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Music Debate #72: Depeche Mode


Reed Rothchild
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  1. 1. Rating explanations down below

    • 10/10 - One of your very favorite artists of all time.
    • 9/10 - Killer fucking band. Or artist.
    • 8/10 - Great sound, great songs, great albums.
    • 7/10 - Very good, but not quite great.
    • 6/10 - Pretty good. More than a few songs you like. You'd entertain the thought of seeing them live if they were in the area. Or still alive.
    • 5/10 - They're okay, but maybe not something you'll go out of your way to listen to.
    • 4/10 - Meh. There may be a song or two, or an album that you dig, but you'd rather listen to other stuff.
    • 3/10 - Not very good. You will more likely than not turn the station if they come on the radio.
    • 2/10 - Not your cup of tea at all. Some people might like this, but you are not one of them.
    • 1/10 - Horrible in every way.
      0
    • 0/10 - In the running for worst artist/musician of all time. You would rather take a cheese grater to your face than listen to this.


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6/10 for me. When I met my wife (2004) she was super into them at the time. I had never really paid them much mind before that, but ended up listening to them a ton during our courting days, along with other 80's synth-pop bands. Myself, I was more into New Order. Anyway, the synth-pop phase kind of ended for both of us after a while. But there's definitely still some nostalgia there as certain Depeche Mode albums definitely make me think of that era when we first met.

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Music is one thing that I love more than video games and DM is one of my all-time favorite bands.  Martin Gore and Vince Clarke (who left early to start Yazoo and Erasure) are two of my musical heroes.  I've been a huge fan ("devotee") for many years and I've obsessively collected just about everything DM I can find.  A quick look at my music library shows over 13,000 tracks (about 350GB) of Depeche Mode + related, and I'm sure that pales in comparison to some even bigger fans that I've met.  That includes CD and vinyl rips, remixes (official and fan/bootleg), live, videos, cover versions, solo and side projects, etc.

Depeche Mode were recently admitted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and their influence on all modern music can't be understated.  Many people consider Kraftwerk influential in regards to electronic music, and they certainly were, but I would argue that DM has been even more so.  After all, DM have been making music for 40 years (vs. Kraftwerk's ~10) and have influenced not just electronica, but a wide range of artists from all genres (ie Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Johnny Cash, The Knux, Muse).  I've also read, but can't precisely confirm, that Enjoy The Silence is the most remixed song ever.  I have over 640 versions of EtS alone.

Even though I think that DM's music sadly took a dive after Alan Wilder left after Songs of Faith and Devotion, I still celebrate their entire catalogue 😉  For me, there's nothing better than listening to an early DM album like Speak & Spell in DTS 5.1.  They instilled an appreciation of analog synths that still has me in a tight grip, and I also listen to Erasure, OMD, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, and all the other usual synthpop suspects - not to mention early synth artists like Wendy Carlos, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Jean-Michel Jarre, Perrey & Kingsley, etc.  I love all of it!  If anyone reading feels like trading some audio files (do people still do that?), send me a pm!

"It all seems to stupid it makes me want to give up, but why should I give up when it all seems so stupid?"  - Martin L. Gore, Shame

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Woof! Another wife band.  I'll tolerate em if she puts em on otherwise they're about a 2.  Pretty much bottom of the barrel for 80s new wave.  

Fun fact: In high school we did a hand jive at every fucking assembly to Just Can't Get Enough.  I hated it then but strangely enough, that song kinda grew on me.  I have a weird kind of nostalgia about it.  Still won't listen to it of my own accord though. 

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That cover of Little 15 is excellent.  Thanks for sharing!

I thought I’d mention a great site (no affiliation) called DM Live Wiki that has just about every live fan recording available for download (if one exists).  There’s an excellent soundboard recording from LA during the World Violation Tour, which is a must-hear.  One of their best tours during the height of their fame and we never got a concert video from it.  The site also has lots of great history about the early days of the band, along with demos and early tracks which were only played live from the highest-quality known audio sources.

https://dmlive.wiki/wiki/Main_Page

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Member · Posted

I can't possibly give Depeche Mode any lower than 8/10, but a part of me really wants to.
It's one of those bands that are so perpertually overplayed and oversaturated that it's hard not to get fed up with them. They are just everywhere, and have been for at least three decades.

But their 80s output is genuinely great. Almost every record up until and including Violator is a banger, full of catchy hits that really brought the Mute sound to the forefront of the mainstream.

On the other hand, they haven't been able to make a single thing that I like since then, outside of maybe like 2 or 3 single songs. I don't know what it is, but they just switched gears and stopped being interesting. Even their concerts nowadays is the most boring thing ever.
But at least it's still entirely inoffensive, and as for massively ubiquitous pop bands you could do a whole lot worse.

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@Sumez, that is one of the fairest and most even-handed opinions I've seen a while.  Though I disagree somewhat, it's refreshing to read.

It is quite true that DM's sound has changed, most notably with the single I Feel You and album Songs of Faith and Devotion in 1993 (which was their only US #1 album).  I don't expect to change your opinion at all, but if you'll hear me out, maybe you can give some of their post-Violator stuff a second chance.

It was apparent after Violator that the band wanted to change their image and sound.  That was mostly led by the singer Dave Gahan, who was the frontman and face of the band.  He had started seeing newer US bands like Jane's Addiction, and he wanted to get away from the completely electronic sound.  It was right around that time that he overdosed on a heroin/cocaine cocktail and almost died.  The band was fractured and the technical "talent", Alan Wilder, was soon to leave.  Up through 2000's Exciter album, Martin Gore had written 99% of their songs - you could say he was Depeche Mode - but with 2005's Playing The Angel, Dave was allowed to input some of his songs.  Dave is a great singer but his songs are all ok at best.  You are not alone in the opinion that their music switched gears, and I agree completely.  I personally still like it, but their earlier stuff will always be the best.

I have to laugh at your comment that DM has been overplayed and oversaturated.  I say it's quite the opposite, at least in the US.  They do get radio play, but in the 90's it was and still mostly is rock music that rules the day.  It was all Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, Oasis, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, etc etc etc.  To catch a DM song on the radio is like finding a needle in a haystack, other synth artists even more so.

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Member · Posted
7 minutes ago, glazball said:

I have to laugh at your comment that DM has been overplayed and oversaturated.  I say it's quite the opposite, at least in the US.  They do get radio play, but in the 90's it was and still mostly is rock music that rules the day.  It was all Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, Oasis, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, etc etc etc.  To catch a DM song on the radio is like finding a needle in a haystack, other synth artists even more so.

Can't speak for the US of course, but that sounds almost absurd to me. They are probably the biggest all-time pop artist I can think of that are still active.
I have no idea what Stone Temple Pilots even is. XD

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Editorials Team · Posted
22 hours ago, Sumez said:

Can't speak for the US of course, but that sounds almost absurd to me. They are probably the biggest all-time pop artist I can think of that are still active.
I have no idea what Stone Temple Pilots even is. XD

Classic rock radio in the US will play 100 STP songs for every DM song

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On 7/22/2020 at 1:34 PM, Sumez said:

Can't speak for the US of course, but that sounds almost absurd to me. They are probably the biggest all-time pop artist I can think of that are still active.
I have no idea what Stone Temple Pilots even is. XD

Mind. Blown.  You have almost certainly heard some STP songs: Plush, Creep, Vasoline, Interstate Love Song, etc.  The frontman Scott Weiland was himself a Depeche Mode fan and did a great cover of But Not Tonight.

And I'm scratching my head about DM being the biggest active long-time pop artists.  Madonna?  U2?  Janet Jackson?  I hate to seem like I'm giving you grief though!  It's all in good fun.  Perhaps you are in Europe?  I'd love to know what country you're in where you can hear DM all the time on the radio!  Of course DM were much bigger overseas and still have their most rabid fans there, esp. Germany.

On 7/23/2020 at 11:45 AM, Reed Rothchild said:

Classic rock radio in the US will play 100 STP songs for every DM song

It's funny you say that.  I don't listen to much radio, but there's a decent modern rock/alternative station in Austin.  I've made a silly game out of waiting for either a Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins song within the next 5 songs I hear after turning on the radio (if one isn't already playing).  I haven't failed yet.  They and other similar bands still get lots of airtime here but DM not so much (and it's always Enjoy the Silence).

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Member · Posted
2 hours ago, glazball said:

Madonna?  U2?  Janet Jackson?

Of course there's a slew of artists like that. Madonna and U2 are obviously huge, but I think Depeche Mode has them in the massively gigantic devoted and relentless fanbase. Janet Jackson made me laugh, though XD

I skimmed through the Stone Temple Pilots songs that you mentioned. I think I've heard Plush before and probably thought it was Nickelback or something. The others don't sound familiar.

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I take a look here whenever I want to semi-objectively measure the popularity of an artist, DM comes up at 195 and while there are a lot of long time pop artists before them they are without question the most popular synth-pop band:
https://www.songkick.com/leaderboards/popular_artists

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Member · Posted
2 hours ago, Sumez said:

Of course there's a slew of artists like that. Madonna and U2 are obviously huge, but I think Depeche Mode has them in the massively gigantic devoted and relentless fanbase. Janet Jackson made me laugh, though XD

I skimmed through the Stone Temple Pilots songs that you mentioned. I think I've heard Plush before and probably thought it was Nickelback or something. The others don't sound familiar.

Are you American?

If you're not in the US then that would explain the non-familiarity with STP.

 

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Sumez mentioned pop artists, which is short for popular (sorry, I thought/assumed Janet Jackson was still popular).  For synthpop specifically, DM are undoubtedly the most popular band but still way down the line overall.  I'm not saying they are still relevant, not really, but indeed there are a lot of fans that still love their stuff passionately.  I'm thrilled to know that they are still as popular as they are.  However, on that list that Abelardo linked, you see them below other electronic artists (deadmau5) and one-hit wonder Gotye, so I don't really know what that is any real measure of.

Reed, I realized that I have all those metal DM covers in my library, I just hadn't listened to them in years.  There are 5 volumes of A Metal Tribute To Depeche Mode, and I uploaded them if anyone is interested in them.  Unfortunately, they are 192k mp3, downloaded years ago en masse from a DM remix fan site which is no longer up.  In the same folder are 2 other rock/metal cover albums, Mode of Obscurity and For The Masses (CD rip).  Duplicates have been removed.  Happy to share more too!

https://mega.nz/folder/OcxRiIBI#1L9lyAhKDmrr4ZzEfIdJyA

Here are some other great DM covers:

 

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