Monday, 24 May 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 29: CONDEMNATION

 


Condemnation, the third single from Songs And Faith Of Devotion was something of a departure for Depeche Mode. There was no screeching noise opening the song, nor were there walls of gloriously gothic synth noises propelling the song along. 

Instead, we had a Depeche Mode Does Gospel track - and they did it very well.

Let's examine this surprise UK Top Ten hit.

HERE ON THE STAND - CONDEMNATION

The Single


Those of us who were lucky enough to attend the band's show at Crystal Palace on 31st July 1993 got this flier in the gift bag available to purchase on the day. As you can see, mine isn't in the best condition, but it does tell me that Condemnation was coming out as a single. BONG 23 duly appeared on 13th September. As we will see, the CD and 12" mentioned there featured a fourth track. You'll also have noticed a limited release featuring live tracks mentioned.



Because it was the 90's and people used the post rather than, say, Snapchat to deliver news (I'm very much "down" with "the kids"), promotional postcards would get sent to people and the one above popped through my letterbox one day in September 1993.


As you can see, the fourth track on the first CD confirmed, but there is now no mention of a 12". We had a new picture of Dave, hands on hips, looking for the Hole To Feed demo tape that Martin had thrown at him. Four new Depeche Mode live tracks - exciting times.

Picture courtesy of Michael Rose/depmod.com

The Melody Maker advert above spelled everything out for people who weren't on the mailing list, again omitting a standard 12". Curiously, it seemed Condemnation would appear in a remixed form. How do you remix that? Would the music press like it?

Sort of. In the NME, John Harris wrote:

"Perv-gospel, if you listen to this lift from Songs Of Faith And Devotion in the right way. 'Feel elation / High / To Know I can trust this / Fix of injustice,' thunders Dave Gahan, as a newly added choir draped in ecclesiastical robes do the backing vocals, Martin Gore hammers at a church piano and a vicar lurks in the vestry with a horse-whip."

Alan Jones in Music Week said:

"One of the more atypical singles in Depeche Mode's career, this slow gospel style song bears a lusty fill force vocal, but a reverential and reserved instrumental track. Subtle and stylish."

Reasonable enough. There was, naturally, no Top Of The Pops appearance but the single performed remarkably well. It actually entered the charts at number 9 - a certified Top Ten smash. This was the highest new entry in Depeche Mode's career in the UK and with the single least likely to do it. Impressive work. Ok, the next week it fell to 22, then 43 and the finally, felt no elation at all as it slipped to 68 and then into the darkness outside the Top 75 forever. Number 9 though. How very odd.

The single version of the song is remixed but not in bad way. The Paris Mix, so called because Alan and Steve Lyon remixed in it Dortmund, adds some beats, a few new sounds and the impressive vocals of Samantha Smith and Hildia Campbell, all of which works together very nicely indeed. The song has been played 237 times by the band. It started off featuring every night on Devotional with Dave on vocals but, as Devotional turned to Exotic, Martin took over the vocals because everyone was too focussed on having too nice a time on tour. I really like Martin's version, especially the way he sings the secondd line/word of each verse. Clever stuff. Dave then took back the mic for the Singles Tour before the song basically disappeared, surfacing only occasionally on subsequent tours with Martin taking lead vocals from time to time.

The B-Side is Death's Door (Jazz Mix). Death's Door is a song recorded by Alan and Martin after World Violation for the Wim Wenders film Until The End Of The World. Dave didn't want to come to England so Martin sings the song which features, among other things, some off-cuts from Nils Tuxen's steel guitar playing from Clean and parts of Martin's guitar lines from Blue Dress.  The Jazz Mix is so called because it features what seems like fourteen hours of jazz noodling. It's fine, but the soundtrack version is better and the Devotional version better still. There was no promo 12" released for Death's Door by the way. If you see one, it's a bootleg.

The Video


If you are in Budapest being a rock star, the one thing you don't want to do is get dragged to the Hungarian countryside after a night's refreshment and be made to pose around dressed either as a monk or 1993 era Dave Gahan. Well Anton doesn't care about that sort of thing, so that's what happened. to Depeche Mode for this video.

What in God's name is going on here? We open on a woman standing beside a huge haystack and it soon becomes obvious that she's arranged to meet Dave as he approaches her, very slowly indeed, surrounded by what look like very young monks. Naturally. They wander up a never ending farm track as a couple snog on a roadside.

"Is that Dave Gahan and a bunch of monks?"
"Gary, I have work in ten minutes. Either kiss me or give me a lift back into town."

The Monk Train then wanders past an even younger couple and they seem to have their heads glued together. Dave, locks flowing in the cold Hungarian breeze, finally meets up with his date and, oddly, two old men and one old woman nod on approvingly. It was the 90's - a new sense of liberation permeated the whole of Europe.

Dave sings the chorus at his date so she sends him away and he reboards the Monk Train as a half nude couple giggle beside another huge haystack. This farm track really is an odd place - the longer the video goes on, the more couples we see frolicking happily while an international rock star wanders around surrounded by monks. This must happen all the time in Hungary.

"Is that Dave Gahan and a bunch of monks?"
"Of course it is Nigel. You know what this place is like. Last time you and I got frisky, Jon Bon Jovi wandered past with a bunch of nuns."
"How did I forget that?"

Wait a minute - who's that? It's Brothers Wilder and Gahan and Friar Fletcher and they are here to save Haystack Woman from having the chorus sung at her again. Martin, holding a book saying Condemned on it, makes no effort whatsoever to hide his hangover, Alan just looks angry, really angry in fact, and even Fletch looks vexed. Martin might actually be asleep standing up, like a drunk, synthgod horse with a mane of fluffy hair. 

As the song ends, most of the monks run off and we find Dave left with Samantha and Hildia who at this point must really have been examining their contracts. "We agreed to sing, but this bollocks was not part of any deal." Martin wakes up briefly and moves his hands, revealing that the book isn't called Condemned, but is in fact called Condemned To Love - available in limited edition massive book and smaller book no doubt.  Samantha and Hildia march Dave up to Haystack Woman having threatened to smack him over the head with Condemned To Love if he (1) sings the chorus to the woman again and (2) doesn't let them finish up and get back to their hotel.

As Dave fannies about looking all windswept, Samantha and Hildia lose their patience and chain Dave and Haystack Woman together as the three Depeche Monks look on, all hungover in Hungary. No-one asks Samantha and Hildia where they got the chains. Everyone just wants to get back to a warm hotel room.

There was also a live video too, taken from Devotional. It features no monks and no snogging Hungarians but a visibly chirpier Samantha and Hildia.

The Formats

Picture courtesy of depmod.com

Once again, there was no 7" single released in the UK. There was a 7" promo however, BONG23, and it's pictured above. I don't have this so the kind people at depmod.com allowed me to use a picture of theirs. Condemnation (Paris Mix), so called because Alan and Steve Lyon remixed it in Stockholm, is on the A-Side and Death's Door (Jazz Mix) is on the B-Side.


The cassette single, CBONG23, features the same two songs, thrillingly playing them on both sides of the tape.


There were two promo 12" singles released for Condemnation though one of them is really for Rush. P12BONG23 features the two tracks from CBONG23 on the A-Side.


On the B-Side, we get the Spiritual Guidance Mix of Rush.


PL12BONG23R presumably features and R because the record contains three mixes of Rush and the release is viewed as a Rush promo rather than a Condemnation one. On the A-Side, we have the Spiritual Guidance Mix again.


The B-Side features the Amylnitrate Mix (Instrumental) and the Wild Planet Mix. This one is quite hard to find although there are five on Discogs just now, the cheapest at £130. Presumably if you live in Brexit ruined Britain, it'll cost you £76 to get it posted to you through our "world beating customs system."


12BONG23 is a a lovely thing. A shot of the Devotional film for the song adorns the cover and, once again, we have a deluxe inner sleeve. Lucky us. Some come with the opening you can see below in mine - a slight crescent shape cut out at the top - and others with the usual squared off opening. That's your fact for the day.


This record is a 5 track 12" and, unlike when they did so for Stripped, there's no boasting about that on the cover. One the A-Side, we get the two CBONG23 tracks.


Anton thoughtfully and incredibly scruffily wrote the lyrics on the back. On the B-Side, the three Rush remixes from PL12BONG23R turn up. They're all really rather good.


CDBONG23 features four tracks. 


It contains all the songs from 12BONG23 with the exception of the Wild Planet Mix of Rush.


It comes in a trifold digipack. Initial copies featured a sticker telling you the live CD and 12" were also available.


L12BONG23 is a beauty - a gatefold 12" with yet another deluxe inner sleeve and four cracking live tracks. I particularly enjoy the way the tracks are listed in the top right corner.


Look at the luxury on that. The A-Side features Condemnation and Personal Jesus recorded live on June 4th 1993 at The Forum, Milan.


On the B-Side, we get Enjoy The Silence and Halo from the same gig. It really was thrilling hearing these at the time. On the back there's a small picture of Martin singing Condemnation.


Inside, we get pictures of all the band with a particularly cool one of Dave. Not a monk costume insight either. Initial pressings of this 12" featured a sticker that alerted you to the existence of CDBONG23.


LCDBONG23 features the same four tracks.


Martin pops up on the back again, waving his wee arms.


Once again, it's a trifold digipack. I love that picture of Martin on the inner sleeve above. This also featured a sticker telling you about CDBONG23.


The 2004 CD single features all 9 tracks from both 12" singles.



Germany gave us a 7" which is very nice of them.


It features the two CBONG23 tracks and has a particularly enjoyable depecheMODE font. A 7" single could also be had in Belgium and the Philippines and Spain both produced promo versions.



In France, there was a 2 track card sleeve CD which is a nice thing. Similar releases crept out in Belgium, Germany and Sweden.


The Spanish equivalent of L12BONG23 is interesting as it is not in a gatefold sleeve.  The French and German 12" singles come in gatefold sleeves.


The US 12" is basically an album, On the A-Side we have Condemnation, Enjoy The Silence and Halo all live from Milan and Death's Door (Jazz Mix).


On the B-Side, you get the three Rush remixes from PL12BONG23R and Condemnation (Paris Mix).


The US CD single drops the Wild Plant Mix, rearranges the track order and comes in that odd ECO pack thing. There are four variations of this, each with a different sized or coloured opening clip. There is no Condemnation promo CD from the US by the way. You may hear it exists, but it doesn't.


Somewhat to my surprise, I have the Canadian CD single too. It features the same seven tracks as the US CD but in a normal box.


Finally, we end in Japan with a CD single that features the same tracks as CDBONG23 but adds a large OBI and a poster for good measure. Who knows, you may end up in a karaoke bar in Tokyo needing the Japanese lyrics for Death's Door?


So there we have it. Depeche Mode return to the UK Top 10 and they do so with a gospel(ish) track. Impressive stuff. The single itself was really more an advert for the ongoing world tour but it's always nice to get a new track, a few live songs and a remix or two of an album track.

The next time we would hear from Depeche Mode would be January 1994 and by that point they'd all been affected by the Devotional tour in one way or another. Yes, it's time to say goodbye to the tour, hello to a crucifix pack CD single and goodbye to the band's last single as a four piece band.

Yes, someone left after that. No idea who though.

Friday, 14 May 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 28: WALKING IN MY SHOES

 


On 26th April 1993, Depeche Mode finally released a single that was a worthy follow up to another single released on the same day, eleven years earlier.

Walking In My Shoes took over where that single left off, matching it in depth, tone and gothic genius. It could never be rationally argued by anyone that Walking In My Shoes is quite as dark and mysterious as its predecessor but it tried its best.

We have however already looked at The Meaning Of Love, so let's focus on its twin, albeit a twin born 11 years later, instead.

Stumble this way - it's Walking In My Shoes time.

MY INTENTIONS COULDN'T HAVE BEEN PURER - WALKING IN MY SHOES

The Single

NME advert - courtesy of Michael Rose/depmod.com

Walking In My Shoes, BONG22, was the second single from Songs Of Faith And Devotion and was released on 26th April 1993. For many people, it was already a highlight of the album and it's a song that has long been a favourite of many Depeche Mode fans. For the UK music press, it was the usual story.

The NME seemed to like it, saying "Disguised as a small book, with gangs of silly pictures from some video, the new Depeche Mode single is best enjoyed as part of its overpoweringly moody LP Songs Of Faith And Devotion, rather than in this format, where it is not quite tough enough to be a single. Eerie and powerful for all that, though."

The video they refer to is, of course, the actual video. Over at Melody Maker, we got this typical slice of Melody Maker wisdom:

"Oh, come on guys! We all saw that Enjoy The Silence video a couple of years back, where a clearly demented Dave Gahan cast himself as King Canute. So now, obviously, he's gone the rest of the way round the twist, and you've had to have him locked up. But did you honestly think we wouldn't notice when you got Zodiac Mindwarp in to replace him? Dave/Zod pleads that we should never judge him too harshly, because we can't possibly imagine how hard it can be being an international pop star and sex symbol for the young and tasteless. The hearts of the homeless haemorrhage, I'm sure."

I was taught that if I couldn't say anything nice, I was not to say anything at all so I'm not going to comment on that lunacy.

One person who is a fan of the song is Bono. During his 60th birthday celebrations on U2.com, he sent letters to 60 artists whose work he had admired. Depeche Mode got a letter and it was about this song:


That's certainly the best review of the song I could find, this blog aside of course.

Promotional postcard

As we saw last time, there was only one in-studio promotional appearance in the whole Songs Of Faith And Devotion era so there is no Top Of The Pops appearance to dissect here. As a bonus then, let's enjoy this performance on the song from 2009 on Later....With Jools Holland, a performance that is unique as both Martin and Andy were too busy to perform on TV, so they were replaced by Dame Barbara Cartland and Elton John for one night only

The single was the only one of the four Songs Of Faith And Devotion singles not to crack the UK Top 10, despite arguably being the best of the bunch. It entered the charts at number 22, climbed to 14 and then fell, firstly to 41 and then even the Lord blushed as the song tumbled to 61 and then into the post chart darkness after that. A poor showing for a mighty song.

And what a mighty song it is. Walking In My Shoes has been a mainstay of Depeche Mode gigs since 1993 and has been played 786 times by the band on every tour since with, for the purposes of the pedants sharpening their pencil, the exception of the Ultra parties. I know they were not actually a tour but one of you always points out something about these blogs so I have to cover every base. This isn't easy you know. Bloody Depeche Mode fans. I know it's boring, but the Devotional version of this is still my favourite. It's a towering version of the song with a mental video played on the mental screens on the mental stage set. Glorious. As each tour passes, the tom toms get louder but they still don't detract from the power this song radiates when played live. It's a very special song, very special indeed.

This single also had a B-Side of course and it's a cracker. My Joy is a wonderful song and one that, for many years I was convinced had a chorus that said "I'm not about to know...you move me." for some reason. Had I given it any thought, I would of course have realised that it actually says "I'm not a mountain no, you move me" which makes more sense, at least in a way. It's a song that many people such as Kevin May, the co-author of the more details coming soon book Halo, feel merited a place on Songs Of Faith And Devotion. Kevin is biased however as he loves the song in an almost alarming way. You do wonder what the album would have sounded like with this track instead of, say, Get Right With Me for example. I like both songs though, so I'm not opening this can of worms. My Joy has never been played live and, let's be honest here, it never will. Sorry Kevin.

The Video

After the shock of 1980's sit-com stars appearing alongside a bearded Dave in I Feel You, what were we in store for next? The cast of Bread playing keyboards with Fletch? Thankfully not. Instead, and quite logically, the band turned to ice skating chicken head beasts. It was the obvious move.

We open with Dave, crouched over in the corner of what looks like a very unpleasant room, looking ashamed. No wonder. He'd just played the band the demo of Hole To Feed and they demanded he go and stand in the corner of the room and really think about what he'd done and why they were so disappointed in him. They weren't angry, they just felt let down. He's quickly joined by two people with the big Walking In My Shoes chicken beast heads on and they're both wearing robes so there's nothing to see here. I previously suggested that this song's younger twin bother's video was "on drugs" - this video has found several other stashes and necked them all at once.

We see Dave again, the some sort of priest type chap and Dave storms off, turns blurred and red and starts singing in front of the two chicken head beasts and his Big Castle. He was in a right mood by now and, if you look closely enough, he's not in fact miming "I would tell you about the things they put me through" but is instead mouthing "We are here, we can love, we share something."

The priest reappears and is seen reading one of the 34 additional books that would later feature in the Sounds Of The Universe deluxe boxset, before he's joined by a female colleague and they shyly, and rather sweetly, hold hands while Dave continues his one man singing protest.

At this point, I should point out that I am not going to start talking about the extras that feature in the video as that's simply not fair. I've been at enough Depeche gigs to have seen plenty of you. People in glass houses and that.

As the first chorus arrives, we see the whole cast on the steps of Dave's Big Castle as he mouths "Words can leave you broken inside" as the song plays, The flirting priests keep flirting and everyone keeps looking around in a shifty manner. They can all hear what Dave is singing - they just can't believe it. One question leaps out however - where are the other three?

Well, one minute and thirty seconds in, we find out. Remember the perky Basildon Boyzone who we saw in the Everything Counts video, singing and a-swinging as they jauntily sing along? Well, ten years later, they are older, more miserable and definitely hungover. We seem them in that state, imprisoned in Dave's Hole to Feed Corner with the lead singer having exacted his revenge and placed them there while the demo plays at Metallica like volume over bis Big Castle's stereo. Dave pops up and then we see Alan alone, looking like a bit miserable puppet with its strings cut.

The Basildon Boyzone then turn up again, this time with naked women sitting on their knees as morality frowns upon them and rightly so. Dave is determined to make this all about him, so he turns the front of his Big Castle into the set of Hole To Feed - The Musical and we see the whole cast stand again as he sings along ("Shame has a hold, that's kept us frozen"). The musical mood is disturbed by class clown Gore pressing his face up against the camera. Behave Gore, you'll only encourage the others....oh STOP IT Fletcher and Wilder. Get back into Hole To Feed Corner. 

At two minutes and 48 seconds, Dave introduces the finale of Hole To Feed - The Musical as the ice skating scene begins. As he raises his arms, the two flirting priests don their chicken beast heads and start ice skating. Gore and Fletcher are rightly placed back in Hole To Feed Corner and the priests finally get married in front of the cast and two chicken head beasts. It the wedding everyone dreams of. The video plays out as the happy couple ice skate in front of Dave's Big Castle.

Do you know something? Watching that video for the first time in ages really was moving. What a video and what a song. As I type, I feel like I felt when I heard the song for the first time. It is an incredible and hugely moving song and I seem to have something in my eye. What a special band.

The Formats


There was no official 7" single released in the UK this time. There is a "Jukebox Promo" version however, so called because the central hole is designed to fit a jukebox. Whether or not anyone was using a jukebox in 1993 is another question. The catalogue number is BONG22, and Side A features the 7" Mix of Walking In My Shoes, a decent remix edit of the album version.


Side B features My Joy and a picture of my hand although it's not known if that features on all copies.


While we are on promos then, here is P12BONG22, the 12" promo. It features the 7" Mix of Walking In My Shoes on the A-Side together with the, sigh, Grungy Gonads Mix. Really? Side B features two mixes of My Joy - 7" Mix and Slow Slide Mix.


CBONG22, the cassette single, contains the same two tracks as the promo 7". Like everything else officially released for this single, the packaging is wonderful.


The chicken head beast returns for the cover art for the single and it is, of course, naked save for its big mad head.  12BONG22 featurs the same four tracks as P12BONG22 so that means Side A contains the Grungy Gonads Mix. The mix is good, the name is not.


The B-Side features the two versions of My Joy. 


CDBONG22, my well worn copy above, comes in a matt and glossy in places digipack.


Chicken head beasts aplenty here.


The CD features the same four tracks as 12BONG22.


As sure as night follows day, an L12 follows a 12, so here is L12BONG22. I have a T-shirt with that cover that has somehow survived 28 years. My friend Stuart got one with the 12BONG22 cover at the time of which I was always jealous.


The single comes in a gatefold sleeve with a "luxury" inner sleeve. That doesn't mean that it comes with free room service, all it seems to mean is that it is shiny. It is very nice.


The rear of the sleeve and its luxury inner are a tad sparser than the rest of the package.


The Policy Of Truth nudity score is beaten here.


In actual music news, the record features four remixes of Walking In My Shoes. On Side A we have the Extended Twelve Inch Mix (epic and glorious) and the Random Carpet Mix (odd name, good remix). On the other side, we get the Anandamidic Mix and the Ambient Whale Mix, with the former taking the "best remix of Side B" prize.


LCDBONG22 is another matt/glossy digipack. I really like the black CD.


The art is very similar to the L12 art.


The CD itself features the same four remixes as L12BONG22.



The 2004 reissue, CDBONG22X, puts all eight tracks together in one place.


Away from the UK. Germany was one of a few countries sensible enough to release a 7". Isn't it lovely?


Sweden, France and Belgium did the same. The 7" singles feature the same tracks as the UK promo 7". I don't have that any version of this single really. Do check depmod.com for a full run down of all available formats and look out for the 2 track card sleeve CD singles from Germany, Belgium, France and Sweden as they look rather lovely. 


In the US, a promo CD was released containing the Album Edit and Single Edit, both of which appear to be the same length so who knows what is going on there.


The US CD single helpfully contains all 8 remixes from the various UK formats we've seen.


The US 12" singles from this era were a joy as they are basically as long as many albums. Side A here features the Extended Twelve Inch Mix, Random Carpet Mix and Grungy Gonads Mix.


Side B contains the Anandamidic Mix and Ambient Whale Mix alongside the Slow Slide Mix of My Joy.


Let's end in Japan with one of their typically full of things CD singles. The songs featured are those on CDBONG22 but you also get an OBI, a card to order something and a lyric sheet in both English and Japanese. Lovely.


Walking In My Shoes is quintessential Depeche Mode and a track that is rightly loved by most, if not all, Depeche fans. It night have been the more obvious choice for the first single for the album but Depeche Mode don't do that.

What it turns out they did do was their own take on gospel music. That will take the stand next time.