In praise of...Music for the Masses by Depeche Mode

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and also this basic as hell guitar part which is ALL YOU NEED. It's like Gore loved playing anti-solos.

hey now, this may be true Ned, but if i'm remembering rightly this album was the first real use on DM records of any "guitar parts" full stop? and Martin was actually still learning to play i think, so it may have been basic as much from ability as intention. can't argue with the end result in any case though.

but, ah this just reminded me of some friends back in the day who always sang pimpf as "more..... beeer". brain surgeons, them.

Kim (Kim), Monday, 24 October 2005 02:40 (8 years ago) Permalink

and Martin was actually still learning to play i think

Martin learned how to play guitar when he was ten or so. ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 02:49 (8 years ago) Permalink

I like Black Celebration the best - despite its reputation for darkness I think it's their best pop album... it's much cheesier than most people give it credit for

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 24 October 2005 02:49 (8 years ago) Permalink

well i stand corrected then. (i was right about them not *using* them prev. to that tho?)

Kim (Kim), Monday, 24 October 2005 03:07 (8 years ago) Permalink

The first guitar I can think of used on a Depeche track comes with a couple of brief bits during the instrumental break on "Love In Itself," beyond that I'm not sure.

By all accounts Martin composes most of his songs on acoustic or electric guitar, and he's well known for apparently always having a guitar with him or nearby, so it's not like he's afraid of the darn things. ;-) So in ways that's why I'm impressed with him as a guitarist -- he aims for the killer hook first and foremost, which in large part is why Depeche songs with guitar feature just that hook and nothing more, in that nothing more is needed. "Enjoy the Silence" is the almost paradigmatic example...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 03:12 (8 years ago) Permalink

no waaaayyyyy, there's guitar in that song?! i'll have to relisten and get back to you.

Kim (Kim), Monday, 24 October 2005 12:14 (8 years ago) Permalink

Heh, it's quite clear! The break basically alternates between four 'acoustic' bits -- some piano, a little guitar filigree, more piano, and then a soft, glam-descend-like guitar bit, and then back to Dave. None of these parts is longer than a couple of seconds, but they're not buried, and they're great additions to the song.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 13:15 (8 years ago) Permalink

Never close to my favourite album by Depeche Mode (as a matter of fact, the only album I like less is SOFAD), but I joined this thread to praise just one song: "The Things You Said" is one of the best things they ever did. An absolutely perfectly sad and desparate song, backed with synths that sounded like synths for once. One of their best ever moments.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 24 October 2005 14:43 (8 years ago) Permalink

As far as I'm concerned, Depeche Mode as an album band does not exist before Construction Time Again. I really really dislike those first two albums (even though there are some songs that exhibit the greatness they would grow into on there, listening to either of those albums in their entirety makes me want to scream).

The Ghost of Black Elegance (Dan Perry), Monday, 24 October 2005 14:55 (8 years ago) Permalink

An absolutely perfectly sad and desparate song ... one of their best ever moments

yes. absolutely.

I really really dislike those first two albums

i have a soft spot for "speak and spell", although i think the non-album tracks that were later included on the CD (ice machine, shout, the instrumental any second now) are better than anything on the album proper. but there's an oddly beguiling mix of innocence and homo-eroticism about the whole affair that makes it more than the sum of its parts.

and "puppets" is quite simply ace.

i have "a broken frame" on cassette and "some great reward" on badly scratched vinyl, so those are the two i listen to the least (ie haven't listened to in years). the fact i've never bothered to get them on any other format says a lot; that said, my tastes have changed hugely since my early mode-buying days (14 years ago, mostly) so i know i should revisit them. IIRC there was one song towards the end of "broken frame" with an absolutely killer melody; and, as i think i said somewhere else, "precious" reminds me of it slightly.

i still don't own "ultra" and haven't heard it in its entirety. my bad.

grimly fiendish (grimlord), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:04 (8 years ago) Permalink

Ultra is easily the best of their 90s albums IMO; it's much more cohesive than SOFAD and it isn't completely forgettable two weeks later the way that Exciter is.

You should totally give Some Great Reward another spin, especially for "Lie To Me", "If You Want" and "Stories Of Old".

The Ghost of Black Elegance (Dan Perry), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:11 (8 years ago) Permalink

I still rate Violator over Ultra in terms of the nineties albums but Ultra is really something, keeps getting better every time I hear it. Some older thoughts.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:14 (8 years ago) Permalink

Violator is really, really excellent but there's something about the level of familiarity I have with it that may cause me to unfairly underrate it.

The Ghost of Black Elegance (Dan Perry), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:18 (8 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, you. *beats Dan down*

Strictly speaking I love all the Depeche albums YES THAT INCLUDES THE FIRST TWO but there are those that are clearly a cut above. Ultra is one, Playing the Angel is another.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:21 (8 years ago) Permalink

Ultra is a little bloated -- it's an hour in length and it feels like a LONG hour when you listen to it all the way through. Compared to their other great albums (including "Playing the Angel") the songs sound same-y. I'm sure they wanted to capture a particular mood that would seep throughout the whole album, but "Playing the Angel" shows that they can do that while still utilising a large palette of different sounds. while Some of those five/six minute tracks could lose a minute or two, and the album could stand to lose about two tracks and 10-15 minutes. It's the only DM album that I would criticise for being too long (I believe it is their longest?)

Still, the good stuff on it is *fucking great* (the singles, THE BOTTOM LINE, Insight ...) so I love it despite its many flaws.

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:38 (8 years ago) Permalink

You're weird sir. (More specifically, let's hear you name a couple of songs to drop -- the brief instrumental bits don't count. ;-) )

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:39 (8 years ago) Permalink

You could drop "The Love Thieves" and "Sister of Night" without hurting the album too much.

"Freestate" takes forever to get where it's going, but once it gets there, it's great. They could have chopped a minute or so out of "Home", as well.

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:46 (8 years ago) Permalink

I'm sure somebody will claim that "Sister of Night" is Dave's best vocal on the entire album. That may be true, but the song doesn't measure up to the other tracks on the record.

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:47 (8 years ago) Permalink

If anything, they need to add about 27 minutes into "Home" and make it into "This Corrosion Pt II".

The Ghost of Black Elegance (Dan Perry), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:48 (8 years ago) Permalink

Make it "Insight" instead of "Home" and I'm with you.

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:51 (8 years ago) Permalink

There is no way I'm going to dismiss Martin Gore's best melody line since "A Question Of Lust".

The Ghost of Black Elegance (Dan Perry), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:52 (8 years ago) Permalink

Also, they should have made Jaki Liebezeit a full-time member. Only great things could have come of this.

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:52 (8 years ago) Permalink

I'm sure somebody will claim that "Sister of Night" is Dave's best vocal on the entire album.

That's the one vocal on the album which was recorded when he was still in his smack hell. It's edited together from about thirty takes!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:57 (8 years ago) Permalink

Dan, of course, scathingly right about "Home." That said, Barry scathingly right about "Insight." My only real regret that there was never an actual Ultra tour, understandable though it was, is that "Insight" never got a live airing. I think it is probably my all time favorite Depeche album cut and is definitely my favorite album ender by them.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:58 (8 years ago) Permalink

I just went to the Kim's near Columbia (for those of you familiar with NYC), and they didn't have Music for the Masses on the racks. I ask the guy at the counter if they have it in stock. He looks it up in the computer, and tells me that they don't carry it. Ever. WTF?

Super Cub (Debito), Monday, 24 October 2005 20:28 (8 years ago) Permalink

Abuse him.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 20:29 (8 years ago) Permalink

I was going to say, "How can you not carry one of the quintessential albums of a band that has been hugely popular and influential over the last 25 years?' But then I remembered who their principle clientele is.

Super Cub (Debito), Monday, 24 October 2005 20:44 (8 years ago) Permalink

Dave Matthews Band fans?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 20:46 (8 years ago) Permalink

'Indie' is the largest section in the store. It's about 3 times the size of the R&B section.

Super Cub (Debito), Monday, 24 October 2005 20:57 (8 years ago) Permalink

I don't understand, Ultra only has nine songs! Why would you want to cut any of them??

I think the only one that annoys me even slightly is "Freestate" because I don't really like it when Gore's recent tendency to become positive 'n' preachy - but even then it's only because it feels like it prepares the way for "Freelove", and yeah, the last half is killer. "Barrell of a Gun" occasionally annoys me because it seems a bit try-hard, but then at other times I love the very same thing about it.

"Insight" is awesome, "Sister of Night" is probably better for that huge synth riff than for the singing, but best of all the album tracks is "The Bottom Line" for me.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 24 October 2005 21:25 (8 years ago) Permalink

You could drop "The Love Thieves" and "Sister of Night" without hurting the album too much.

No, you couldn't. "The Love Thieves" is the best track on the entire album.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 24 October 2005 21:27 (8 years ago) Permalink

(Hey wait Tim, have you heard the new album yet? GET IT NOW.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 21:31 (8 years ago) Permalink

just got this. listening now. aw. yay. it's good.

Kim (Kim), Monday, 24 October 2005 22:48 (8 years ago) Permalink

duh, i mean just got the new one! forgot which thread i was on.

Kim (Kim), Monday, 24 October 2005 22:48 (8 years ago) Permalink

If I were as eloquent as Ned, and it weren't 2:30 in the morning, I would write a smilar essay as to why Exciter is the great overlooked Depeche Mode album.

I must agree with whoever posted that I've always loved 'Never Let Me Down Again'. It's just so fucking HUGE. Yes, it is, particularly the version on one of the live DVDs that I have - One Night in Paris? Been a while since I watched it. However, filler such as Pimpf dragges Music for the Masses down as an album, imho.

John Hunter, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 06:34 (8 years ago) Permalink

8 months pass...
Mmm reissue I love you...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 23 July 2006 21:36 (8 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...
as do i .. especially when 3 quid in fopp.

mark e (mark e), Friday, 20 October 2006 13:53 (8 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...
lol ned raggett i love orignal post

a name means a lot just by itself (lfam), Monday, 6 November 2006 06:20 (7 years ago) Permalink

i love that you love this music so much


"Strangelove" is not the single version and that's a good thing, because I like the machine gear loop noise and that barely audible bell-like synth bit then BAM BAM BAM and it's suddenly bass and drums that in its brute simplicity could be, I dunno, Prince 1984 in Eastern Europe or something. Motown 1971 after the apocalypse when the robots took over. The guitar on this one is subtle compared to That Riff on "Never Let Me Down Again" but like on so many later songs it's this lovely shading hiding out amid the strident synth riff that's this unmissable nag nag nag. And the song's about circular codependency of extremism in 'love' or somesuch. I like how at the end there's a part where Gahan calls and responses and then suddenly where his voice 'should' be a sudden high synth bit squirrels across the mix.

a name means a lot just by itself (lfam), Monday, 6 November 2006 06:22 (7 years ago) Permalink

OMG is "A Question of Time" on this one? I'm not really a very big DM fan but that song still appears in my head sometimes at like 7 in the morning and things like that.

All The Furniture Is In The Garage (Bimble...), Monday, 6 November 2006 06:24 (7 years ago) Permalink

No, it's Black Celebration isn't it? Sorry.

All The Furniture Is In The Garage (Bimble...), Monday, 6 November 2006 06:25 (7 years ago) Permalink

i love that you love this music so much

I love you love me love

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 6 November 2006 07:05 (7 years ago) Permalink

3 months pass...
france didn't have francs in 2004 and if they did 6 francs would be almost less than $1 US. a record like 'music for the masses' wouldn't sell for that.

that said, fantastic album

'never let me down again' is an absolute tour de force. one of the most compelling opening tracks around. from there on the record mellows and explores different moods, but everything remains cohesive and intriguing, and on a sheer track by track level, things hold up very nicely. it's a bizarre sort of record, one that is on certain levels quite subtle and self-absorbed and on other levels grandiose and dramatic.

'nothing' is really very lyrically profound. understated in delivery to be sure, but the lyrics demand close atention

Charlie Howard, Thursday, 1 March 2007 16:02 (7 years ago) Permalink

"The Things You Said" is fan-fucking-tastic, as Martin-led songs usually are. Sometimes it's my favorite DM song, but of course that changes every five minutes. :) Does it really have anything to do with the "joys of drug use" though??

I love love love this album. Not quite as flawless as Construction Time Again or Black Celebration but I have no complaints to speak of. It's got great beats.

Curt1s Stephens, Thursday, 1 March 2007 18:36 (7 years ago) Permalink

Oh and also "Nothing" is AMAZING. I really love the synth hook.

Curt1s Stephens, Thursday, 1 March 2007 18:50 (7 years ago) Permalink

Does it really have anything to do with the "joys of drug use" though??


Er, I was referring to "Never Let Me Down Again."

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 1 March 2007 18:51 (7 years ago) Permalink

Oh, yeah, duh.

Curt1s Stephens, Thursday, 1 March 2007 18:53 (7 years ago) Permalink

I still don't see it as my favourite Depeche Mode album. It is partly the entire 1987 aesthetic I dislike (electronic music in the midst of primimtive D50/M1 sampling machines and the DX7 - never liked the sound of those). I also feel like the album wears a bit thin towards the end.

Like I already said, I absolutely love "The Things You Said". I also have a soft spot for "Sacred" and "Nothing", and "Strangelove" sounds great in the album version (as opposed to the somewhat thin-sounding single version that predated it)

"Never Let Me Down Again" and "Behind The Wheel" are just too monotonous for me to enjoy them. I know they are loved by several fans, but I haven't quite gotten the grip. The too-authentic-sounding piano on "Never Let Me Down Again" also puts me off somewhat - somehow it just doesn't sound synthpop/electronic enough. "Behind The Wheel" sounded better in its 7 inch version btw.

"To Have and To Hold" is kind of interesting in a weird way, as is definitely "I Want You Now". Both could have done with a better arrangement, as could definitely "Little 15" - a wonderful ballad that is somehow partly spoiled by a nagging and irritating backing track (particularly at the beginning)

Which leaves us with "Little 15" - probably the most pointless thing they ever did. Would have been better off having been replaced by "Pleasure Little Treasure"; and let me add that I am no fan of "Pleasure Little Treasure" either.

Geir Hongro, Sunday, 4 March 2007 00:48 (7 years ago) Permalink

PRE-D50/M1 sampling machines, is what I was supposed to write in that paranthesis up there.

Geir Hongro, Sunday, 4 March 2007 00:49 (7 years ago) Permalink

Tedious reverence around them aside, when it comes to the music and performances of it, it just bugs, like an itch you can't scratch. I don't find much in the way of personal connection there, in fact really none, maybe a song or two aside.

gershy, Sunday, 4 March 2007 02:21 (7 years ago) Permalink

I've always found 'Blue Dress' and 'Clean' closes the Violator album perfectly. Granted, neither of them are as anthemic as many of the tracks that came before, but those songs are definitely in the right place on the tracklist. The way that 'Blue Dress' segues into 'Clean' via that interlude piece is one of the highlights of the album for me!

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 00:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

Love the video for the album mix of Strangelove. They look so fucking bored in it.

Dale, dale, dale (Abbbottt), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 01:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

Also I love that they're projecting this big heart shape on everything but stretched out it's like they're illuminated by a big nutsack.

Dale, dale, dale (Abbbottt), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 01:29 (2 years ago) Permalink


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