It had been more than three and a half years since we last heard from Depeche Mode when their comeback was announced. Their return with a new album Spirit was said to see a return to the political themes of Construction Time Again and lead single Where's The Revolution seemed to fit that theme perfectly.
With this single, we got a boatload of remixes, snazzy beards and a brief return for the Basildon Boyzone with their snazzy train dance. Let's get on board Where's The Revolution.
THE TRAIN IS COMING - WHERE'S THE REVOLUTION
Where's The Revolution was released digitally on 3rd February 2017 having been premiered at midnight that day on Polish radio station Trojka. Remixes of the song and the two physical formats would follow in March and April.
Of Where's The Revolution, The Guardian said it "attempts to turn their ability to rouse stadiums with sleazily paced anthemics into a galvanising force: “Come on people, you’re letting me down,” complains the chorus, while elsewhere the lyrics borrow from the Impressions’ People Get Ready."
Pitchfork were fairly positive about the track:
"Depeche Mode deliver anthems with such proficiency that sincerity barely matters. A song like “Where’s the Revolution” makes you feel like singing in response to today’s headlines. Depeche Mode still make universal, stadium-sized music that’s limber enough to fit through your bedroom doorframe, as if it had been conceived with your life in mind."
Mixmag said the song was "among the most anthemic things Depeche Mode have done this century, apocalyptic both in sound and lyrics and perfect for these dark times."
Finally, Consequence said:
"Lead single “Where’s the Revolution?” has a appealing, nasty slap to the music but gets stuck on its title, tut-tutting the global community (“C’mon people you’re letting me down”) and then urging us to get on board the train"
Relatively favourable overall really. Most reviews of Spirit tended to be positive and Where's The Revolution certainly grabbed people's attention.
|Photo by Alex Pollock from his Depeche Mode Facebook Takeover day|
The band appeared on Swedish TV show Skavlan on 31st March and treated us to a live performance of the song:
This gave us a preview of what was to come on the Global Spirit tour with Dave slinking all over the place proudly showing off his new pencil moustache. Martin bobs around looking as cool as he has done in years and Fletch shows us that four years away from the keyboards haven't diminished his Fletching one bit. Peter is there of course too and Christian still sounds like a man with far too many tom toms. A decent performance though and it was great to see them back.
The promo work was restricted to a few appearances like the one above and another on novelty pork pie in a suit J**** C*****'s bewilderingly popular show. It also featured on the pre tour gigs such as the one that shall forever be known as The Greatest Gig Of All Time Ever at the Barrowlands in Glasgow. Have I ever mentioned I was there? The song didn't chart in the UK but did make number 76 in the official Scottish charts which genuinely seem to be a thing. The ever Depeche thirsty Hungarians fired the song to number 3 in their charts, it's best global performance chart wise.
Where's The Revolution is a good track and I was excited by it when it came out. it was good to have the band return on spiky form rather than in Heaven mode and only a year after the twin horrors of the disastrous Brexit vote and the rise of Trump, having Depeche Mode lead the revolution seemed no bad thing at all.
The one thing that let the song down was its live performance really. Despite the bespoke film and Dave's dance from the second floor of the song didn't ignite and tended to slow gigs down a little. It featured 114 times on the tour proper, giving way for some of the later festival dates but returning for the last two nights in Berlin. It was last heard on 25th July 2018 and I don't imagine we'll hear it again.
This was novel - a Depeche Mode video that actually featured Depeche Mode. Anton returned and brought the band back with him too to decent effect.
After the Delta Machine tour concluded, the band vowed that they wouldn't shave again until they next met up, imagining that they'd be back together soon. That proved an unwise decision however and, as the video opens, we find them all with three years beard growth. If that wasn't enough to make them angry, they also find out that, having bid in secret against each other on Alan's auction, they'd all bought the old tour t-shirts and acetates. Furious with themselves, they shake their fists and start pushing the box of Wilder goodies away, out of harm's reach.
News of this purchase had reached Depeche Mode collectors though and that was bad thing. The Black Swarm summoned its best team of Wilder fanatics and these black clad collectors desperate for anything Alan Wilder might have touched come after the band. Curiously, they choose to do so, slowly and in a curious dance formation. Still, those It's Called A Heart acetates will not be destroyed.
Depeche take this threat seriously. The only way to talk these fans of big hair and leather down is to have a shave for the first time since 2014 and for Dave to preach to them with Martin and Fletch standing guard. Dave will turn them back. "No-one actually wants or needs acetates for God's sake. Go away," he (possibly) shouts.
It seems to work. The Black Swarm start formation dancing to In Your Memory in an attempt to overpower the Wilderless Mode but they fail. The sheer power of Where's The Revolution sends them away scuttling back to their Recoil albums and Depeche keep on pushing the box of auction winnings away.
Hang on - what's this? More Black Swarm attack, this time with flags. These are the hardcore Wilder fans and they are going to use semaphore to distract the band and get enough time to get their hands on a cymbal used on the Devotional tour and a pair on unwashed stage trousers. They start signalling the lyrics to The Landscape Is Chaning and it nearly works as Fletch starts humming along. Dave and Martin save the day, as Dave gets back up on his box and again starts singing at the flag waving women who by this point are demented with Wilder based lust. It works.
The only way they can get out of here is by escaping in disguise. They laboriously glue their shorn beards back on and decide to make a break for it. The dancing of earlier has had an effect on them though and, just as they had done in the Everything Counts and Master And Servant videos, the Basildon Boyzone re-emerge and perform what can only be described as a spirited but generally very bad dance. This surely won't help anyone.
It doesn't. The Black Swarm hear this and attack again, this time together. A vicious attack is made by dance and semaphore. Depeche Mode look doomed - all those Wilder goodies are surely lost? Depeche Mode are made of tough stuff though and they stand firm, Martin with guitar in hand and Dave in his Global Spirit stage gear. They sing Where's The Revolution at the Wilder crazed hordes one more time and that sees them off.
Victorious but still scared, the band re-apply their beards and head off to destroy the loot, pausing only to show off the flags they took from the Swarm, the spoils of a bitter war. One day, all sides of the Depeche Mode fanbase will learn to live together in peace.
There were only two offical formats this time round - a CD single (above) and a double 12".
Lessons had been learned from the last couple of singles it seems as there are some decent remixes this time round. There are five tracks on the CD, all remixes of Where's The Revolution:
1. Album Version
2. Ewan Pearson Remix - bleepy and quite enjoyable
3. Algiers Remix - a remix by the band Algiers who supported on some Global Spirit Tour dates. If you are a fan of that band, as I am , you'll like this. It's a nice 7" style take on the song with some great noises.
4. Terence Fixmer Remix - not up to much really
5. Autolux Remix - another 7" style remix in length. It's a bit grating in place.
The double 12" is a nice package. Sides A and C are pictured above. It comes in a sleeve with a wide opening rather than a gatefold.
Sides B and D have an M on them as you can see. There are nine tracks in all here and if we are to be thankful for anything, let's be thankful for the fact it's a million miles away from the dark horrors of the Should Be Higher 12". The tracks are:
1. Autolux Remix - see above
2. Pearson Sound Remix - the slowed down vocal on this makes this an updated version of It's Called A Heart (Slow Mix) and not much more
1. Algiers Click Farm Remix - a second Algiers appearance but sadly not up to the standard of the first one
2. Simian Mobile Disco Remix - producer James Ford's day job remix the song. It's a bit bland but picks up towards the end.
3. Pearson Sound Beatless Remix - if I'd wanted to hear Treefingers by Radiohead, I'd play Kid A.
1. Simian Mobile Disco Dub - a less punchy version of the remix from Side B
2. Terence Fixmer Spatial Mix - you know it's a bad remix when it takes the very rare appearance of a brief bit of the song it's remixing to make you remember what this is meant to be in the first place.
1. Patrice Baumel Remix - really rather good
2. Ewan Pearson Kompromat Dub - again not too bad.
The single was released on CD in Taiwan once again and popped up on a one track promo CDR too. Everything was available digitally of course.
There is a 7" single too however. It was made available with the German music magazine Musikexpress.
The cover explains what you have on it.
On the A-side, there is the album version of Where's The Revolution.
On the B-Side, we have Should Be Higher recorded live in Berlin on 25th and 27th November 2013. That doesn't mean it's two versions by the way - it's taken from those two shows.
Depeche Mode were back then and on good form. Spirit would soon follow and while I might not be as wildly enthusiastic about it as I was at the time, there is enough on that album to show that there is life in Depeche Mode yet.
The band set off on the huge Global Spirit Tour, leading to them having their biggest touring success yet and to me nearly breaking the internet and myself with the Global Spirit Tour Project.
There were two more singles to come from the album, and we'll go backwards to 2017 (ho ho) and have a look at the next single next time,