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

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HOOOO

PEEEEEMPF

HOOOOO

PEEEEEEEEEEPMF

HOOOOOOO

PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEMPF

HOOOO, Thursday, 13 October 2005 20:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Sound quality on 101 DVD = Dud.
-- Chris Ott (edito...), January 14th, 2005

really? how so? it sounds fine to me.

piscesboy, Thursday, 13 October 2005 20:26 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Everybody please rank DM's albums, so I know what order to buy them (or when to stop buying them). I just got Violator, and it's the greatest thing I've every heard. What next...?

Super Cub (Debito), Monday, 24 October 2005 01:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'll leave out the new album, for even though I think it's one of their top two or three albums upon initial listens, it hasn't had time to sink in yet and be ranked along with the others. I'll also leave out the two live albums, just because.

Violator
Music For the Masses
Ultra
Black Celebration
Speak and Spell
Songs of Faith and Devotion
Some Great Reward
Construction Time Again
Exciter
A Broken Frame

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 24 October 2005 01:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

You rate Black Celebration and Speak and Spell higher than Some Great Reward. Is that the consensus?

Super Cub (Debito), Monday, 24 October 2005 01:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I can't speak for others here, but most fans wouldn't rate Speak and Spell as high as I did. Many ILM'ers rate Construction Time Again very highly, but it's never been one of my favourites.

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 24 October 2005 01:36 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I bought this album recently. For the first six tracks it is undoubtedly the Greatest Depeche Mode Album Ever but like Violator it does lose sa fair amount of steam towards the end (especially "Pimpf"--sorry, just can't get down with their weird medeival-goth instrumentals). Maybe I need more listens. The first six tracks (four of which I already knew going into it) do ensure this one total classic status regardless, though.

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Monday, 24 October 2005 02:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Some Great Reward is their best album!

dar1a g (daria g), Monday, 24 October 2005 02:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

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

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

Abuse him.

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

Dave Matthews Band fans?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Party time is here again!

https://c1.staticflickr.com/2/1560/24707332820_3da1b89669_n.jpg

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Tuesday, 16 May 2017 19:49 (six months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

So, happily borrowing some wording from my first post up there (but it's mostly all new):

http://thequietus.com/articles/23166-depeche-mode-music-for-the-masses-review-anniversary

Ned Raggett, Monday, 11 September 2017 13:12 (two months ago) Permalink

Awesome piece, Ned.

I too was in Los Angeles at this time, too young to attend anything but old enouogh to have already be absolutely in love with music, and missing the Rose Bowl show was devestating to me at the time. Instead I sat on the backyard patio of my parent's house and listened to the KROQ broadcast of the event. I was bummed but I still felt part of something that was happening.

I don't know about other cities in the world in 1988 but it's hard to understate just how massive Depeche Mode were in Los Angeles at that time. It was Beatlemania when they'd show up somewhere. Even though I'd already become educated in and deeply affected by the entire New Order/Factory/Saville mythos by the time and was mostly consumed by that stuff, Depeche Mode still felt very much a part of everything that was important to me as I was becoming obsessed with music and this album is the sound of that time. In contrast, it took a long time for me to get into 'Violator' because of how minimal, angular, and cold most of it sounded to me in comparison.

yesca, Monday, 11 September 2017 13:36 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah I definitely take the point on Violator's 'cooler' feel -- which may seem strange given "Personal Jesus" and its massive stomp, but I think that also serves the album pretty well in comparison. When I first heard it on the day of release, I remember thinking from the get-go how sharp it sounded at points.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 11 September 2017 16:11 (two months ago) Permalink

I don't find Violator an angular or cold record at all. There was a bit of a trend of synthpop acts returning to analogue synths in the early '90s. Behaviour and Chorus being a couple of other examples of this.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Monday, 11 September 2017 16:19 (two months ago) Permalink

Well, you're wrong. :-D (I am busy and can't get into this further right now.)

Ned Raggett, Monday, 11 September 2017 16:22 (two months ago) Permalink

Heh! I agree that the record feels minimal by comparison... Black Celebration and Music for the Masses are quite layered records and there's quite a fair bit going on under the surface, whereas Violator is simpler - not that this is a bad thing.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Monday, 11 September 2017 17:36 (two months ago) Permalink

whereas Violator is simpler - not that this is a bad thing.

Yeah I don't want to characterize the sound as a bad thing either. I love when artists evolve their sound into something equally engaging. I'm just saying that at the time I was used to previous two albums and 'Violator' felt like a lot of that symphonic approach was stripped away to reveal something Kraftwerkian.

This said, I still prefer the many layered and huge sounding approach of Masses over everything else.

yesca, Tuesday, 12 September 2017 14:46 (two months ago) Permalink

I don't agree with the characterization of Violator as "stripped down". It only really describes "Waiting for the Night" and mmmmmmmaybe "Blue Dress". The other 8 songs build and layer in much the same way the songs on Music for the Masses do.

this iphone speaks many languages (DJP), Tuesday, 12 September 2017 15:02 (two months ago) Permalink

The big difference for me is that Violator is a lot crisper, whereas the previous two albums (and some before) are very reverb-y. Violator is still quite layered though

Vinnie, Tuesday, 12 September 2017 15:33 (two months ago) Permalink

Violator is still quite layered in places but I think yesca is kinda OTM and that it is much less symphonic and a simpler record than the two albums before it.

Take something like 'Fly on the Windscreen - Final' for example, the mix on that is so dense and there's a lot going on that's buried in there, whereas something like 'World In My Eyes' gets by with a bass synth, percussion and a string synth that either provides the chords but just as often just provides these sustained single notes. Of course, there's things that pop up here and there as the track moves along - the backwards sound going into the chorus or the dink-dink dink-dink's in the chorus itself but bass synth, string synth and drum programming is the core of that track.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Tuesday, 12 September 2017 16:09 (two months ago) Permalink


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