Following the release of The Best Of Volume 1, Depeche Mode were fairly silent with the exception of Dave's second solo album Hourglass and its remix companion. Their return in 2009 was therefore greeted with great excitement and the new single Wrong promised much.
It sounded superb, continuing the lively feel of Playing The Angel, had a remarkable video, had a B-Side co-written by Dave and Martin and had a colour vinyl 7".
Superb then. The new album would surely follow in these footsteps and we'd have a wonderf....oh. Ah. Never mind.
Here's the story of Wrong.
BORN WITH THE WRONG SIGN - WRONG
Wrong, BONG40, was released on 6th April 2009 and was warmly received by Depeche Mode fans. By the time of its release, singles reviews were increasingly rare, so let's see what people made of Wrong when reviewing Sounds Of The Universe.
Entertainment magazine said "Lead single Wrong revisits classic black heart Mode," and Drowned In Sound noted "Wrong’ is kind of bombastic, but its obsessive litany of mistakes is clearly not meant to be taken entirely seriously, plus the music is again nothing if not reined in, an intricately buzzing sculpture."
NME called the song the album's "statutory techno spiritual stomper" and Pitchfork felt the song was "short but deliciously sour, hearkening back to the band's synthier days without losing the layer of grunge it's carefully cultivated post-Violator."
Any other mentions the song had were positive enough. Oddly, many of the album reviews mentioned Spacewalker as a standout track which is rather odd.
One great thing about Wrong was that it saw the band return to live performance on UK television. They appeared on Later...With Jools Holland for the first time on 1st May 2009 and treated us to Wrong, Walking In My Shoes and Personal Jesus. I drove everyone I know insane by reminding them to watch this when it came on.
It's a good performance which is all the more remarkable given that Fletch and Martin were once again replaced by Elton John and Dame Barbara Cartland. Depeche Mode playing live on British televison hadn't happened since 1997 so this was a big thing, despite Martin and Fletch having better things to do.
This relentless (at least by comparison to previous singles) promotion campaign did nothing whatsoever for the single and it spent only two weeks in the UK charts. It went in at 24 and then fell to 78 before falling out of the charts completely. Normally, a Depeche Mode comeback single would do much, much better but Wrong just fell flat entirely which is a shame. It did get to Number 2 in Germany naturally but, even more thrillingly, it got to Number 1 in the Scottish charts. A number 1 single! IN SCOTLAND! That is made even more incredibly by the fact that until tonight I had no idea that (a) we had our own chart in Scotland and (b) Depeche Mode got to Number 1 in it. Still, a number 1 is a number 1, so well done boys.
Wrong is a song I love and it still sounded great on the Global Spirit Tour where it was enthusiastically welcomed back into the set. It has been played live 171 times on that tour (65 times) and, of course on the Tour Of The Universe.
The B-Side, Oh Well, originally entitled Das Toe Stub and featuring music by Martin and lyrics by Dave is a cracking tune and, much like all of the non-album tracks produced in this period, would have made a good addition to Sounds Of The Universe. Instead, it's a B-side here and has never been played live. Remember, Peace and In Sympathy have been played live. There is no justice.
Well, this is a bit different.
Directed by Patrick Daughters, the video depicts a seemingly driverless Ford Crown Victoria rolling backwards down a street in Los Angeles. 50 seconds pass before we see inside the car and, when we do, we see someone lying, seemingly unconscious on the front seat. Around one minute in, the car bumps into a parked car and the body is jerked awake. He sits up and we see that his hands are tied and he's wearing a rubber mask. All very odd.
This video was actually live footage. Determined to ensure that Hole To Feed didn't appear on the forthcoming album, Martin and Fletch kidnapped the Sony A&R man who was really pushing the song and attempted to make sure he was never heard of again.
"If we get rid of him, we get rid of Hole To Feed Fletch. Do that and we can then include Peace on the album."
"Are you sure Mart?"
"Just trust me Fletch."
The luckless A&R man, trapped in a car with Peace playing on a loop seems doomed. He continues rolling backwards and then...help is at hand. At 1 minute 39 he sees Depeche Mode on the pavement, out for an evening stroll before heading to McDonalds for their dinner.
"'Ere Mart, ain't that Bobby Tuppence, that A&R geezer who said Hole To Feed was one of the best songs on the album?"
"Don't think so Dave. "
"It IS him Mart. It's Bobby Tuppence. He seems to be trapped in that car. And what the hell is that music? Poor guy. We have to help him. If he dies as seems inevitable in this remarkable series of events, Hole To Feed won't make the album."
" It's not him Dave. I saw him earlier playing in the room I have that's filled with synths that none of us use. Let's go to McDonalds."
"If you're sure Mart. You like Hole To Feed don't you?"
"All I know Dave is that I want a feed. Let's eat."
Poor Bobby Tuppence. Things get worse for him as he hits a man. He can't even hear him scream as Peace continues its ear melting loop. He continues to struggle and eventually gets his mask off but it's all too late. He's struck by a pick up truck and seemingly killed.
NEVER mess with Martin Gore.
Mercifully for the wallets of collectors, there wasn't much promo action this time round, in Europe and the UK at least. There was no 12" promo which is a pity but there were two promo CDs, the first of which is RCDBONG40 (above).
The sticker on the back makes a number of claims, some true ("Wrong grabs the listener's attention") and some not so true ("a great album to come.")
There is only one track and that's the Radio Version of Wrong. I do like the cover art and the CD design.
The next promo CD is PCDBONG40, the "Club Promo."
It's a nine track CD as you can see.
Nice cover and CD again. The original version of the track aside, only the Trentemoller Club Remix is worth bothering with. The Thin White Duke Remix is ok too.
Onto the official releases then. 12BONG40 comes in a semi glossy sleeve with a glossy logo on both sides. Side A (above) contains the Album Version of Wrong and the Thin White Duke Remix of the track.
Side B features two more Wrong remixes - Trentemoller Club Remix and Caspa Remix.
There were two CD singles. CDBONG40 (above) is a two track release.
It features the Album Version of Wrong and the superb Black Light Odyssey Remix of Oh Well.
LCDBONG40 promises remixes on its cover and that's what we get.
There are five versions of Wrong - Album Version, Trentemoller Club Remix, Thing White Duke Remix, Magda's Scallop Funk Remix and D.I.M. vs Boys Noize Remix.
The 7" is the star here. On the bottom of the front sleeve, the words "platte in mehrfarbigem vinyl" appear. This takes us back to the West Germany of the 1980's when many splendid Depeche Mode singles were released with those words appearing on a sticker on the sleeve. Roughly translated, it means that the record inside the sleeve appears in multicoloured vinyl. Crikey.
And that is exactly what BONG40 does. The 7" is a red and black record albeit more red than black with the latter swirling through the red. On Side A we have the Album Version of Wrong.
Side B features Oh Well (Edit). As you'll see, the single is numbered too.
In the UK, the digital release of the single took the tracks from LCDBONG40 and added the Thin White Duke Dub too. A couple of promo CD-Rs and a promo DVD-R are available somewhere. In Europe, Germany released a version of LCDBONG40.
It comes in a jewel box rather than a cardboard sleeve and, delightfully, its catalogue number is GLCDBONG40. Lovely stuff. The only other releases were in Taiwan where they popped a Taiwanese sticker on LCDBONG40 and an Israeli one on CDBONG40. Promos were released in Colombia (that's a first) and Denmark. A promo CD-R appeared in Japan and they released a version of RCDBONG40 with a Japanese sticker on the front too.
In the US, the song was released digitally only though there is a promo CD and three promo CD-Rs exist too.
Wrong really is an odd release. It's not that representative of Sounds Of The Universe so doesn't give much of a taste of what's to come. It's a cracking song with a critically acclaimed video but did very badly in the UK charts despite having some decent formats
It did get to Number 1 in Scotland though. You can always trust us.
Next up it's Peace and, despite the regular go I have at Hole To Feed, I can say one thing for certain. Peace is easily the worst single Depeche Mode have released.
That will be fun then.