Tuesday, 13 April 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 24: ENJOY THE SILENCE

 


"Oh God, I've been dreading this one."
"I know. He's just going to bang on about Enjoy The Silence being the greatest song ever, a life changing event etc etc. We've heard it all before."
"Far too many times."

They're not wrong. Here's all you ever wanted, in fact, all you never needed to know about Enjoy The Silence.

ALL I EVER WANTED - ENJOY THE SILENCE


BONG8 excitedly announced the release of the greatest song in the history of recorded music (my words), telling readers that the new 12" single Enjoy The Silence from the forthcoming album Violator (never heard of it) would be released on 12th February 1990. A 7" was scheduled "to follow." The official release date was in fact 5th February 1990. and the single went down very well indeed, at least with the record buying public in the usually tone deaf to Depeche Mode UK.


Let's start with the NME. It awarded Enjoy The Silence Single Of The Week. The reviewer was joined by Steve Waddington and Jon Marsh of the temporarily and somewhat remarkably successful band The Beloved. Marsh, who would soon go on to remix World In My Eyes, saying that he thought it was Depeche Mode's "(b)est for a very long time." The NME reviewer called it a "brooding, tender piece" though wrongly mentioned it was the "first cut from their forthcoming album" which is rather unfair to Personal Jesus.


That's just a load of nonsense really though I suppose it does concede that the song is "utterly pleasant" which is something. I'm not sure what magazine it's from.


Simon Reynolds at Melody Maker said the song felt "very dated." Hmm.  Music Week's 3rd February edition praised the single. It said"

"The best Depeche Mode single in years heralds a return to the classic pop approach of their early Eighties hits like Everything Counts in contrast to the electro beat of recent recordings. The song itself is heavily to the fore here and strong enough perhaps to furnish the band with their first number one hit."

Sadly not. In America,  reviews were generally more positive. Billboard reviewed the single on 10th March, saying:

"Previewing the upcoming Violator album is a more radio-viable effort than the group's hard-won hit Personal Jesus. Track blends quintets recognisable techno-pop melodies with trendy house grooves"

Will we ever know who the fifth member of Depeche Mode was?  In his Dance Trax feature in Billboard's 17th March edition, Bill Coleman said "Technomeister Depeche Mode also brings that beat back with Enjoy The Silence...(t)he 12" continues to mark the band's venture to a more raw sound. The 'bass line' version is rather tasty." Tasty Technomesiters indeed.

1990 UK promotional postcard

The single was a solid gold HIT in Britain. It entered the charts at number 17 and roared to number 6 the following week. The band didn't appear on Top Of The Pops themselves, leaving the promo work to the incredible video. The single stayed at number 6 for the next two weeks but, because it was a non-mover, they didn't get any further airtime on the country's premier pop show and sadly got no higher. I'm sure that an appearance on the show would have seen the song climb the Top Ten even further and perhaps even hit number 1. From 6 however, it fell to 12, 20, 32, 52 and finally 62. Oh what could have been.

As we don't have a Top Of The Pops performance to enjoy, here is the band's November 1989 appearance on the German show Peter's Pop Show where they introduced Enjoy The Silence to the world. Interestingly (really?), they use the video mix with that stunning introduction. Sigh.


I've said it before, I'll say it again and eventually you will all stop listening, but Depeche Mode look and sound incredible at this point in their career. I'm not even going to try and hilariously pick apart that performance as every single bit of it is wonderful. Kudos to Alan for keeping the leatherometer ticking over.

The band promoted the sing in France too albeit with a performance filmed in America. On 24th March 1990 the band filmed this performance on the rooftop observation deck on Two World Trade Center for French show Champs Elysees:



As for the single itself, well in my well worn opinion, Enjoy The Silence is both Depeche Mode's finest single and indeed the finest single ever released. We all have that one song that we come back to, time and time again. I first heard Enjoy The Silence in my Mum's car on the radio and it instantly grabbed me. Phrases like "life changing" are spectacularly over the top when talking about music unless it's music that has cured a disease or something, but Enjoy The Silence had a massive impact on me, steering me in the direction of Depeche Mode and ultimately leading to me typing this sentence right now. Discovering Depeche Mode has led to me doing so many different things and meeting so many wonderful people and it's arguable that none of that would have happened without Enjoy The Silence. From the second I heard it I knew it and the band singing it were the song and band for me. 31 years later, I still feel the same and, as well as being a testimony to the majesty of this song, it's also a testimony to the power of music. 

It wasn't just me who liked Enjoy The Silence however - the band quite like it too. To date it has been performed at every main gig since World Violation with the exception of the Ultra parties. I say main gig to mean gigs on tours rather than promo gigs. In total, Depeche Mode have played Enjoy The Silence 872 times and Dave has sung the full choruses on 4 of those occasions. It is always a highlight of a show for me but I do wish Anton would drop the frankly horrific films he insists on using for the song. 

Dave has also played the song live with his band on the Paper Monsters tour but we've thankfully got no need to worry about that version here. Yikes.

The B-side to the single is haunting instrumental called Memphisto. It has never been played live and that is likely to remain the case. It's a lovely track though.

The Video



As the video starts, you mind is suddenly drawn from the blissful joy of the video-only mix of the song to the fact that your leatheromoter has exploded. Depeche Mode have achieved peak leather and there is no scale capable of accurately assessing it. Alan is almost entirely leather, including his hair, and the video almost creaks as you watch it. Dave snarls, the least threatening hardman of all time, and Fletch and Martin stare. What is going on here then?

Hang on. A rose! Wait - Alan's gone? There are two roses now. WHERE'S FLETCH? Another rose. NOW MARTIN HAS DISAPPEARED. DAVE HAS EATEN THE REST OF THE BAND

It's a very troubling start. Dave eats his band members then escapes, heading to Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire. As he is Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, he needs a disguise so he cleverly dresses as a King albeit a King wandering around the Queen's estate would stand out. He's got a deckchair though so he can hide under that if anyone sees him. We see shots of the beautiful scenery you find all over the best small country on earth before we return to the scene of the crime. 

The band reappear and perhaps Dave murdering his bandmates was all a dream. Everything is fine. The four of them are back together, dressed in black again and...wait a minute...Dave's standing behind Alan looking very angry and grabbing Alan's shoulder. Oh no.....

He's off again. Having been recognised by a Gamekeeper in Balmoral, Dave heads for Portugal and the beach. He finds himself on Prainha Beach in the Algarve with his trusty deckchair once again in hand. To blend in, he even disguises himself as a tree at one point, though no-one is convinced:


The middle section of the song sees us revisit the pre murder days and we see the band having a jolly good laugh. Dave as the King appears, spreading out his arms and that image is the last image the three bandmates saw before being devoured. There's then more leatheriness, a bit more Dave and we'ere back to Portugal where Dave remains on the run. We see a final few shots of his former bandmates before Dave flees to Switzerland to hide in the Alps, living out his remaining days on his deckchair wondering why he ate his bandmates.

Of course, that could all be bollocks. It could be said that the video for Enjoy The Silence is a remarkable thing and the exact point where Anton Corbijn got it spot on with Depeche Mode. A stunning video for a stunning song.

You decide.

The Formats


BONG18 the standard 7" featured the Single versions of Enjoy The Silence and Memphisto. Martin says that the B-side is the name of an imaginary film he created where Elvis featured as the devil. Of course it is. Let's just pause for a second too and admire the artwork. Simple, yet perfect in every respect.


The back of the 7" looks like this. Bear that DM logo in mind as we will see it again soon.


At this point, let's take a trip to Promo Corner. Here is the UK 7" promo for the single. As you will see, it has a large A on the A-Side. That is the sign that you have a promo version. One will occasionally pop up on Ebay with the seller unaware of the real value of the item you are selling. If you can't wait and want one now, head to Discogs and get ready to spend around £400.


The promo 12" P12BONG18 features three tracks, all remixes of Enjoy The Silence - Bass Line, Ricki Tik Tik Mix and the Single Version. The Ricki Tik Tik Mix on the promo 12" is different to the commercially released mix that appears on the limited edition 12" and CD single, as it features additional keyboard sounds. That version was released commercially when the Depeche Mode Singles Box Set featuring Enjoy The Silence was released in 2004. This 12" can currently be yours for £65 or so on Discogs.


The final promo item for now is the 3" promo CD, CDBONG18R. It features the two songs featured on the 7" single. There's one for sale on Discogs for £70 at the time of writing.


Back to normal releases. The cassette single, CBONG18, is a nice thing as you can see. It features the songs from the 7" repeated on both sides.


12BONG18 mirrors the 7" single art. Its A-side features the 7" Version and the marvellous Hands And Feet Mix.


The B-side contains the Ecstatic Dub version of Enjoy The Silence and another spooky but adorable instrumental called Sibeling. 


The standard CD single, CDBONG18 pictured above, is a 3" CD featuring the same four tracks as the 12" albeit the Hands And Feet Mix is in an edited form due to the capacity of the CD. It is 37 seconds shorter than the 12" version.  The Ecstatic Dub is also 9 seconds shorter than it 12" counterpart. That's one second for every inch of difference in format size - you can't fault the band's attention to detail. The single was reissued on 5" CD too featuring the same four tracks, down to the 3" edits. For some reason, I don't have that CD. Yet.


There were limited edition formats too starting with L12BONG18, the limited edition 12". This is my favourite Depeche Mode record of all time. The record above was the first Depeche record I ever bought while in London on a family holiday in 1990. My Mum won't fly, so getting to our ultimate holiday destination of Livorno in Italy was hard enough. We started off driving from Castle Douglas to Dumfries, then getting a train first to Carlisle and then to London where we spent a night. I managed to go record shopping and bought this record. I subsequently carried it with me from London to Dover (train), Dover to Calais (hovercraft) and then from Calais to Livorno. Going home, I carried it all the way back, finally playing it at home in Castle Douglas having been a pain in the arse and added unnecessary hassle to a family holiday (Dad - "Would you put that bloody record down?"). Those memories however, and the memories of 1990's Depeche Mode discovery, make me very happy indeed.


I see I rambled on a bit there. Here is the rear of the L12. Also, some pressings of the 12" came with a black sticker that says Depeche Mode Limited Edition Remix on it.


LCDBONG18 is another three incher and it features the same four tracks as the L12: the Bass Line, Harmonium and Ricki Tik Tik versions of Enjoy The Silence and Memphisto. Harmonium is a version that is very close to Martin's original demo and is hauntingly beautiful. I used to put it on mixtapes thinking I was being really clever when, in fact and bloody obviously when you think about it, all people wanted to do was hear the actual song and not some obscure remix. 


Just when you thought we had been given enough formats, an advert like the one above appeared in the music press. What on earth was this? A one sided 15 minute remix with an etched B-Side? Come again? It was this glorious thing:


XL12BONG18. Now, we (and by "we," I automatically exclude any normal people) had been used to L12's and LCD's in the Depeche Mode release world, but what wizardry was an XL12 and XLCD? Well, it was apparently an extra limited release featuring a mix in four parts called The Quad: Final Mix, a 15 minute (actually 15 minutes 27 seconds) remix of Enjoy The Silence. Nearly as mad as the legendary Everything Counts Filofax pack, this was a truly odd yet marvellous way to round off the multi format madness of Enjoy The Silence. The sleeve is wonderful (remember that DM we mentioned earlier) and the inner sleeve a delight.


What is The Quad:Final Mix then? 4 remixers take charge and remix the single as they see fit, with Paul Kendall having the job of putting all four together. It's not a mix you would put on at a party, but it's still something quite remarkable. The first part is along the lines of the 12" mixes already released and is quite brilliant. At 3 minutes 26 seconds, an alarm clock sounds and the song takes off in a different direction entirely, experimental but interesting and then, all of a sudden, 6 minutes 28 seconds in, everything slows down and the song becomes an orchestral piece. It is beautiful. The orchestral section mixed by Gareth Jones and Mimi Kobayashi was actually released on its own on a Mute compilation album called International : Compilation Mute in 1993. The fourth part of The Quad begins at 10 minutes 41 seconds and ends on a high with a booming final section. What an odd but fantastic release.


The rear cover is wonderful too, echoing both standard 12" and CD singles PLUS the postcard I showed you earlier. If you are like me, and I presume most of you reading this are indeed that or even worse, then this can never fail to make you smile. The etching on the unplayable b-side is beautiful too as I hope the picture above shows. In many ways, this is an almost pointless, vanity release, but to be perfectly honest, I'd have bought it even if it didn't include a record.


There was also a CD release too with no etched b-side, but with a black 3" CD as you can see above. If you'll permit me one last wander down memory lane, this CD single is a wonderful example of how not to collect any band, let alone Depeche Mode. Back in 1990, I would go into Dumfries with my friends Stuart, Jamie and John and we'd trawl the record shops. At the end of one of these days, we went to Domino Records next to our bus stop. Both the XL12 and XLCD were on sale in that shop for 99p each. Rather than buy both, I bought the 12" and some chips. Many years later, I paid around £30 for the CD. Ok, at the age of 16, collecting was hardly at the forefront of my mind, but the chips instead of XLCDBONG18 decision remains one of my worst of all times, at least from an economic point of view.


The 2004 box set CD brought all the mixes together including The Quad:Final Mix. The Ricki Tik Tik Mix on there is the one from P12BONG18 and the Hands And Feet Mix and Ecstatic Dub are the 3" CD edits.

Oddly, Enjoy The Silence wasn't released in a huge number of countries and, in those that it was released in, the vinyl formats are fairly standard. Only France and Germany for example got the full 3 12" treatment. The CD single formats are the more interesting releases from around the world. Allow me to sap what remains of your will to live with a quick run through some of them.


Germany had three 3" releases. Here's the lovely blue version of CDBONG18. I particularly like the fact they use the Depeche Mode font on the CD as well as the sleeve. There are four variants of this. The most sought after seems to be the one with fan club info inside the sleeve. These things matter. Also, the full verson of the Hands And Feet Mix and Ecstatic Dub are present here.


Here's the German LCDBONG18. Again, nice CD font work.


Finally, the German XLCDBONG18 complete with non-exciting font.


The French had 3 CDs too, all on 5" format. They feature a rather nice DM on them as on the French CDBONG18 above.


The French LCD equivalent is similarly nice.


France got an XLCDBONG18 version too. Nice, but I prefer the look of the 3" versions.


The Belgian CDBONG18 version is a 5" CD too AND it features the full versions on the German 3" 


The Belgian LCD version is on 5". There is also a Belgian XLCDBONG18 on 5" but I don't have that. I was sure I did too.


The Brazilian CD single is very nice. Good font use and a grey colour which is pleasing. Same tracks as CDBONG18.


The American promo CD features the Single Mix, Hands And Feet Mix and Bass Line mixes of Enjoy The Silence.


The American maxi single features the 8 tracks from the two 12" singles. The first edition of it comes in a curious slipcase. It's cardboard on the outside and contains a plastic disc holder inside. You pull the CD up and out of it.


The re-release came in a standard jewel box.


Next to Japan where we have this odd chao, As you will see, it is very much NOT FOR SALE. This exists because of an error in a Japanese release of Violator. That release came with an 8 track Enjoy The Silence CD single but the Ecstatic Dub featured twice, kicking off the Hands And Feet Mix. This promo CD was then released to make up for this error. The text on the front apparently says:

"Dear customer,
Thanks you for purchasing the DM/Violator limited boxset. We are terribly sorry for the inconvenience, but due to a manufacturing mistake the second track on the box set's bonus CD differs from what it is indicated as. Please kindly accept this corrected version in exchange."


Finally, Japan gave us another snap pack CD, This features the same two tracks as the Uk 7". The packaging is glorious.


The CD is a 3 inch CD


If you want one, there's one on Discogs just now for £379. They don't turn up very often.


I tried to get through this without blubbering on about how much I love this song but it was impossible. Enjoy The Silence was a landmark song for Depeche Mode and, as well as restoring them to their rightful place in the UK Top Ten, it was a global hit and helped give Violator the momentum it needed to make it the huge global hit it became.

Peak Depeche Mode and a time when they got everything right. Enjoy The Silence was the point all the stars aligned for the band leading to them becoming a very big deal indeed.

Next time, it's Policy Of Truth.

4 comments:

  1. it is very difficult to pick a favourite song, but this could just be it ..... maybe ... but regardless you have done it more than justice :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You tell us (almost...) all we ever wanted about this song. Maybe can I add the name of some artists who tried to cover it : Tori Amos, Keane, Suzanne Boyle, Failure, DMK. And 2 french artists : Carla Bruni and, my all time favorite, Moriarty.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mate, your blog is a joy to read! Long-time viewer, can't wait for the Kevorkian majesty that is Policy of Truth. Magic!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The reason for the CD single CDBONG18 having edited version of the songs is not due to length - the 3" European CDs have the full version and is over 20 minutes in total. The reason is because at the time of release, singles had to be under 20 minutes to qualify for the UK charts. The Euro versions of course didn't apply in this case. The same applied to the following two singles from Violator. The remixes and extra formats of course could be longer as only the first 3 formats were eligible for chart inclusion.

    ReplyDelete