Depeche Mode, enigmatic and legendary
Talking about one of my favorite iconic bands like Depeche Mode gives me immense pleasure not just because this is the first time I am writing about the band who is ever present in my musical world in a big way, but also because they fully deserve all the tributes and reviews ever written about them.
Depeche Mode, a career spanning 40 years
Yes, 40 years is a long career span for any band, and Depeche Mode are industry stalwarts. There is so much music and so many stuff to even know of a band, that it becomes difficult to cover all in its entirety in one blog post, but still I will try to give my perspective of the connection I had with the band, as a fan.
An Introduction to the band, just in case……..
The band was formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex, England primarily with Dave Gahan, in lead vocals, Martin Gore, in keyboard and vocals, Andy Fletcher, in drums, keyboard and vocals, along with Vince Clarke, in keyboard and vocals. Clarke left the band in 1981 and paved the way for Alan Wilder to join the boys, in drums, keyboard and bass guitar.
The earlier music of the band started in the psychedelic genre much similar to the way other contemporary bands were experimenting from much earlier including the legendary Pink Floyd.
Slowly as years passed by the music from the band took a much more mainstream pop rock sound with special emphasis on the electronic ambient part which became the highlighting factor in their music and made them icons in their own name for many musicians to follow in their footsteps later.
My take on their music has been of a view that their music is something extra ordinary, with Dave Gahan’s rich baritone making him world famous, with Al Gore and the rest playing their part in vocals and instrumentations, creating songs ever memorable, electronically elegant, musically diverse and thoroughly engaging. Albums after albums they have tried their best to satisfy their fans as well as their own creativity……making hit records year after year.
I have always loved this unique combination of the French name Depeche Mode, taken from a French fashion magazine, along with Englishman Dave Gahan’s amazing voice, and Martin Gore and Fletcher’s ever presence in brilliance……..how can it go wrong..? 🙂
Yet, the band had their dark phases as many mainstream bands and artists face in their career. Fatal drug abuses of Gahan, Martin Gore’s alcohol problems and Fletcher passing through much depressed phases, with Alan Wilder quitting the band in 1995………..but these were phases which ultimately passed, and the band’s ever brilliance in their song writing and music making abilities highlighted in their next albums…….
The band has millions and billions of fans worldwide, sold records in millions, gave multiple hit albums which reigned charts for many years in multiple countries, and sealed their place in the top 50 artists and bands which influenced the world music in their ever present way.
Depeche Mode, a period range look at their music
The formation of the band is already known which was finalized in 1980 and their debut album Speak and Spell came out. This was the time when Vince Clarke began showing his discomfort for the stardom the band was slowly getting pulled into as he thought this was hurting their creative pursuits, and decided to leave to continue his music ambitions elsewhere. In this period the band came up with albums Construction Time, Some Great Reward and Black Celebration. The last album is my favorite, providing enough to sit back and take note of the band with awe.
This was the glorious time of their career as they started to come up with some really amazing music. Versatile, stadium filling anthems, Gahan’s signature voice and the elegance of the songs and albums catapulted the band to the next level. They came up with some brilliant albums like Violator, Songs of Faith and Devotion, Ultra, Exciter and Playing the Angel. And all these albums are unique and brilliant in their own ways, with Exciter taking a much acoustically oriented electronic pop sound, and the song Dream On from this album is an absolute gem.
The band went on experimenting with their electronic sound and came up with a brilliant Sounds of the Universe album with their newly signed record label EMI music. The album was nominated in the best alternative category in the Grammys. The band went on an extensive touring to promote this album and as a part of their Tour of the Universe the band played throughout the world to record sell outs. Amidst wide range of speculation that the band will not make any further music and will call it a day, much to the joys of the fans they came up with Delta Machine, with such brilliant stuff like Welcome to my World. And next came their newest, Spirit album.
Dave Gahan, the enigmatic voice of Depeche Mode
Music’s purpose is to express and modulate emotions. We use it to soothe, psych up, woo, enrage, sadden and cheer each other, or ourselves. And Dave’s voice does just that. I decided to do this special section on Dave as his voice to me is one of the best baritones in the music business particularly in the pop genre I have heard. Even being a very mischievous child always getting into trouble in the teenage days, and then again during the music career many times falling prey to temptations, fatal sometimes, yet Dave Gahan is the driving face of this band and the voice too……to the world and to me……there will be none like him.
Ultra and Exciter
These two albums are my top favorites, that’s why this special mention. Both these albums have ample material in them to really focus on the creative excellence of this band in their truest form. A must listen to these two albums is my top recommendation.
In the end
My love for the music of Depeche Mode will always be up there and I will wish as many of their fans that they will be in good health and spirits and will gift us with more music in the future, with the same brilliance of creativity that has been maintained by the band, and unlike many bands they haven’t shifted at all from their genre, that is electro pop with ambient brilliance…….long live Depeche Mode..