the single. Is it Alan though? Would anyone care? This is Depeche Mode - of course people cared. All this and more, though not in the Martin sense, will be revealed below.


The Single

With unrestrained enthusiasm, the top of the third page of the April 1986 Depeche Mode Information Service newsletter said NEW RELEASE. It went on to list the tracks that would appear on the new single A Question Of Lust which was due to come out on 14th April. As with Stripped, BONG11 would appear on 7" and 12" and, repeating the Stripped trick, the 12" would be a 5 track affair though the running time was sadly omitted from the announcement. 

Reviews of the single were relatively positive. Smash Hits said:

"With a "provocative" word in the title and a couple snogging on the cover, one would expect this record to be at least slightly "steamesque" and pervy. But no. They don't take any of their clothes off at all! Once the black electro clanks of the intro have settled down, we are presented with a floating, melancholic tune and a wheezing, breathy voice that's singing about "love" not "lust" (a word employed solely to rhyme with "trust" and "dust"). Moody and pretty but entirely saucefree. What a swindle!"

Nunber 1 Magazine were fans too:

"On first hearing, this sounds like it should never have been released as a single, but a few plays later and the first fully fledged DM ballad really begins to have an effect. It's a s-l-o-w, hauting track, mournful without being depressing and more proof of their increasing maturity. A nice twist to all the usual love songs, too. 4 stars"

David Quantick at Melody Maker got it all so very wrong though, even down to the identity of the singer:

"Like unwilling bedfellows thrown together by sheer happenstance, Depeche Mode and yours truly meet for the third time on the singles page. Each successive release convinces me afresh that the only factor impeding this groups' ascent to ultrastardom is the unrelenting glumness of singer Dave Gahan. A less oafish reviewer would recognise his juiceless tones for the affirmation of his sensitivity they obviously are; I hear a pretty good song, which incorporates the swelling grandiosity of Godley and Creme's "Cry", rendered stultifying by Gahan's pallid murmer."

Sounds seemed to suggest Depeche Mode's best days had passed:

"After a series of, shall we say, disappointing singles, the Deps have wheeled out a more moody, atmospheric track than many of late. While their golden period seems to have vanished in the haze, this shows that at least their emotion hasn't deserted them too. Walks along the towpath of your auditory canal rather nicely, yet sadly never releases the floodgates."

The Deps indeed. 

Despite the fact the band were actually in Britain when the single was released, they didn't appear on Top Of The Pops perhaps due to the song entering at a lowly number 29. The next week it sprang up the charts to 28 from where it fell to 30, 41 and then 71 before the charts make the stupid mistake of letting it go (if you know what I mean). This was their lowest chart placing since Dreaming Of Me.

We have no Top Of The Pops to laugh at so instead, let's zip forward to the 23rd of July and this birthday cake fuelled performance on Japanese TV show Yoru No Hit Studio Deluxe.

There's a lot to take in here. The band's introduction at one minute or so in is sensational. A group of Japanese women applaud them as they descend the stairs to an incredibly jaunty studio band version of A Question Of Lust. I wish, no I demand, that this version is used on the next tour. Once they finally appear, Martin, who is naturally wearing some sort of bondage thing and a pair of handcuffs, is presented with a bouquet of flowers what with it being his birthday. Sartorially, the rest are dressed as you'd expect with Alan having a fairly low leather percentage of around 46%. 

At two minutes in, a birthday cake is wheeled out and a visibly embarrassed and perhaps slightly refreshed Martin looks on. Fletch finds the whole thing hilarious and rightly so knocking Martin's hat over his head at one point and then lifting him up at the end as Alan kisses our birthday boy. Inexplicably, Martin takes a few steps back and then runs at the cake to blow the candles out. He's only wee so that fails. Dave, being the responsible lead singer, takes control and quietly deals with the remaining candles. By this stage, no-one seems to know what is going on. It's not the See You chicken episode by any means, but it's very odd.

There's then an interview which seems to amuse Fletch greatly. The song finally begins with Dave on drums and Martin sings, dancing as if he really, really, needs to go for a pee. Alan batters away on a set of metal pipes from time to time and Fletch plays his keyboards enthusiastically.

It's a unique Depeche Mode moment and one well worth watching. Thanks to Moto for the upload. Do check out his other Depeche videos too by the way.

A Question Of Lust may not have lit up the charts, but it's become a live favourite. It's been performed 402 time initially featuring on every date of both the Black Celebration and Music For The Masses tours. It returned in 1993 and 1994 before appearing in varying degrees on all subsequent tours with the exception of the Exciter tour. The 101 version remains a favourite of mine just in case that sort of information is of any use to you.

The B-Side is yet another Martin and Alan co-write. Christmas Island is a remixed version of the Slade classic Merry Christmas Everybody with Fletch on vocals and Dave on lead guitar. Alternatively, and actually, it is a quite marvellous booming instrumental full of the sort of satisfying noises Depeche Mode specialised in around that time. This was the song that was the Pimpf of the Black Celebration tour and the tape was started with that 74 times. It's not featured live since, not even at gigs around Christmas time when its festive....oh wait. Never mind.

The Video

In an era where videos were becoming almost as important as anything else when it came to selling singles, you needed to make an impression. Oafish bands like Duran Duran would spend ridiculous sums on videos like Wild Boys for example, though that was no doubt more to distract you from the sheer horror of the music. With A Question Of Lust, Depeche Mode chose to make an impression by showing a drunk, naked Martin standing on a table while his bandmates attempt to once again get him to put his clothes on. Only the head of security man Andre, some well placed postcards and a bouncing Fletch stop us from seeing Little Martin. Thank you Andre and co. Martin then leaps onto Fletch's back and everyone tries to move on from there.

The pissed up nude message is perhaps inspired by the "I need to drink more than you seem to think" line in the song but as the next line doesn't say "Before I get my kit off again in a club, yes I know I said I wouldn't do that again, this IS the last time honestly" that's unlikely.  I wonder how many times a naked Martin jumped onto Fletch's back on the Black Celebration tour? As there were 76 dates, I reckon at least 77 times, if you include the post rehearsal piss up that inevitably happened. 

From there, the vocals kick in and we see a contrite Martin pretending none of the night before happened. Dave Bez Gahan then appears, slapping away on a tambourine as Martin croons in the background and then all of a sudden....

We are on-stage! The glorious Black Celebration tour set appears as Martin sings the chorus and Alan bangs away on that odd metal sun thing quite marvellously. Martin is very conservatively dressed which is oddly disappointing. The camera reveals a crowd and so, we have an actual filmed in front of a live audience video on the go. It was filmed at the band's April 2nd gig at the RDS in Dublin and the outdoor shots of Dave "Tambourine" Gahan were filmed the following day south of Dublin. 

We get a few tantalising glimpses of actual tour footage and then we're outside again for the next verse with Dave and Martin now joined by Alan (76% leather, hair medium to high) playing some metal xylophone thing with hammers naturally. He is then seen hitting a drum before we return to the RDS and the live set up.

It continues to veer between outdoor and indoor shots from there really. We see Dave with a drum, Alan playing some bottles and Fletch playing a xylophone in the most aggressive way anyone has ever approached that instrument. 

Just when you think it's done, the Basildon Boyzone reappear, this time joined by Dave. All four members stand in a line ringing bells and it's really very, very odd.  It does eventually end, on a shot of Dave in front of a rapturous Dublin crowd.

It's not the band's best video but by far from the worst. The tour footage is what saves it here.

The Formats

7BONG11 features the two tracks we mentioned earlier. The sleeve photo shows a couple kissing and one German fan was enraged, contacting German magazine Bravo to ask why this woman had been allowed to kiss Alan. Happily for her, the magazine did some pre-internet detective work and found it that it was a bloke called Gary who was embracing the woman (called Nikki incidentally). Whether Gary had a high hairdo and wore nothing but leather clothes from 1984-1988 was not confirmed.

The rear sleeve shows the band on the stairs at Hansa Studios. I've been there and recreated that and most, if not all, of you who are reading this and have been to Hansa have done the same. Quite right too. The labels of the 7" are lovely with their big fat lettering and the logo appearing on the front and on the A on the A-Side label is one of the Black Celebration cover logos. The one with the arrow pointing to the explosion. I have no idea how that relates to lust or indeed questions about lust.

As I mentioned earlier, 12BONG11 is a 5 track affair. Side A (above) features the single version of A Question Of Lust and Christmas Island (Extended). As you might expect it's a longer, remixed version of the B-Side and very enjoyable it is too.

The B-Side artwork shows Nikki pulling away from Gary's embrace having just learned that he is only in fact an Alan Wilder impersonator. She had noticed that his socks weren't leather and quickly worked it out. There are three tracks on the B-Side. Firstly, a live version of People Are People from 30th November 1984 in Basle which is rather nice and that's followed by another Depecheoke special, an instrumental of It Doesn't Matter Two. I don't know how many times I've sung along with that. Finally, we have the Minimal mix of A Question Of Lust by Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones. 

This advert appeared - what on earth was going on? All of a sudden, Depeche Mode had released a new format - the cassette single. Cassette singles weren't new of course. They'd been around for a while but at that point in time, they were fairly rare. The idea with a cassette single was that you could slip it in your pocket to pop into your Walkman. Never afraid to take on logic, Depeche released theirs in a packet slightly larger than a 7" single and stuck a booklet and a badge in too.

It's a really nice package. The front of CBONG11 features a checklist that confirms your cassette, booklet and badge are contained inside and it lists the tracks you're about to listen to. It also confirms that this is a limited edition. Side A features the wonderful Flood Mix of A Question Of Lust and Christmas Island. It should have been called Minimal Mix. Apparently Mute forgot to send him all the multi-track tapes so half of the single's sounds are missed off as he didn't have access to them in the first place. The "Full Colour 5 Page Booklet"  features photos of our heroes relaxing and Martin is of course naked from the waist up. The badge is a nice touch too, a question mark with the word Lust imposed over it. Finally, the lyrics to all five songs on the cassette (well four really - Christmas Island and all that) also feature.

Yes, I have an opened one and a sealed one. What else did you expect? The pack is sealed with magical dM sticker which I ruined first time round when I was just a normal fan and not the oddball I now am collecting a stack of things I never play. The rear of the booklet is displayed above, The 3 tracks on the B-Side were all recorded live in Basle on 30th November 1984 - Shame, If You Want and Blasphemous Rumours. They are all ace.

Brilliantly, the Black Celebration 12" Singles box turned this cassette single into a 12". It is a magical thing and I wrote about it and photographed it here - click.

The single was given a digital overhaul in 1991 of course. It only features the 7" and 12" tracks.

Did the Germans give us any coloured vinyl? Of course they did. First up, we have the red 7"

You know how it goes - same tracks as 7BONG11

The coloured vinyl version of 12BONG11 is another marbled vinyl.

The same tracks as feature on 12BONG11 populate its marbled goodness.

There was no cassette single in Germany but who needs a cassette single when you can have this outrageous yellow vinyl version? It is an absolute stunner. As the checklist on the front confirms, and as you can see yourself, it includes a booklet. They clearly didn't feel the need to indicate that it also included the record. There is no badge however.

It features the same five tracks as CBONG11 with the A-Sides on the A-Side and the B-Sides right where you'd expect them. It's fairly hard to get hold of now and it'll set you back at least £120 on Discogs,

The blue stripe CD features the 12BONG11 tracks.

The French CD single was highly sought after for many years as, until 2004, it was the only place you could get your hands on a digital version of the Flood Mix. Even today it is still pricey - there is one currently on Discogs for £74 or so

A Japanese 7" is available in standard and promo form, The standard one is pictured. It has a shiny inseet which shows the 7BONG11 front and back pictures on one side.

The other side features the lyrics and a picture of the birthday boy and his bandmates.

The single was only released on 7" in the US, though this promo 12" featuring an edited version of a Robert Margouleff remix appeared. A Question Of Lust then featured as half of a 12" when A Question Of Time was released in the US.

This is the rear of that 12". The only track it features from this single release is the Minimal mix of A Question Of Lust, wrongly named Extended Version here.

A Question Of Lust is an odd one really. It's a superb song but failed as a single. It had a nice new format and excellent tracks across all releases and has ultimately proved very collectible. It's turned into a much loved live song and it's one of my, many people's, favourite Martin sung songs. 

This video was something of a landmark though. No, not because we nearly saw Martin's tadger, but because it was the last time for a long time that the band used anyone other than one director.

Enter Anton Corbijn. Next time, we'll have a look at A Question Of Time, the point that Depeche Mode suddenly gained visual credibility.

The usual videos section is about to get a lot shorter.