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
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.
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....
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.
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.