Friday 23 April 2021



Three weeks before World Violation kicked off, a third single from Violator appeared. Policy Of Truth is a song loved by most Depeche Mode fans but disliked by a strangely high number.

Why is that? Why is Policy Of Truth the bar/toilet song of choice for some gig going Depeche Mode fans? What is wrong with them? (apologies if you have a condition that forces you to go to the bathroom a lot and it always happens to be during this song. I had no idea).

Do they have something to hide? Well, no, that's just a very obvious way of ending this bit before starting the real thing. Policy Of Truth is an overlooked classic - let me deliver the proof.


The Single

Policy Of Truth, BONG19, was released on 7th May 1990 in only five formats. Chart rules had changed since Enjoy The Silence's eight format bonanza, leaving collectors to outwardly grumble, but inwardly breathe a sigh of relief.  After the relatively joyous reception given to Enjoy The Silence, the music press of the United Kingdom returned to form and gave Policy Of Truth a hard time.

Melody Maker kicked things off with this rubbish. It's hard to know where to begin here. OK, Policy Of Truth may not be everyone's cup of tea, but words like "ineffectual" and "lardy" are somewhat over the top. The decision to call Francois Kervorkian a tosser is also baffling to say the least. The remarkable thing is that, in its review of Violator, the same publication had called Policy Of Truth "one of five potential singles" that was "based around a sadistic, cynical electro-riff," adding that it "oozes with genuine danger." Hardly ineffectual then. 

No doubt imagining that a music press besotted with The KLF would embrace a beautiful gatefold 12" where Depeche Mode were remixed by that band, Mute sent copies to the British music press in the naive hope of glorious wall-to-wall praise. That didn't work did it? It was deemed "f***ing boring" in the NME. Marvellous.

You can always rely on Smash Hits. Not only did its 2nd May edition provide the lyrics, but Mike Soutar also gave the single a glowing review saying:

"Have you noticed how the Mode always have the most bizarre song titles in pop? Master & Servant, Shake The Disease, Strangelove and now Policy Of Truth. This has much to do with Martin Gore who writes the tunes and who, it is well documented, is a bit mad. As usual the title of this one doesn't have much to do with the lyrics themselves which, in turn, don't make much sense (well nothing I could work out anyway) but in the proud tradition of Mode singles (especially the last two, Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence from their lastest LP), this is a thumpingly good dancefloor stomper."

Let's leave aside the obvious criticisms there and enjoy the good review. Away from the UK, The Boston Globe in its Violator review of 19th March said that Policy Of Truth was "(O)ne of the album's better songs...thanks to an alluring synth line tipped by a sliding bass note - a tiny infectious hook courtesy of Gore's treated guitar." Quite specific but ultimately positive.

The single entered the UK charts on 19th May at number 28. Following a showing of the video on Top Of The Pops, it leapt to number 16 the following week but climbed no higher. It slipped to 18, 30, 51 and finally it was too late to change events and the song hit 70 before disappearing forever. It was a very disappointing performance after Enjoy The Silence but the lack of an in-studio appearance no doubt hindered the single's progress. In America, the single climbed to number 15 on the Billboard chart making it the only Depeche Mode single to chart higher in America than in Britain. Amaze your friends and lovers with that fact and watch as they run away from you very quickly indeed.

I do like Policy Of Truth but as it is from the Violator period, I am of course bound to say that. It's perhaps less of an obvious single choice than Halo but there is something gorgeously dark about it that I can't help but love. The band have played it live 561 times on most tours since World Violation with the exception of the Exciter tour. It was only played 10 times on the Global Spirit Tour. Dave's band of pub rockers playing bad Depeche cover songs played it 62 times on the Paper Monsters tour but the less said about that the better. 

The B-Side is an absolute gem. Kaleid is a stomping instrumental with a bassline that gives a clear nod to the UK music scene at the time. Like Pimpf, it has featured live but has not actually been played. It opened all 88 World Violation gigs in a version that saw it mixed with Crucified. That sounds like something you'd see in the charts these days - Cru-C-FI$d feat. DJ KalEid and Sean Paul These things always seem to feature Sean Paul. I have no idea why as the man appears to be a buffoon. I am old, leave me alone.

The Video

We've seen Depeche Mode unlucky in love before. Remember Dave and the acid fuelled nightmare that was the video for The Meaning Of Love? Well this time, the whole band are given the runaround.

We open of a shot of Dave in grainy black and white (naturally) as he wanders through the then untrendy Meatpacking district of New York. The last time we saw him of course was in the Swiss Alps when he was on the run having eaten the rest of his bandmates (see the last blog for that to make any sense. It didn't really make sense then either mind you) and now, having discarded his trusty King outfit and binned the deckchair, he is free in the Big Apple. Hang on. He's having a smooch with someone. Hmmm.

And there's Martin! He's doing the same. He's taken his date to a picturesque...erm...fence and he's having a kiss too. Dave's friend has had enough however and she runs off apparently because Dave had played her a demo of Hole To Feed, leaving Dave to slap a wall in a fairly weedy way and then sing his way through the first verse of Policy Of Truth. At this point, we should all note how cool Dave looks, despite the wall slapping. Martin's friend has had enough of him too and she heads off leaving Martin standing there looking all sad in his wee hat. Aw.

Dave keeps on moping around before we catch our first glimpse of Fletch and he's with...wait a minute...the girl who Dave was kissing. For God's sake Fletcher. He's your friend man. She may have whispered "I really want to hear Toast Hawaii. It's far better than Hole To Feed" but that is no reason to cheat on your bandmate. I expected that of Wilder, but not you.

See? There's Wilder now. Before you can say "let's face it they proved all they needed to prove with Ultra so let's just move on," Alan ensnares Martin's friend in a huge leathery snog, his leathery contribution to the global band leatherometer for this video measures a respectable 95.34%.

Dave has had enough of all this inter-band adultery and so he steals a car. A bold move, but why not? As he drives off, Fletch is abandoned and he looks properly miffed. Alan is also left all alone, his partner making a quick escape just as he was getting to the relly interesting part of his lecture about the sampling capabilities of the Amiga home computer. 

At this point, it gets odd. Dave enters a flat and, suddenly in colour, lights an Empire State Building candle as a video of the woman he and Fletch are both convinced fancies them plays on the wall. Just let it go Dave. He can't though and instead sits on a bed with his head in his hands. Fletch is suddenly there too however and he's also watching a video, this time of both the women. What on earth are Depeche Mode doing? And why are Andy and Dave living together in this video hell?

They're not alone as the other two are there too. Alan sits on what looks like Dave's bed and looks fed up. Martin is still sad and still has his wee hat on. To lighten the mood, Dave starts singing but that doesn't do the trick. The other three send him out to get chips instead so he jumps in the now in colour car and heads off into New York. Martin goes back to the fence to see if his girlfriend has returned, but of course she hasn't. COME ON MARTIN - GET A GRIP. He really does look genuinely sad by this point.

Fletch and Alan are lured back to their bridge and wall respectively and are also stood up. This really is a sorry tale. We know who's to blame though and we find the two women having a drink and a good old laugh, taking the piss put of our naive, lovestruck heroes. 

"The small one kept his hat on all the time. Very odd.
That's nothing. The one with the big hair actually has leather socks."

Fed up of being mocked, Dave simply stops his car, gets out and leans on the roof.

And they thought being in a big fancy band would mean they got all the girls eh? 

The Formats

As I mentioned above, there were only five UK formats. The 7", BONG19, can be seen above. The cover is nice and the label very pleasant. The Single Version of Policy Of Truth features on that side.

The B-Side contains the Single Version of Kaleid.

Time for our usual visit to Promo Corner. The 7" promo, RBONG19 looks identical to BONG19. It features one different track however, with the Radio Edit of Policy Of Truth on the A-Side, The same version of Kaleid as on BONG19 is on the flip side as the kids say.

If there is no Ferret & Spanner sticker on the sleeve, the only way to find out if this is the promo 7" is to look at the etching on the matrix where, if it says R 7 BONG 19 you  know you have the promo. The photo I attempted of mine above offers little by way of visual assistance.

The four track 12" promo P12BONG19 features three remixes of Policy Of Truth - Capitol Mix, Pavlov's Dub and Trancentral Mix alongside Kaleid (Remix).

The promo CD, BONG19R, contains the same two tracks as RBONG19. It says it features the 7" version of Policy Of Truth but that is in fact a vicious lie. You don't know who you can trust these days do you?

It was the 90's so that means there was a cassette single. CBONG19 is a colourful affair featuring the various different covers of the 7", CD and 12" singles inside it.

The other side of the sleeve is hevay on information but light on pictures. The cassette itself features the same two tracks as the 7".

12BONG19 is a lovely thing. On the A-side we find the Beat Box mix of Policy Of Truth by Francois Kervorkian. It's like an extended version of the track with Dave's vocals given more space than in the Single versions. If you love classic Depeche Mode remixes, you'll love this. The Beat Box mix is in fact an edit of the full mix. The full version appears on the 2004 reissued CD single and the US CD single from 1990. So there.

The first track on the B-side is the Captiol Mix of Policy Of Truth, again by Francois. It features a sample saying "I want to tell you my side of the case" that is taken from Richard Nixon's "Checkers" speech. Go to 58 seconds in below:

The When Worlds Mix...erm...mix of Kaleid completes the 12" with a noisier version of the original B-side by Daniel Miller and George Holt.

CDBONG19 features the two Policy Of Truth remixes from the 12" and adds Kaleid (Remix)by Bruce Smith and Sean Oliver, a very enjoyable version of this very enjoyable track.

L12BONG19 is a glorious thing. It's a glossy gatefold sleeve with a gorgeous all black equally glossy inner sleeve. The Trancentral Mix is exactly what you'd expect from The KLF - a slightly sinister partly ambient track that takes Policy Of Truth in an unexpected but quite brilliant direction. There's a sample again too, this time from Bob Hoskins' speech in The Long Good Friday where he says "I'm not a politician...I'm a businessman."  

The B-side features the Kaleid (Remix) plus the Pavlov's Dub version of Policy Of Truth,

The rear of the sleeve is all glossy and dark. 

LCDBONG19 features the two Policy Of Truth remixes from L12BONG19, adds in the When Worlds Mix of Kaleid then somewhat needlessly throws in the single versions of both songs to round it all off. It's a nice package with a cool sleeve and a rather lovely shiny CD.

The 2004 boxset reissue took all 8 officially released versions of Policy Of Truth and Kaleid and put them in one handy place.

In Germany, their version of CDBONG19 is this rather nice yellow affair.

The German LCDBONG19 is a shiny one, just like the UK version.

The French8 CD singles are both shiny - here's CDBONG19 in French form above

As you can see, the LCD is also a shiny thing.

Our last European stop sees us hop over the border to Belgium (you can still do that in the EU. If we tried to do that from Britain it would take 3 weeks - thanks Brexit). A shiny CD again, but the Belgians gain extra points by once again using the DM sign

Japan always goes further with its CD singles and beautifully so. The Policy Of Truth single is no exception with its fancy CD, OBI strip and nifty booklet featuring lyrics, Mute release info and more Depeche pictures than all the other CD singles combined. It also features the 8 tracks found on the 7" and 12" singles.

In America, they released the promo CD above in that curious way they do - no front sleeve but an oddly pleasant rear one. It features four versions of Policy Of Truth - Radio Edit, Single Version, Capitol Mix and Beat Box or as the cover would have you believe, Beat Box Mix.

The US CD single itself features four versions of Policy Of Truth (Single Version, Capitol Mix, Beat Box (Mix) and Trancentral Mix) together with Kaleid (Remix). 

The US 12" is a four track release featuitng the Capitol Mix, Pavlov's Dub and Beat Box (Mix) versions of Policy Of Truth and the When Worlds Mix version of Kaleid.

Finally, we end in Brazil. Their version of CDBONG19 is notable for one thing - it says Policy Of Trut and not Policy Of Truth on the CD. That's the type of detail that someone somewhere must surely care about.

As Policy Of Truth meandered around the charts, Depeche Mode had bigger things on their mind. The World Violation tour kicked off and Depeche set about becoming the biggest live draw of 1990. It had taken only 8 years for them to go from holding chickens to holding the attention of sold out baseball stadiums in the US. Not bad for a bunch of weedy synthpoppers.

The live show was never released on video but parts of it did pop up in the video for the fourth and final Violator single.

We'll take a trip around that next time.


  1. Your description of the video gave me a laugh. Love your blog about the singles!

  2. Great stuff. You can really hear Kervorkian on this track. I'm sure he worked on Kraftwerk's underrated "Electric Cafe/Techno Pop" lp. The drum sounds used on the track really sound similar to that album. Again could be wrong but weren't the band fans of that record as well?

  3. The covers are some of the rare beautiful covers made by Anton for DM (am I the only one to notice that the girl is topless ?). He took others color photographs of girls in LA in the beggining of 1990.
    Your review are excellent as always.
    Thanks from France.

  4. Great post for a great single, and Kaleid is one of those classic DM instrumental b-sides, I love it. I first got the US CD single, not sure if you noticed but the track list on the back sleeve lists the Trancentral Mix as the last track when in fact the CD has the Pavlov's Dub instead (which has been corrected on the discogs page).