Friday, 26 November 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 51: HEAVEN

 


Depeche Mode's 50th UK single (I'm including Little 15 in that although, as we know, no-one knows where that was released if indeed it was released at all) was their first since The Meaning Of Love not to have a BONG catalogue number. 

Heaven followed Precious and Dream On by being a slower first release from the new album than you might expect a band to release on their big comeback. There were certainly more obvious singles on Delta Machine, none of which were chosen as singles oddly. 

With Heaven we got only three official releases, some poor attempts at remixing and a dreary video. Oh well. On that explosion of enthusiasm, let's dive right in.

I STAND IN GOLDEN RAYS - HEAVEN

The Single


The band, who had stayed with EMI after Mute freed itself from that label, were not kept on by EMI after the Remixes 2: 81-11 completed their contractual obligation to the label. They moved to Sony/Columbia and the BONG prefix disappeared forever. That was a real shame as it was a unique Depeche Mode thing and its use on the Strangelove releases was majestic. The catalogue number for the CD single of Heaven is 8765461572 for those of you who find that sort of thing important.

Heaven was released digitally in most corners of the world on 31st January 2013 but not released in the UK until 17th March. There is obviously some major label corporate thinking behind that but it does seem very odd indeed. Physical formats were available in the US from 1st February but the UK, and Europe, didn't get those until March 18th 2013. Again - no idea why.

Heaven's reviews appeared more in the album reviews sections than single reviews sections of whatever format media was taking in 2013. Louder Than War had this to say:

"Like Bowie, Depeche chose a ballad as their comeback single. Heaven broods in its downright patronising braveness and displays that even the 80s stalwarts can produce a ballad of rather magical quality. Again, the mix is so sparsely put together that every click, beat and tap can be heard. Whilst the press was raving about the single, the groups PR smugly admitted it wasn’t the best track on the album."

The Quietus said:

"I must admit I wasn't sure about this as a single. It felt a little too focussed at the mainstream American radio market, a little too much Lennon twisted into the piano, a little of Radiohead's 'Karma Police', and it's fair to say it is a marked contrast to that opening salvo. Still, it's not too much of a passion-killer as far as the sequencing goes, though fans of the tougher side of Depeche Mode will not be left hoping for more. Actually, the great thing about 'Heaven' is that it sounds like the sort of song U2 ought to be writing if they weren't constantly spinning songs out of a gigantic cloud of wind... and there's always that Blawan remix."

I think Radiohead's lawyers might have been in touch about that. Billboard said nothing of any interest:

"The most personal and coincidentally beautiful vocal of “Delta Machine” comes on “Heaven,” the official lead single. It’s a synth-rock slow jam that goes very alt-rock on the chorus, with some ripping vocal harmonies."

I wouldn't call Heaven "alt-rock," though I am in my mid 40's (that's a tad generous), so I have no idea what alt-rock is anymore.

Top Of The Pops was dead by this point in time and, Jools aside, there were no shows in the UK that show live music, so Depeche Mode took to the chat show circuit, appearing on The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV. This was a big(ish) thing as they really hadn't done this for years and, slightly awkward interview aside, they played a live version of Heaven:



Happily, Martin had dropped the Barbara Cartland look of the Sounds Of The Universe era and was looking rather cool. as was Dave. Fletch was still rocking the Elton John vibe however and, as for the performance itself, it was fine.

Heaven rocketed into the UK charts at number 60 for one week then disappeared again. Oh well. I greeted the release of Heaven with great joy at the time, as you would all expect of me by now but it's really not stood the test of time as a single. It's nice enough but really doesn't do much at all and something like Broken or Angel would have surely been a much bolder choice of return single.  As it was the lead single for Delta Machine, the band jammed it into the Delta Machine tour sets whether they liked it or not. and it was played 104 times on the tour, last being heard at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow on 7th March 2014. It's not been played since and that's perhaps not surprising. 

The B-Side, or track two on the first CD as we had come to know B-sides by 2013, was All That's Mine, a song Dave wrote with Kurt Uenala which features as an extra track on the Delta Machine deluxe versions. I really like that song and it would have been a nice addition to the main album. It's not been played live and unless Dave and Soulsavers prove me wrong in a week or so, it never will be.

The Video


The almost entirely joyless video for Heaven was directed by Timothy Saccenti and was filmed in the Marigny Opera House in New Orleans in November 2012.

We start off with an exploding tree and quickly move to the Opera House where the band plus Christian are running through the song with Fletch curiously battering away at an upright piano, an instrument he had last played at St Nicholas School when auditioning for Composition Of Sound (erm...really?) when he played a perfect note by note cover of Bohemian Rhapsody (are you REALLY sure). 

It rumbles on all stylishly and moodily until 40 seconds in when a spooky masked person appears and they are not happy. The tree that we saw at the start is where they live so they're rightfully annoyed that it's been tampered with for a video by the band that brought you classics like A Photograph Of You, It's Called A Heart and...wait for it....Hole To Feed.

Angry Mask Person is so annoyed that they bring a friend to the opera house, cast a spell and suddenly, or more accurately at 1 minute 49, the ghost of Strangelove appears. Yes, as a result of BONG going, the underwear clad Strangelove video star has returned in ghost form to take revenge on the band (bear with me here...).

She dances around and clamps two halves of a skull together to cast a spell and - boom! - the Dave is dressed in white just like in the Strangelove 88 video. "You thought that video was an inferior version of the one I starred in with my rubber bra on?" cackles the ghost, "well, take this! Now this admittedly drab video will feature the singer dressed like the Strangelove 88 video. Hang on, where's the guy with the massive hair who did the keyboard demos?" An odd type of revenge for dropping a catalogue number I will admit but this is what happened and you can't prove otherwise.

Reeling from this black magic, the video carries on with the band playing, Dave dressed in black and sometimes white as Angry Mask Person and Rubber Bra Women mope about.

I really didn't have much to work with there.

The Formats


There were no promos to chase this time so all we had were three formats. The first, CDBON....oh, I mean, the first CD is pictured above.


Anton did the sleeve and CD design and obviously didn't spend that much time on either. The band appear on the rear as you can see. There are two tracks on this - Heaven (Album Version) and All That's Mine (Deluxe Album Version). Confusingly, the word Heaven appears above the track numbers on the back meaning that one could conclude that there are two remixes of the song here with the second being a bold reworking of the track. Or perhaps, 51 blogs into this, I have lost all reason.


CD 2 is notably different from CD 1 because the title is bigger on the front and the word Heaven is in red, as is the D on the CD.


The content of the CD is of course different too as we have five versions of Heaven and, this time, the song title's position on the rear sleeve makes sense. The remixes are:

1. Album version
2. Owlle Remix - People got excited about this at the time and rightly so. It still stands up today and is very enjoyable. Instead of a 145 minute long club mix that features one note from the song, this is a very nice remix indeed.
3. Steps To Heaven RMX - this is a remix by popular UK novelty band Steps based on their famous cover of the Bee Gees song Tragedy. No, not really, this...ahem...rmx is a fairly unexciting thing
4. Blawan Remix - this Quietus favoured remix is quite interesting. It's a dark loud thing that doesn't do a great deal but is much better than most recent remixes of Depeche singles
5. Matthew Dear vs Audion Vocal Mix - Matthew Dear takes on himself in a very one sided fight and produces a remix that isn't as exciting as it should have been.


There was of course a 12" too. Side A (above) features the Blawan Dub (not as good as the Blawan Remix) and the Owlle Remix.


Side B contains two further remixes of Heaven neither of which are worth making too much fuss about - Steps To Heaven Voxdub and Matthew Dear vs Audion Instrumental Mix.

Elsewhere, you could get yourself promo CD-Rs in the UK and in Europe together with a Greek promo DVD-R. The two CD singles above were released in Taiwan with the usual sticker on the front and there was a Portuguese FNAC only release on the second CD which came in a cardboard package. Here it is, courtesy of depmod.com :



The two CD singles were available in the US but, contrary to what the official site says, there was no US 12". There was a promo CD-R in the US too featuring three remixes by Freemasons, a statement that has very different meanings in the US and Glasgow, 

The final physical release is this Swiss only 7" which came with a limited and insanely priced Hublot watch thing which was sold for charity. It features the Album Version of Heaven and the record looks like this, again thanks to depmod.com :


Finally, all of the remixes were available digitally.



So that was Heaven. Not the most inspiring return for the band but better was to come when Delta Machine arrived.

Well, better in the sense of better songs. Sadly, I don't mean better in terms of the choice of singles as Soothe My Soul will amply demonstrate next time.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 50: PERSONAL JESUS 2011

 


Depeche Mode's first remix album Remixes 81-04 was a success and it reminded everyone just how many good Depeche Mode remixes there had been. To fill the gap between Sounds Of The Universe and whatever was going to come next, another remix album was released, snappily entitled Remixes 2: 81-11.

A single needed to be chosen to promote the album and, having used and made a mess of Enjoy The Silence last time round, the band went for their second best known song and chose A Photograph Of You for the role. At the last minute however, everyone changed their minds and we instead got Personal Jesus 2011. The world will never hear the 23 long minute remix of A Photograph Of You by Brian Eno and Kylie Minogue and that is a shame.

Personal Jesus 2011 was so called because it was remixed and released in the year 2011. Here is the story of a mainly forgettable series of remixes, a nice piece of coloured vinyl and, sadly, the last ever BONG.

PUT ME TO THE TEST - PERSONAL JESUS 2011

The Single



Personal Jesus 2011, BONG43, was first released digitally on 18th April 2011 with The Stargate Mix, the lead version of the song, and the Alex Metric Remix Edit made available. The physical formats followed on 30th Mat 2011.

Reviews of the single were thin on the ground. In its review of Remixes 2: 81-11, Pitchfork described The Stargate Mix thus:

"And of the three mixes of "Personal Jesus" here, one is pretty good. (That would be the one by Stargate, who are big enough Depeche Mode fans that they snuck a musical quote from Master and Servant into Rihanna's "S&M". Their version is also one of only three tracks on these three discs to come in under the four-minute mark.)"

In the notes that accompanied some versions of the promo CD, Tor Hermansen of Stargate confirmed that Rhianna had told him she was a Depeche Mode fan. So there you go.

The review of the album on the website Superdeluxedition said of The Stargate Mix:

"The Stargate Mix of Personal Jesus, lifts the spirits as we approach the end of the disc, with what is an uplifting trancey radio edit of this classic song."

The band displayed their usual enthusiasm when promoting a new single and seemed to overlook any form of promotional duty whatsoever. By this point in time, sales of physical singles were dwindling with people preferring downloads to actual records and so on. Depeche Mode's grizzly old fanbase are very much the physical format generation however so we always expect, nay demand, a 12" single and CD so that we can drone on endlessly about how you really can't get a feel for the music on digital only and that's so much nicer to have an actual product in your hand (oo-err) etc. You know the script - let's be honest, rather than laugh at the last sentence, you were all actually nodding your heads.

Anyway, Depeche Mode and other heritage acts fanbases aside, no-one was buying physical formats in 2011 as at that was so 1990's. As a result, the few of us risked derision by going to an actual shop to buy this ("Depeche what mate? A record? Haha. I think Tainted Love came out on a 7" - is that them?") and the rest of us went to trusty Mute Bank, the Bank that always provides a vinyl service and the result of those combined efforts saw the single fly into the UK charts at.....

...number 119. Oh dear.

The Stargate Mix is decent enough in a radio friendly, bleepy, trancey way and it is about the best mix of the various Personal Jesus versions available on the single. It's alright basically, and not as bad as Peace or Hole To Feed so it has that going for it.

That version has never been played live and that seems reasonable. It would have been out of place on any tour really, apart from the Delta Machine tour with the 43 minute long slow intro the song had. That really was a shocker.

The Video


The original video for Personal Jesus was a Corbijn masterclass and showed off the band's slinky new Violator era style beautifully, creating the first of that era's iconic images. 

The video for Personal Jesus 2011 has a lot in common with that in that it has people in it and they are wandering around while a version of Personal Jesus plays. Those things aside, it's a load of rubbish really. 

It was filmed in the Pzlen region of the Czech Republic and once again doesn't feature the band. It instead features a gang of people trying to drown accused of being a witch. She had apparently said that if we were all honest we would admit that Sounds Of The Universe was a bad album. but that enraged the Black Swarm (Plzen Branch) who were having none of that. They tried to drown her just because she was different.

The star of the video has the last laugh however as she floats out of the water and flies away leaving the bewildered Sounds Of The Universe fans reconsidering their position.

Or something. I tried with this one, I really did, but there is very little to say about it at all.

The Formats

This was the last Depeche Mode single to have a BONG catalogue number. It had been with us since Leave In Silence, had given its name to the fanclub, appeared on the Strangelove megaphone and was a lovely unique Depeche Mode thing. The BONG prefix is much missed. 


There were only two physical formats available for this release but there was a promo CD too (above).


PCDBONG43 is a six track affair. It contains the five tracks we will find on CDBONG43 and adds Personal Jesus (Alex Metric Remix Edit) for good measure.


The tracklist features in the photo above.


CDBONG43 was the first of the physical releases.


There are five remixes on here, all of Personal Jesus, and they are:

1. The Stargate Mix
2. Alex Metric Remix  - starts off ok but becomes relatively aimless
3. Eric Prydz Remix - no, just no.
4. M.A.N. Remix - this is by Mark Ronson and it's therefore as smug as you'd expect. At least he doesn't drag Bruno Mars into it which is at least something. The backing track, which Nick Rhodes of D**** D**** seems to have had a hand in, sounds like an Erasure B-side from the 90's
5. Sie Medway-Smith Remix - decent enough but a tad long.


12BONG43 is a lovely purple(ish) coloured vinyl release. It features the same five remixes we found on CDBONG43 but in a different order. On Side A (above), they appear as follows: Alex Metric Remix, M.A.N. Remix and The Stargate Mix.


On the B-Side, we have Eric Prydz Remix and Sie Medway-Smith Remix. A second digital release was available featuring all those tracks with the exception of the already digitally released The Stargate Mix.

Elsewhere on earth, it was fairly dull release wise with two exceptions. Promo CD-Rs were available in Denmark (two of them in fact), France and Germany and promo DVD-Rs in Greece and Sweden,  A CD single was released in Taiwan. Once again, it was just CDBONG43 with a sticker in Taiwanese on it.

The first of the interesting releases is from the Ukraine.

picture courtesy of depmod.com

The single was released on 12" there in a numbered edition limited to 300 copies with the words "Personal Jesus" written in Ukrainian on the front, back and labels. This one is still on my wantlist.


The second interesting release is the US 12". It was given away at certain indepedent stores with the purchase of the 3 CD version of Remixes 2: 81-11. It contains four tracks:


The sticker on the sleeve explains what they are.


On Side A, we have two remixes of Personal Jesus - Alex Metric Remix and M.A.N. Remix


Side B is where the real action is. Despite the sticker saying it features The Sun And The Rainfall (Black Light Odyssey's Further Excerpts Dub) it in fact features the normal version of that remix, not the Dub version. Who cares though as this remix is outstanding. It is a superb remix of a wonderful track and is filled with a love of the song from real fans of the band. Brilliant. No-one will ever be able to rationally explain why this wasn't on the Remixes 2: 81-11 album. Its exclusion was madness.

The other track on Side B is The Sinner In Me (SixToes Remix), another highly enjoyable SixToes take on a Depeche track.


As with Enjoy The Silence 04, Personal Jesus 2011 is an odd thing. It's a shame that it doesn't follow Enjoy The Silence 04 and feature some remixes of other tracks but what are going to do? The UK vinyl is a nice thing as is the US 12" so there's enough there to keep people like me happy.

Next time we heard from Depeche Mode, we'd be in Heaven.  We'll look at that experimental club banger next time.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A sad footnote. I recently learned that Doug Graystone, an English Depeche fan passed away suddenly. He was a regular contributor in the comments section on the blog's Facebook page and we'd exchanged messages there throughout this series. Rest in peace Doug. 


Wednesday, 10 November 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 49: HOLE TO FEED/FRAGILE TENSION

 


When I first started this blog series I knew this day would come. I've had a go at Hole To Feed for some time now and it's become the blog's trademark to an extent. I'd rather that it was known for quality writing or insight but you take what you can get.

The third Depeche Mode double A side single was then Hole To Feed, the song with the honour of having the worst title in the band's history, and Fragile Tension, a song that people hate with a passion usually reserved for mass murderers or Boris Johnson, such was the fury that greeted the leak of the song prior to the release of Sounds Of The Universe.

With this release we got a now very pricey double 12", a CD single and a video that I'm afraid we are going to have to watch in a few minutes. Let's get stuck in then.

NOWHERE TO HIDE - HOLE TO FEED/FRAGILE TENSION

The Single


Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension, BONG42, was released on 7th December 2009. The official site announced the news  that thrilled us all a month before the release date by saying that the single would come out and that there would be no 7" or LCD. Bad news for collectors then.

The way the single was released meant that it would not be eligible for the UK charts so there were very few single reviews. Hole To Feed was written by Dave, Christian Eigner and Andrew Philpott of course, so that meant it grabbed the attention of a few reviewers when they listened to Sounds Of The Universe. Pitchfork seemed to like it:

"Hole to Feed, a Gahan composition, is busy yet spare, bounding along a sci-fi take on the Bo Diddley beat while Gahan (his troubled history public record) draws on double meanings and innuendo to project the band's trademark narcissistic portent."

The same review said of Fragile Tension:

"...hearkening back to the band's synthier days without losing the layer of grunge it's carefully cultivated post-Violator, a strategy also reflected by "Fragile Tension" (which wouldn't have been out of place on the generally noisier Angel)"

Of Hole To Feed, The Quietus said:

"This is minimal acid blues and concerns the singer's addictive nature, and its minimalism is emphasized by the use of old equipment and a prominent, primitive rock guitar."

The same review managed to describe Fragile Tension without saying if they liked the song:

"This song, like 'Jezebel', harks back to 'Lillian' from Playing The Angel and appears to be a bit of an eco-ballad or an elegy to the not-yet disappeared beauty of planet earth. However the melancholia of the synth and the sentiment aren't reflected in Gore's almost raucous guitar playing."

Generally speaking then, mainly positive.

As the song was not eligible for the UK charts, there are no positions to look at. The band naturally did bugger all to promote it either though it did reach number 27 in France. Even the boiling hot centre of Depeche Mode fandom, Germany, only sent it as high as number 39.

Here's the thing. As you may have gathered, I don't like Hole To Feed. It's not a good Depeche Mode song and it has a simply dreadful title. Think about it -  Hole. To. Feed. Who feeds a hole? What do you feed a hole? It's grim. That said, having just had to listen to Peace for the last blog, it almost feels as if Hole To Feed has some redeeming features. 

That's the headline then - "Not as bad as Peace."

The band dutifully stuck with the song throughout Tour Of The Universe and played it live 103 times in all. Unlike many of the other songs from the parent album, it was at least possible to play live, no matter how much of a mood killer it was after Wrong. It was last played at the gig at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf on 27th February 2010 and I imagine we won't hear it again. 

Fragile Tension first came to everyone's attention when a leak of a remix landed on the internet causing vast swathes of the Depeche Mode fanbase to start foaming at the mouth, outraged at this synthpop atrocity. Imagine getting that angry then hearing Sounds Of The Universe. I have always liked the song really, albeit that is perhaps in the context of what surrounds it on the album. It's a decent enough track, filled with Martin's then en vogue glittering soul bathed in light lyrics and I defy anyone to to listen to the harmonies on the last verse ("There's a dizzying feeling...") and not smile. 

As Fragile Tension was from Sounds Of The Universe, it was obviously not going to work live and duly didn't. It was only played live once on 24th July 2009 at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto and hasn't been seen since.

The Videos




There was an article in the LA Times on on 30th September 2009 entitled "Eric Wareheim Directs New Depeche Mode Video, Some Fans Say It's The Worst Ever."  As headlines go, it's pretty descriptive although it doesn't say whether it's the worst Depeche Mode video ever or the worst vide ever full stop. The video makes a persuasive case for the latter option.

Eric Wareheim, for those who like me have no idea who he is, is an American comedian. Let's hope his comedy skills are superior to his video directing skills as this video is an absolute disaster. Remember I had a go at Peace for only showing the band via a Depeche Mode T-shirt and a poster? Well this one doesn't feature them at all in any shape whatsoever, at least as far as I could tell as my eyes were blurred with fury and tears when you all forced me to watch this.

We open innocently enough on a very snazzily dressed cover band who are miming along to Hole To Feed, looking as excited as you'd expect anyone would be miming along to that song. They have a dance routine to go along with the song too but that does nothing for the static, bored crowd. No amount of Hole To Feed jiving can distract them from the song. 

Hang on....the crowd have all turned around. What could be more interesting to watch than a futuristic dance routine performing Depeche Mode covers band?

(Brace yourselves)

It's two people licking each other's faces.

Two
People
Licking
Each
Other's
Faces

Now, up until this precise moment in Depeche's career we have had some odd stuff in videos, things you think that only people with a deep understanding of art and its many concepts get. We've had some terrible rubbish as well obviously but even Peace had a theme that you could link with the song it was attempting to represent. This is just two people licking each other's faces in a nightclub and it is both repugnant and, well, just crap.

Oh but that's not the end of it. Oh no.

The lickers keep licking, the crowd of perverts keep watching and the band keep playing. Does the licking force people to look away? No, quite the opposite. Another couple start to do it and then another, and then another and then they're all at it.

You are watching a room full of people licking each other's faces. In a Depeche Mode video. This is the band who had the Enjoy The Silence video. They had the Strangelove one. Christ, they even had the Master & Servant one - at least it was entertaining. They may have all been mucking around in chains but no-one was licking each other. WHO ON EARTH APPROVED THIS VIDEO AND WHY ARE THERE SO MANY TONGUES IN IT? 

It just keeps on going.

We leave the club and find that everyone outside the club in whatever hellscape this video is taking place in is at too. EVERYONE IS LICKING EVERYONE ELSE. STOP ALL OF THIS. WHY IS NO-ONE CALLING THE POLICE?

It's beyond grim by this point. You start to question the value of having a tongue as you certainly don't want yours involved in this sort of thing, The concept of a tongue becomes somehing incomprehensible as you watch tongue ricochet off face, tongue smack off cheek all while an actual Depeche Mode song is playing.

You know those dreadful Dave Gahan memes you see online where some deranged fan has put together three pictures of Dave and seems to post the picture on every DM related part of the internet with the words "GOOD MORNING TO EVERY DEPECHE FAN HERE IS THE ANGEL OF MY HEART DAVE. LOVE AND LOVE TO HIM AND ALAN AND MARTIN BUT NOT FLETCH. THEY ARE THE MASTERS AND I AM THEIR SERVANT"? That meme is better than this video.

After what feels like three full lifetimes, the music stops and, thank every God that features in every religion on earth and beyond, the tongues do too. It is over. 

Now, I've no concept of either art or the collected works of Eric Wareheim, but what the hell was that? The song isn't called Tongue To Face or Drool To Cheek so what on earth inspired the worst four minutes of ANY piece of footage that the words Depeche and Mode have ever been connected to? Did the band genuinely see this before it was released? Man alive.

Still, if there's one message we can take from Hole To Feed it's this: when the music stopped, all the bad things stopped too. No Hole To Feed, no grim tongue festival. Perhaps that was the point all along.



There was of course a video for Fragile Tension too. The sheer horror of the Hole To Feed video made me forget everything I know so thank you to Adam on the Depeche Mode Home Facebook page for reminding me of this.

The video actually features Depeche Mode which is a novel concept. Among the many pixels flying around in space we see Dave, Martin and Andy in their live poses - Dave sweaty and singing, Martin bobbing his head around holding a guitar and Fletch waving his arms. 

Nothing else happens really but nothing needs to. There are no tongues so it's the best video here and with the way I'm feeling after Hole To Feed, possibly the best Depeche Mode video there ever has been. More memory eraser than pallet cleanser. Thank you Fragile Tension.

The Formats


If you're still with me, it's time to move to Format Corner. It's a safe, tongue free space. There were only two official formats and one promo so we'll be quick about this and then we can put all of this nonsense behind us for ever.

There is an eight track promo CD, PCDBONG42.


It comes in a card sleeve.


The eight songs it conatins are the same ones as we will find on the official CD.


Here's CDBONG42. It comes in a jewel box and has a hole on the front to represent Fragile Tension. Ho, ho etc.


There's a colourful booklet and sleeve under the CD tray (that definitely has a name but I can't remember it) as well as a plainish CD.


I've just listened to the CD as I couldn't remember what any of the tracks sounded like. That was fun. What's on there is:
Fragile Tension (Radio Edit) - second best thing on here
Hole To Feed (Radio Edit) - third best thing here which says more about the remixes than anything else
Perfect (Roger Sanchez Club Mix) - standard club mix rubbish. A bland song remixed blandly
Come Back (Sixtoes Remix) - The best thing on here. It's different so it wins.
Fragile Tension (Laidback Luke Remix) - Rubbish
Hole To Feed (Popof Vocal Mix) - more piss off than Popof
Fragile Tension (Peter Bjorn & John Remix) - Remember Peter Bjorn & John? Smug whistling tune that was popular for about a week. Well they smugly ad their own vocals here in this shoddy nonsense. At least there's no whistling.
Hole To Feed (Joebot Remix) - just no


The 12", 12BONG42 is a double 12" and, the music on each record aside, it's a lovely thing with a clever trick on Side D. The front cover is above - the Hole To Feed side.


There's the other side. As you will see, Fragile Tension comes first there, despite there being a hole drawn on the cover.


Sides A and C are pictured above.


And there are Sides B and D, more of the latter shortly. There are a few remixes on here that aren't on the CD so I listened to them too. Each one of you owes me a drink. They are:

Side A
Fragile Tension (Stephan Bodzin Remix) - does nothing, goes nowhere
Fragile Tension (Kris Menace's Love On Laserdisc Remix) - starts off interestingly then quickly stops being interesting.

Side B
Hole To Feed (Popof Vocal Mix) - see above 
Hole To Feed (Paul Woolford's Easyfun Ethereal Disco Mix) - That ain't nodisco

Side C
Perfect (Roger Sanchez Club Mix) - club foot more like. See above
Perfect (Ralphi Rosario Dub) - worse than the Sanchez remix which is almost impressive.

Side D


Remember that there was no 12" for Peace? Well, Side D features two terrible remixes of that track (Herve's "Warehouse Frequencies" Remix and Sander Van Doorn Remix) but in an act of genius, the matrix of the record (the run out groove bit for people who rightly don't concern themselves with things like that) says 12BONG41 as the photo above barely illustrates. It's like a secret Peace 12". That sort of thing tickles me and, let's be honest, I deserve all the happiness I can get after that video.

If you want this 12", there are currently 15 versions on sale on Discogs starting at £65! Good lord.

As well as these releases, there were two UK download packs too. iBONG42 and LiBONG42 take all of the remixes above and add Perfect (Ralphi & Craig Club Mix), Fragile Tension (Solo Loves Panorama Remix) and Perfect (Ralphi & Jody Club Mix).  I imagine they are all dreadful.

The formats above aside, there were four CD-Rs in the UK and one in the US where the single didn't get an official release.


And with that, we get past Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension. It is more of a "let's get rid of all the Sounds Of The Universe remixes" than a single release but the 12" is a lovely thing and the nice touch of 12BONG41 appearing on Side D brings something nice to the party.

Musically, the whole package is mainly awful however and as for the video, I don't know. I never want to see that again.

We'd next here from Depeche Mode in 2011 when the newly remixed Personal Jesus would remind us all that remixes were better in the old days. We'll look at that, the last ever BONG, next time.

Monday, 8 November 2021

DEPECHE MODE - THE SINGLES 1981 TO 2021 PART 48: PEACE

 


The second single from Sounds Of The Universe, Peace really is an odd thing. It's a distinctly non-Depeche Mode sounding song yet was used as one of the preview tracks when the band held the press conference to announce the album and tour. It was rarely played live as we shall see, and it has a video that does not feature the band at all. Don't worry, we'll get to that.

It's also the only Depeche Mode single that has had hat related merchandise.

It's got a lot going on then which you would think makes it an interesting choice of single. That's not the case sadly. Peace is probably the strangest and weakest single Depeche Mode have released and I include The Meaning Of Love in that. Here we go then.

I'M LEAVING BITTERNESS BEHIND - PEACE

The Single


Peace, BONG41, was released on 15th June 2009. Curiously, Martin described it at the time as one of his favourite songs that he had written, clearly forgetting everything else he'd written before that. The reviews of the song had an air of positivity to them. The BBC said:

"It IS a dirge, but it is a good dirge."

As an aside, that review also features the line "Dave Gahan, who can occasionally sound like a singing nose" which is both probably rude and rather amusing at the same time.

Pitchfork claimed the song "(sounds) like Kraftwerk gone dreamy gospel" and went on to call it "a stirring encapsulation of all Depeche Mode's different sides and qualities, reminiscent of all those other great album tracks lurking throughout their catalogue." Hmmmm.

Spin Magazine said that Peace "coast(s) along on the kind of catch synthpop groove Depeche Mode speacialised in throughout the 80's." 

My problem is that I'm not a reviewer able to view Depeche Mode as a band I quite like thus giving me a chance to consider the songs and let them grow on me. Like much of the underwhelming Sounds Of The Universe, I didn't take to Peace from the off and that's never really changed. I ultimately expect better of the band because of what they mean to me, though I obviously have no right to. Had Peace just stayed as an album track, or even as an extra track on the boxset, then I would probably have forgotten it. Quite why they chose it as a single really is beyond me.

One novel thing Peace did was produce a unique piece of Depeche merchandise. The first full gig on Tour Of The Universe was at Tel Aviv's Ramat Gan Stadium on 10th May 2009, the band choosing to open the tour there having had to cancelled a scheduled gig in 2006 due to the Israel/Lebanon war that year. For this show only, the band made two Peace Kippahs available. You could get one in black:

Picture courtesy of depmod.com

You could also get a white one:

Picture courtesy of depmod,com

As far as I know, this is the first hat based merchandise released for a Depeche single. I await the emails reminding me about the It's Called A Heart bowler hats released in Belgium and so on. The Peace Kippah is a nice, unique item and merits mention here not just because it means I don't have to talk about the song itself.

The band of course did nothing to promote the song and as a consequence it rather unhappily limped into the UK charts at number 57 and then fell out again immediately, equalling Dreaming Of Me as the band's lowest ever chart placing. 

The song has only been played live 22 times which seems around 22 times too many as it didn't work live at all. It was last heard in Bilbao on 9th July 2009.

There was a B-Side too. Come Back (Jonsi Remix)  is a remix of the Dave song by Sigur Ros singer Jonsi Birgisson and it's rather nice. Not quite fully on Sigur Ros gorgeousness but not too shabby. 

The Video


*sigh*

We've previously seen Depeche Mode: dressed in leather and drinking cocktails, hanging around in phone boxes, pie eyed, bouncing on spacehoppers, talking to milkmen, standing under a big hand in Berlin, in caves, on a big boat, mucking about in chains, on stage, accompanied by a piano, floating around, running away from voodoo people, hitting cars, on stage again this time in Dublin, finally meeting Anton, in Paris, in Denmark, in France, in London, being cowboys, dressed in leather again, chasing women in New York, all bearded up, with scary people ice skating, dressed as monks, chained to chairs, in Morocco, as a covers band, in a hotel, in an old coal mine, in a very bad car insurance advert, in a car again, down the disco, on a lorry, in a studio saying goodnight, badly computer generated, on a very badly computer generated boat, at the race track, back with Anton, on stage and ,finally, compiled....

*breathes in*

but we have never seen as lazy and pointless a video as this one. At least the videos for Enjoy The Silence (Reinterpreted) and Martyr used actual moving footage of Depeche Mode. This video, which was directed by French duo Jonas and Francois, uses a Depeche Mode T-Shirt and a poster of the band both of which we see for about 10 seconds combined. Other than that it tells the story of a soldier, played by Maria Dinelescu, who seems to be sad about being a soldier but then a vision where she sees that if she gets in the car with her mates she'll end up working in a cafe and will be even sadder as a result.

She therefore goes back to being a soldier. Peace, it seems, will only come to her if she goes back to the army. But, and here's the clever part, can you ever be at Peace if you are in the army? They don't do Peace do they? Deep man.

Honestly, if one thing sums up the slovenly approach to just about everything, Wrong aside the band had during the Sounds Of The Universe era, the Peace video is it. Forget the album that was both filled with average songs and far too long, forget the fact that they put all the good songs on the limited edition boxset, forget the way they butchered Strangelove, Master & Servant and Fly On The Windscreen on the tour. If you want this era summed up, the Peace video is all you need to see.

The Hole To Feed video looks like Enjoy The Silence by comparison for goodness' sake.

Ok, well maybe not, but you get my point.

The Formats


There were only three official formats for Peace and it was the first Depeche Mode single since Dreaming Of Me not to have a 12" release. Yet another Dreaming Of Me similarity - how strange. 5 copies of a white label 12" were made and were given away via the band's Twitter account. There was no promo 12" but there were a couple of promos too, the first of which was RCDBONG41 (above).


The cover art and CD are quite nice, using the album artwork in a pleasant enough way.


The one song on here is the Single Version of Peace.


If ever there was a song that screamed "Remix me for club goers," it's this booming number. A Club Promo CD therefore appeared.


PCDBONG41 features eight tracks in all, each one a remix of Peace.


I could tell you about them all, but I'm not going to. The only thing you need to know is that the Single Version of Peace is the best thing about this CD. Imagine that.


One glorious thing about this release is BONG41, the 7" single. As with Wrong, it is a numbered coloured vinyl 7" that says "platte in mehrfarbigem vinyl" on the front which you will recall we all agreed was a wonderful thing last time.


Side A contains the Single Version of Peace.


Side B has the Jonsi Remix of Come Back. Nice to see an album track remix appearing as a B-Side - that always appeals to me for some reason.


There were two CD singles too starting with CDBONG41 (above).


It's a two track release.


As well as the Single Version of Peace, it features the Six Toes Remix of the track which is the best remix of all on this release. It's different which is the key really. If you are a fan of the remix, do check Low Guns, the song Six Toes released with Dave on vocals. It's tremendous.


LCDBONG41 is a CD that promises "Remixes."


That's what it gives us too - six of them in fact.


They are: Single Version, Herve's "Warehouse Frequencies" Remix, Sander Van Doorn Remix, Japanese Popstars Remix, Sid LeRock Remix and Justus Kohncke Extended Disco Club Vocal Remix.

Leaving the Single Version to one side, every remix on here is absolutely terrible. That's almost impressive in a way.

There were to download bundles too. iBONG41 contains all the horrors found on LCDBONG41 and LiBONG41 has these versions of Peace: Single version, Sander Van Doorn Remix, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable JK Disco Dub, Pan/Tone Remix and Ben Klock Remix. Don't bother with it. 

The only other official release wss in the Ukraine where they put a sticker on the front of LCDBONG41 that said something in Ukrainian, probably "Don't buy this" or similar.

There are two promo CD-Rs if you want them - one from Greece and one from the UK. The single was not released in the US. For some reason, they chose Perfect which is worse than Peace but as this is a UK releases only project, we don't need to concern ourselves with that.


I've been accused of being a blinkered DM cheerleader in the past and when I've had a go at certain releases, for example the MODE boxset, I've been told I shouldn't criticise the band and that I'm "a fake fan," so you can't win really. I'm not going to review all these singles and say that every one is a classic as that would be wrong. Depeche Mode have an unusually high proportion of outstanding singles so when there is a bad one, it sticks out.

Peace is a bad one. There are no two ways about it. Some people like the song and that's great but I don't. There wasn't a great deal to choose from on Sounds Of The Universe right enough, but there must have been something a bit better than this.

Next time, we'll get a double 12" that is curiously pricey and, yes, we get that song and video too.