Depeche Mode haven’t been able to get out and play much this year, and nor have they had the opportunity to create anything new for us for a while. That doesn’t mean that they’ve been inactive, though. For the past few months, Dave Gahan and company have been rooting through their own enormous back catalog and hand-picking songs to release as 12-inch vinyl singles, and they’ve finally made it to one of their all-time classic albums. That’s right – “Songs of Faith and Devotion” has been opened up, and the singles are being re-examined and presented with fresh or little-known remixes for our consumption and enjoyment.
“Songs of Faith and Devotion” was a watershed moment for the band as they revealed a dramatic change in their sound from the electro-pop of “Violator” to a darker, dirtier, more industrial style. “Violator” still remains influential – just check out the soundtrack to almost any electronica game at an online slots website if you don’t believe us about that – but “Songs of Faith and Devotion” tops more ‘favorite album’ polls among Depeche Mode fans. This is not, by contrast, an album that you’d use to soundtrack online slots games (unless Depeche Mode were ever to release an officially licensed Paypal slots of their own, which is frankly long overdue), but something grimier, grittier, and far more disturbing. It’s not an easy listen, but it is a powerful one.
You can probably pick up on our opinion of “Songs of Faith and Devotion” from the tone of this article, but we appreciate that not everybody is a fan. When a band changes style so dramatically it can alienate fans, and even the band struggled to stay with the new style for long, eventually returning to a gentler sound by 2005’s “Playing the Angel.” Some Depeche Mode ‘purists’ have so much disdain for the album that they selectively ignore it. You need only look at the so-called list of the top ten Depeche Mode songs of all time in Far Out Magazine, for example. There isn’t a single song from the album on it. No “I Feel You,” no “Condemnation,” no nothing. The songs that did make the cut, for those interested, were “Personal Jesus,” “Policy of Truth,” “Master & Servant,” “Just Can’t Get Enough,” “Stripped,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” “Enjoy the Silence,” “Precious,” People Are People,” and “Everything Counts,” in that order. We’ll let you pick the bones out of that.
Moving away from the controversy around the album and back to the newly-released vinyl, this looks like a must-buy for any fan of the band who enjoyed that time in their career. A whole eight vinyl discs are to be released, and (as one would expect) the songs featured on them are “Walking In My Shoes,” “In Your Room,” “I Feel You,” and “Condemnation.” The original B-sides to each of the singles have also been included, along with selected live versions where possible and remixes in every case. These are all ‘new’ versions of the songs that have been taken from the original recordings and then remastered. Each of the four singles will have two vinyl discs devoted to it – so we should probably take them one at a time and let you know what you’ll be getting for your money. All eight of them will be released on October 30th. We don’t yet have pricing information available for the discs, but we would expect that they’ll be charged at premium rates. Don’t expect to grab a bargain!
The first disc is all about “I Feel You.” In order, it contains the Throb mix, Seven Inch mix, and Babylon mix of the song, along with “One Caress,” which was the song’s original B-side on its first release. The second disc, also dedicated to “I Feel You,” doesn’t have the B-side. Instead, you get the Life’s Too Short mix, the Swamp mix, the Helmet at the Helm mix, and the delightfully-titled Renegade Soundwave Afghan Surgery mix.
Moving on to disc three, we find “Walking In My Shoes,” and more examples of alarming remix names. There’s the Grungy Gonads mix and the Seven Inch mix of the song, accompanied by two mixes of the B-side “My Joy.” You get the Seven Inch mix, and also the Slow Slide mix of that. As was the case with “I Feel You,” the second “Walking In My Shoes” disc contains nothing but four versions of the song. You’ll get the Extended Twelve Inch mix, the Random Carpet mix, the Anandamidic mix, and the Ambient Whale mix.
Continuing to move through the discs in order, we get a break from the norm with the first “Condemnation,” mix, which comes with five tracks and only one version of the title track. We get the Paris mix of “Condemnation” itself, followed by “Death’s Door” (Jazz mix), and three versions of “Rush.” For those keeping score, it’s the Spiritual Guidance mix, the Amylnitrate mix, and the Wild Planet mix. The latter of those is vocal-only, which ought to be a strange listening experience. The other “Condemnation” disc might be the highlight of the whole collection – it contains live versions of “Condemnation,” “Personal Jesus,” “Enjoy the Silence,” and “Halo.” As anyone who’s ever seen Depeche Mode already knows, they’re an incredible live act. If these live versions have been picked because they’re from the ‘best of the best’ category of live performances.
That leaves us with “In Your Room,” the first disc of which contains the Zephyr mix, Apex mix, and Jeep Rock mix of the song, along with the Adrenaline Mix of “Higher Love,” and a further ‘extended’ Zephr mix of “In Your Room” to polish things off. Over on the other disc, we have a mini-album’s worth of content, and it’s all live. The tracklisting is “in Your Room,” “Policy of Truth,” “World in my Eyes,” Fly on the Windscreen,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” and “Death’s Door.” Forget what we just said about “Condemnation” – we’ve decided that this is actually our favorite among the collection as we’ve been writing all of this down.
If that still isn’t enough Depeche Mode for you, there’s more to find online. Over the summer, they released their entire “Live Spirits” concert to YouTube in full, making the whole performance available free of charge for the first time. It’s an incredible concert and one that’s well worth taking the time to sit down and watch from start to finish whenever you get the chance. In a year where you can’t go out and see Depeche Mode in the flesh, this is definitely the next best thing. Hopefully, that’s enough Depeche Mode news to keep you happy for now, but we’ll be sure to bring you more whenever it arrives!
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