Depeche Mode - Ultra

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
It's No Good 6
Useless 4
The Love Thieves 3
Barrel Of A Gun 2
Home 2
Insight 2
Freestate 1
The Bottom Line 0
Jazz Thieves 0
Sister Of Night 0
Uselink 0
Junior Painkiller (unlisted track) 0


...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Sunday, 10 August 2014 22:38 (eight years ago) link

The Love Thieves by a mile.

piscesx, Monday, 11 August 2014 12:30 (eight years ago) link

"It's No Good" by a mile.

"Insight" is a great closer though, and I'm quite partial to "The Bottom Line".

Gret album.

Tim F, Monday, 11 August 2014 13:50 (eight years ago) link

Adore Tim Simenon's (tweaking of DM's) sound on this album, one of the most inspired act/producer pairings I can think of.

Tim F, Monday, 11 August 2014 13:51 (eight years ago) link

there are so many good songs on this album

Star Gentle Uterus (DJP), Monday, 11 August 2014 13:55 (eight years ago) link

OK fine: I'll listen.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 11 August 2014 14:14 (eight years ago) link

Useless -- especially the radio rock mix not on the album

LimbsKing, Monday, 11 August 2014 17:19 (eight years ago) link

Worst album art in the DM discography? I've never heard this album but I love the Underworld Soft Mix of Barrel of a Gun.

brotherlovesdub, Monday, 11 August 2014 18:46 (eight years ago) link

I know why they couldn't tour for it. I understand why doing a greatest hits tour a year later was a good move (and it was). I've heard most of the singles live one way or another as a result then and in later years on tour.

BUT

No proper tour for this meant no deep dive into the album as a whole which meant I never got to see them do "Insight" live as some sort of amazing set-closer or just anywhere in a show.

So I'm still bitter. Unreasonably.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 11 August 2014 19:16 (eight years ago) link

ahh the on-u sound album ..

have to listen to this again.

mark e, Monday, 11 August 2014 19:25 (eight years ago) link

This is the last Depeche Mode album I really liked. Home gets my vote. Beautiful vocal and a really great string arrangement near the end.

Kitchen Person, Tuesday, 12 August 2014 01:00 (eight years ago) link

I love "Home" but it's the one that makes it most obvious that Depeche Mode hired Simenon off the back of Bjork's "Play Dead".

Tim F, Tuesday, 12 August 2014 01:06 (eight years ago) link

It's better than Songs of Faith and Devotion.

LimbsKing, Tuesday, 12 August 2014 01:15 (eight years ago) link

I have to admit, Ultra took some time to grow on me, because after four albums which feature tracks that could be termed "stadium anthems", Ultra was noticeably more of a headphone/bedroom record. There's certainly no 'Stripped', 'Never Let Me Down Again', 'Enjoy The Silence' or 'I Feel You' on this record, and the closest the album comes in terms of vibe to the previous record, Songs of Faith and Devotion, is the lead single, 'Barrel Of A Gun', although maybe 'Useless' runs it close.

'Barrel Of A Gun' was a bit of a red herring, I thought. When the band came back with that single, I was all prepared for another album that had a similar vibe to Songs of Faith and Devotion but with a heavier emphasis on electronics and cleaner production (I know that Songs of Faith and Devotion is derided by some as being Depeche's "rock" album, but it isn't really a rock record). Imagine my surprise when listening to the album for the first time, when 'Barrel Of A Gun' gave way to the incredibly sedate, floating, defiantly unanthemic and dare I say it, chorus-less 'The Love Thieves', the track here that probably took the longest time to grow on me. Damn, I love the way that it sounds (indeed, the production on the whole record is top notch), but I didn't really click with the song that's at its core for a long while.

Nowadays, I find myself regularly listening Ultra more than I can ever recall doing so in the past. Taken on its own terms, I find its a very gorgeous sounding, very well-produced headphones record. While I've certainly found myself missing Alan's input on other records they've made without him, I can definitely say for certain that I don't miss him so much on this one. In fact, in hindsight, the pairing of Depeche Mode with Tim Simenon was an inspired decision and an excellent fit and I'm really surprised they didn't make another album with him, although in some way its understandable that after the making of Ultra, Simenon may have been less keen on working on another Depeche Mode full-length.

Black Celebration, Music For The Masses, Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion will always be the absolute classic run of Depeche Mode albums for me, the absolute pinnacle of the band's powers. However, Ultra is definitely close behind, as is Playing The Angel, Some Great Reward and dare I say it, Speak & Spell (which is an excellent record when taken on its own terms, although I tend to see it as the sole album from a very different band that also happened to be called Depeche Mode and feature Gore, Gahan and Fletch).

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Tuesday, 12 August 2014 12:33 (eight years ago) link

Useless -- especially the radio rock mix not on the album

― LimbsKing, Monday, August 11, 2014 5:19 PM (2 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

The Kruder & Dorfmeister session is my favourite mix of 'Useless' ever!

Home gets my vote. Beautiful vocal and a really great string arrangement near the end.

― Kitchen Person, Tuesday, August 12, 2014 1:00 AM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I voted for 'Freestate', because I think it's a seriously underrated gem with a great chorus, but 'Home' could have equally easily had my vote, as well as several other tracks here. Totally agree about the vocals and string arrangement!

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Wednesday, 13 August 2014 22:27 (eight years ago) link

"It's No Good" for the video alone

van smack, Friday, 15 August 2014 15:39 (eight years ago) link

Meh, I don't really rate the video for 'It's No Good' all that highly to be honest. As great as Corbijn's work with Depeche Mode generally is, it's probably one of the only videos he did for them that doesn't suit the track at all.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Friday, 15 August 2014 22:29 (eight years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Saturday, 16 August 2014 00:01 (eight years ago) link

I love how each DM album post-Violator, maybe, arrives usually as a slight shock, delivered via solid singles but stuffed with some more surprising downbeat or atmospheric detours. Then inevitably, months and years go by, and each album, from this one to Exciter to Playing the Angel to Sounds of the Universe et al. suddenly sounds so amazingly of a part with the band's past that it's hard to believe I ever doubted their place in the ouevre.

Albums still too long, though.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 16 August 2014 00:01 (eight years ago) link

Am I the only one who finds "Home" reminds them weirdly of "Wonderwall"

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 16 August 2014 00:02 (eight years ago) link

Over the years they have managed to include nearly all these songs in their live sets, but of course it's not the same as a proper tour for the album. How about a "Trilogy"-style concert with "Black Celebration", "Ultra", and "Delta Machine"?

NoTimeBeforeTime, Saturday, 16 August 2014 16:03 (eight years ago) link

Yeah, and even then sometimes they've been played as Martin "solo" versions rather than full band versions. They haven't touched 'Useless' since the Singles 86-98 tour, 'The Bottom Line' was last played on the Exciter tour and they've never played 'The Love Thieves' live. Having said that, Ultra has actually fared better for live airings than Exciter has over the years: only 'When The Body Speaks', 'Freelove' and 'Goodnight Lovers' have been played since the Exciter tour, nothing else.

Also, I've just found out that the Pasadena Rowl Bowl concert (101) was (to date) the last time they have played 'People Are People', 'Blasphemous Rumours', 'The Things You Said', 'Sacred', 'Nothing' and 'Pleasure Little Treasure' live.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Saturday, 16 August 2014 18:31 (eight years ago) link

Am I the only one who finds "Home" reminds them weirdly of "Wonderwall"

― Josh in Chicago, Saturday, August 16, 2014 12:02 AM (18 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

No, the way the strings cycle through the root notes of the four chords in the outro is very 'Wonderwall'-like.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Saturday, 16 August 2014 18:32 (eight years ago) link

A weird album this - should have been a minor transitional release "just glad to still be here" kinda thing and I kind greeted it as such at the time - and yet now I see it as one of their very best. Top 3 really

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Saturday, 16 August 2014 19:10 (eight years ago) link

I guess the quality of the music itself got buried a lot over the amount of press they got over Alan leaving and Dave's attempted suicide/overdose. If you watch/read any interview with Depeche Mode around this time, Dave spends a lot of time getting his demons off his chest, and because they (understandably, and wisely) didn't tour it, the album got buried a little further. For a while, it seemed as Ultra was going to be forever perceived as the record that the band made in an attempt to keep themselves together and nothing more. But, I think with the passing of time, it's much easier to see Ultra for what it is... and what it is very, very good indeed in my opinion.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Saturday, 16 August 2014 19:57 (eight years ago) link

This was my first Depeche Mode album so naturally I think it's better than many of you who had heard them in better incarnations.

The first half of the album is brilliant imho, but most of them should have been edited down by a couple of minutes (specially 'It's no good').

Voting Useless because at the time I felt like it sounded like a Mezzanine outtake.

Moka, Saturday, 16 August 2014 21:56 (eight years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:01 (seven years ago) link

Understandable choice.

We haven't talked much about the fact that this is Dave's first album after the voice lessons.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:30 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, 'It's No Good' wouldn't have sounded out of place on Violator, really, so it's no surprise to me that the track here with the most votes is the one track on here that would comfortably slot into one of their most (if not the most) commercially successful/acclaimed albums.

I still think 'Freestate' is incredibly underrated, though... the chorus on it is one of the catchiest vocal melodies on the album. Maybe with a different treatment it could have turned into something more anthemic, but I love the way the treatment it has... it sounds vast and open, like the musical equivalent of a very open and endless space.

I love Dave's vocals on this album. While 'Barrel Of A Gun' doesn't seem to give much indication that Dave had had some vocal training during the making of the album, then tracks like 'The Love Thieves' certainly do... even though that song took its time to grow on me, I still admired Dave's vocal on it.

'Sister Of Night' too, I think is a great vocal, even though it's legendarily the track on here that was recorded while Dave was still on drugs, and was heavily compiled from multiple takes (sometimes down to the syllables, apparently) because his voice was so out of shape. The end result masks the problems rather well, I think.

As strange as this sounds, I actually wouldn't mind hearing the vocal takes that Dave laid down in the initial sessions, just to hear for myself how bad they apparently were. I guess that the band themselves would be less thrilled if bootlegs of that stuff came out, though. I wonder too, if Martin laid down lead vocal tracks for all of these songs at some point just in case the shit hit the fan. Surely he must have laid down guide vocals or something, because the process of making the album was so long and it could well have been Martin's first "proper" solo album if Dave hadn't managed to achieve the impressive feat of pulling himself out of the rut he'd got himself into.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Sunday, 17 August 2014 01:12 (seven years ago) link

Is there a good article about the problems Dave was having and the recording process for this album? I had completely given up on them with SOFAD so by this album, they didn't get any of my attention. I'd like to read about the process while digging into the songs.

brotherlovesdub, Sunday, 17 August 2014 03:36 (seven years ago) link

The small documentary that came with the Ultra remaster is worth a watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlGK0Km_ouY

(as are all the documentaries that came with the remastered albums)

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Sunday, 17 August 2014 03:57 (seven years ago) link

Also, press archives (news items/interviews) from the period here and HERE.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Sunday, 17 August 2014 04:00 (seven years ago) link

Thank you! Watched all the older docs but stopped at Violator.

brotherlovesdub, Sunday, 17 August 2014 04:19 (seven years ago) link

I get the impression a lot of singers get voice lessons relatively in their career because as kids they can just blast through a set but as they get older it starts to take its toll. Elvis Costello, Madonna, Roger Daltrey, I suspect Springsteen at some point ... basically anyone over the age of 40 who has to sustain an entire set. It definitely changes the way they approach a tune, but I think in many cases they lack a sound alternative.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 17 August 2014 12:08 (seven years ago) link

I guess the quality of the music itself got buried a lot over the amount of press they got over Alan leaving and Dave's attempted suicide/overdose.

There's that, but I also remember stories about how the breakthrough of "electronica" was a kind of vindication for DM (i.e. "it's finally cool to like Depeche Mode!") which of course was stupid because of how massive "Violator" and SOFAD were. I think there were too many silly angles where people tried to figure out how DM's new album fit into the new landscape, and forgot to talk about the actual music.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Sunday, 17 August 2014 12:14 (seven years ago) link

Does Wilder ever get credited on the albums with songwriting or production? He obviously brought so much to them.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 17 August 2014 12:18 (seven years ago) link

Well, he gets a credit on the songs that he wrote, such as 'Two Minute Warning', 'If You Want' etc. but he hasn't had one of his songs on an album since Some Great Reward. In fact, it still surprises me that Dave and Alan didn't form a songwriting partnership while he was in the band; Dave has always worked with co-writers on his own material, and Alan is on record as saying that lyrics were never his strong point, and always collaborated with guest vocalists on the Recoil stuff. But no, during this time Alan didn't receive songwriting credits for anything he added to Martin's songs, and production work was usually credited to the producers and the band (I.e. 'Produced by Depeche Mode and Flood'), even though it's clear that Alan was the most involved in that area.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Sunday, 17 August 2014 14:15 (seven years ago) link

Man, there are some shows I've seen that I've totally forgotten, but that's usually. However, I really wish I remember more than the vaguest details of the Singles Tour, which I know I saw and liked but can't recall at all.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 17 August 2014 14:50 (seven years ago) link

it was a very end-of-the-pier cabaret vibe compared to the previous tours. i was kinda horrified tbh; Dave had some kind of Grandad suit on at Wembley and they suddenly looked ancient. looking back it was just a cheap and cheerful show i guess.

piscesx, Sunday, 17 August 2014 15:14 (seven years ago) link

I didn't attend the Singles Tour, but I remember seeing pictures of the stage set and not being very impressed. Also, while the Devotional tour hinted at it with live drumming from Alan Wilder on a couple of tracks, and Martin Gore playing more guitar, this really was the first tour where they went the whole hog on presenting themselves as a "rock" band live... and they've pretty much stayed in that mode since. I remember being a bit disappointed at how little Martin was playing the keyboards during the Exciter tour.

...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe and SAW! (Turrican), Sunday, 17 August 2014 17:49 (seven years ago) link

Even if it was still a retrenching it was also a pretty handy way to say "Hey we HAVE been around and there's an actual legacy here." Comparative point: at this stage in their careers they were where the Rolling Stones were at with Tattoo You, chronologically speaking.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 17 August 2014 18:25 (seven years ago) link

This is the album where i mostly fell off the DM bus, partly due to Martin digging extra deep into the somewhat gospelly, heavily sentimental lyrical trench he'd opened up on SoFaD. "Love will be the death of my lonely soul brothers, but their spirit shall live on in the hearts of all lovers" - I just don't have a clue what to do with that. otoh he has some great vocal performances - Home, which is stellar and would've been my vote if I'd seen this in time; and his backing vocals on Insight, especially the bit at 2:26 where he comes in just on the right channel and murmurs "lead me on" right in your ear. An all-time classic headphone moment.

ledge, Monday, 18 August 2014 10:43 (seven years ago) link

yeah i fell pretty much off the bus at this point too. or off the 'crazy fan' bus at least. at the listening party in Manchester to be exact. i've probably only really liked 3 or 4 songs they've made since.

piscesx, Monday, 18 August 2014 11:06 (seven years ago) link

Home is lovely.

3kDk (dog latin), Monday, 18 August 2014 11:10 (seven years ago) link

seven months pass...

Yeah, it's fair to say that I now see this as part of the classic run of Depeche Mode albums!

You’re being too simplistic and you’re insulting my poor heart (Turrican), Thursday, 26 March 2015 23:02 (seven years ago) link

surprised Home didn't get more love here. a fan fave i suppose but people really do love it. the firework noise (a sound effect?) on The Love Thieves is the sort of subtle thing they don't do much anymore IMO.

piscesx, Friday, 27 March 2015 08:13 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, I listened to this back-to-back with Playing The Angel the other day and I couldn't help but notice that Ultra has a layered depth to its mix that Playing The Angel just doesn't. Listening to Ultra on headphones has always been an absolute pleasure.

There's some tasty drum sounds on this record too, I think.

Possibly the logical byproduct of hiring a producer known for beats vs. a producer known for ... whatever Ben Hiller is known for. Doing a good job?

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 27 March 2015 21:06 (seven years ago) link

Prior to working on Playing The Angel, he worked on Blur's Think Tank, Doves' Some Cities and Elbow's Cast Of Thousands and Asleep In The Back, so "indie" music predominantly. I remember it being such a surprise to find out he was working with Depeche Mode pretty much for this reason.

Honestly, I think it was a matter of finding someone they could work with but who would not run all over them, especially after working with two auteur producers in succession.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 27 March 2015 21:36 (seven years ago) link

I dunno, I think Tim Simenon (and his team) did a great deal to ensure that Ultra got made, same with Flood & Alan on Songs of Faith and Devotion. By his own admission (he says so on the Songs of Faith and Devotion documentary) Dave says he doesn't feel that he contributed much to the record, bar what he considers his best ever vocal performance on 'Condemnation'. For the making of Ultra, it seems he was barely present mentally until the very end for obvious reasons. It's unknown what Fletch contributed to either record, although I suspect very little. So bar Martin, it really was the production team (and Alan, when he was in the band) getting things done.

I'd also say that both Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones had a large influence on the records they worked on with Depeche Mode in the '80s.

thanks for making this poll turrican, this is one of my favorite records now

My favourite DM after Black Celebration.

Tim F, Saturday, 28 March 2015 03:18 (seven years ago) link

eleven months pass...

God, I absolutely adore the snare sound on 'The Love Thieves' ... As the years go by this is weirdly inching closer to being my favourite Depeche Mode album!

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Thursday, 17 March 2016 20:22 (six years ago) link

this is often my fave as well, but thats mainly due to it being the album with the most tim simenon/on-u involvement.

and yes, i am that shallow.

mark e, Thursday, 17 March 2016 20:27 (six years ago) link

I think some of the production team on this album worked on Secrets by The Human League, too? Although not Simenon, of course.

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Thursday, 17 March 2016 20:31 (six years ago) link

i have the original cd edition of this and listening to 'the love thieves' now i am succumbing to its charms.
the whole sound structure is just gorgeous.
so, question - given i have the original, do i need to get the remastered edition ?

mark e, Thursday, 17 March 2016 20:34 (six years ago) link

I haven't done a side-by-side comparison or anything, but I suspect not. The original CD still sounds fine to me!

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Thursday, 17 March 2016 21:00 (six years ago) link

yeah, i suspect so.
it sounds bloody brilliant.
was just wondering if there was a massive sonic uplift ...

mark e, Thursday, 17 March 2016 21:09 (six years ago) link

I still can't believe how lovely the vocal on 'Sister of Night', given what was going on at the time. The comp'ing sessions for that sound as if they were a real headache.

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Saturday, 19 March 2016 17:01 (six years ago) link

yeah Love Thieves (easily my number 1 in this poll) is just genius. in the Ultra doc Dan Miller says they put the whole album 'through a valve amp' which explains its fatter sound. no idea what that means.

piscesx, Saturday, 19 March 2016 19:03 (six years ago) link

I don't think Ultra is their best collection of songs but the production is my favorite out of all their albums, and my favorite to listen to with headphones. It used to be the album I'd compare my own productions to for years (and feel frustrated that I couldn't come close to matching it). It's pretty close to perfect

Vinnie, Sunday, 20 March 2016 04:00 (six years ago) link

Yeah why didn't DM want to work with Tim Simenon after this (or technically after "Only When I Lose Myself")? I can understand not wanting to repeat themselves and to work with different producers, but Ben Hillier has produced their last three albums.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Sunday, 20 March 2016 14:27 (six years ago) link

If I had to guess, I think Josh got it right, upthread. Hillier doesn't seem to have as big a footprint on the sound as Simenon or Bell; maybe he's a more a facilitator and that's what the band wants now.

Vinnie, Sunday, 20 March 2016 16:09 (six years ago) link

I think there's some great songs on the Hillier produced albums, but sonically they're just not as exciting to me.

Having said that, Ultra took a long time to make by Depeche standards for various well-known reasons. I can't help but feel that because it took so long for Dave to get his act together, that it may have afforded the production team a little bit more time to work on the backing tracks.

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Monday, 21 March 2016 18:23 (six years ago) link

two years pass...

this is the best album

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 01:53 (three years ago) link

can we talk in-depth about the ultimate martin gore song also known as "the bottom line"

Tim F, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 04:26 (three years ago) link

Nothing will ever top Violator as it's the first album I ever fell in love with but Ultra is one of their very best. Kruder & Dorfmeister's remix of 'Useless' also deserves more love.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 10:08 (three years ago) link

Weird, I was only listening to this yesterday and thinking how at this point it may just have my favourite production of all the Depeche Mode albums, although Alan Wilder fanatics may disagree. It's not their best collection of songs, but it is still one of their best albums.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 10:32 (three years ago) link

yeah, agreed - there's a real vibe on this one

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 10:42 (three years ago) link

Having Tim Simenon and his team as the producers really was an inspired choice. Given the whole thing was a project of reconstruction — recovering from Gahan’s near death, Gore kicking alcohol, Fletch’s own breakdown after his sister’s death, and above all Alan’s departure — it would have been easy to simply turn it over to someone and shrug. But Simenon managed a real trick in continuing the murky haze of SOFAD to a degree in continuity — something accentuated by the post trip-hop undertones that had emerged since — while suggesting more light and focus had emerged at just the right moments. Everyone found their way to the middle just enough to create a new dynamic, and while a big final step (Gahan’s emergence as a songwriter) had to wait for Playing, this created a new solid foundation that a year’s further rest and the (really) great Singles Tour solidified.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 12:56 (three years ago) link

I wish they'd tried working on another album with Simenon and that Gore had given himself time to overcome his writers block - the 'Only When I Lose Myself' single turned out great (particularly the better-than-the-A-side 'Surrender') but Exciter was really forced and still to me is one of the worst albums they've ever made.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 13:06 (three years ago) link

I like how chill (boring) Exciter is.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 13:23 (three years ago) link

Exciter is probably the DM album i'm least familiar with (except Dream On, one of my fave singles of theirs) but I appreciated them taking risks and trying unlikely new sounds.

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 13:51 (three years ago) link

^ Yep

I was pretty disappointed by Exciter, especially after the stronger songs of Playing the Angel, but now I appreciate that they were pushing for a new sound on Exciter. That's the last album where they did so - Playing the Angel was more of a retread to the early days and they've stuck with that palette

Vinnie, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 14:14 (three years ago) link

I appreciated them taking risks, too. Unfortunately, when a band takes a risk you can't always expect a great outcome and Exciter wasn't a great outcome. I've heard it being described as "intimate", but sonically the LP sounds like tarted-up, studio quality demos in comparison to everything before or since. Song-wise it's a bit of a mixed bag: on the whole it's Gore's worst collection of lyrics since Construction Time Again. Musically, I like 'Shine', 'Goodnight Lovers' and 'Freelove', but on the other hand there's crap like 'Comatose', 'The Dead of Night' and 'I Feel Loved', which was probably their worst single since 'It's Called a Heart' ...

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 14:44 (three years ago) link

"When the Body Speaks" is an amazingly delicate construction. My sleeper from that album.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 16:20 (three years ago) link

Ultra has such a thick sound. Would have loved to hear Simenon tackle the SOFD songs, an album I never connected with.

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 21:04 (three years ago) link

I love Songs of Faith and Devotion, not just because of the quality of the songs, but they took a risk on that album and it actually worked! They had a lot to lose at that point, and came out with a record which pretty much was a complete departure from everything before it, yet was still very much a Depeche Mode record. They could have alienated a huge part of their audience with that record - somehow, it made them even bigger.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 21:11 (three years ago) link

re: Exciter, "Dream On" is super underrated
re: Construction Time Again, that is 2nd or 3rd best album, depending on how I'm feeling about Music for the Masses on a given day
re: Ultra, "Home" and "Useless" are two of their best songs

GDPR vs GAPDY (DJP), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 21:13 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

Watch this space.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 31 July 2022 03:45 (two weeks ago) link

Well, since it's live...

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/depeche-mode-ultra/

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 31 July 2022 04:14 (two weeks ago) link

Very well done.

The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 31 July 2022 05:28 (two weeks ago) link

Great piece Ned. I love songs from Exciter and Playing the Angel and even past that, but this is the last of their albums where I don't skip anything

Vinnie, Sunday, 31 July 2022 05:58 (two weeks ago) link

Nice! Good to see wider public recognize that post imperial phase DM still rules. Probably the band that held up best post 80’s amongst their ilk

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Sunday, 31 July 2022 07:37 (two weeks ago) link

I can see why, given the history and the protracted recording process, this is simultaneously their "band in crisis falling apart" record and their "all grown-up now" record; for most groups, they are two separate releases.

Everyone found their way to the middle just enough to create a new dynamic

is a good way of putting it.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 31 July 2022 14:45 (two weeks ago) link

Did a little bonus Twitter thread talking about some sources and things to note:

Okay as promised elsewhere a little bit ago, an addendum to the _Ultra_ review for Pitchfork Sunday linking various things noted or mentioned in it. Had to do a lot of source review per fact-checking requirements -- no bad thing! -- and thought I would share some it.

— Ned Raggett (@NedRaggett) July 31, 2022

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 31 July 2022 17:59 (two weeks ago) link

i agree re the leblanc/wimbish comment.
a proper album of On-U vs DG could be very interesting.
after all, there is a shared history, and DG is now open to working with crews outside of the DM bubble (hello Soulsavers).

mark e, Sunday, 31 July 2022 18:14 (two weeks ago) link


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