Tuesday, December 13, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter D, Part 10)

Can you say you're not that big of a fan if a band released 19 singles between 1981 and 1987 and you have 18 of them? No, I suppose not. Well, then, I guess my days as a Depeche Mode denier are over. I believe Depeche Mode have only graced these pages two or three times in seven-and-a-half years, and I'm sure one of those stories must have been bobbing my head to a cassette of 'Catching Up With Depeche Mode' in my mom's Chevy Caprice station wagon the day I got my driver's license. That was 30-plus years ago, and I still have it. Can you imagine how awful it must sound?

Mrs. LTL likes Depeche Mode, but we come at it from different eras. I enjoy the simplicity of the early years. She likes the arena rock. Ooh, that's low. Forget I said that. We have both volumes of the singles collections on CD, '81-'85 and '86-'98. More than once, going out the door, she's yelled, "bring the Depeche Mode," meaning the one from the later years, but she didn't specify, did she? It only takes about two seconds of that synth opening from "Dreaming of Me" for her to realize her mistake. Of course, if you knew my wife, you would know it really is my mistake. Here's one from the 'Black Celebration' era. That's getting close to the end for me. The band was pretty dark by this time, but this song is downright optimistic.

"But Not Tonight" (Extended Mix)
"But Not Tonight" (Album Version)

14 comments:

Echorich said...

DMode is one of those bands you just have to give in to. Sure they have their "gone to far" period, but they always seem to bring it back. I have seen them tour every era of their sound and in the 80's there wasn't a tour I missed. I think the early material holds up the best. It is of its era, but the band managed to mature and progress. Speak + Spell DMode is NOT A Broke Frame DMode is not Construction Time Again/Some Great Reward DMode. But all are hard, for me, to find enjoyment in.
Then you get to the (American) breakthrough albums...even that was accomplished in stages... Black Celebration which road the wave of their first Singles compilation to radio airplay, Music For The Masses which managed to really sell records for the first time in the US and gave us the classics of Strange Love and Never Let Me Down and then ultimately Violator which was untouchable.
Much can be discussed on where the band went after Violator in the 90s, but they brought it back with Exciter for me - sure it was BIG MUSIC - not sure I would call it Arena or Stadium Rock/Pop, but it was big. Playing the Angel in 2005 was really edgy and 2009's Sounds Of The Universe was the sound of a refreshed DMode. Oh, and they like Pet Shop Boys, NEVER miss a chance to play in Tampa Bay, so I always take advantage of that.

George said...

You got me thinking, Brian, about fan versus not a fan. I looked at what I have, three singles and four albums, but I think it was a case of "maybe this album is better than the last one of theirs I bought". So I'll be in the Not A Fan category. I should have stuck to buying the singles.

TheRobster said...

I'm with Mrs LTL - from Black Celebration onwards for me. I'm not sure I agree with Echorich about the early material holding up the best - it sounds so dated to these ears. But then I was never a big fan of synthpop anyway. I'll take the darker stuff any day. That probably says more about me than anything else...

Have to say also the last album was very decent too - Heaven is one of their best songs to date, IMO. Yes, really!

Brian said...

Hey fellas. Thanks for taking the time. Depeche Mode was a singles band for me. Out of all those albums, I only have two... Speak & Spell and Black Celebration. As usual, I lost interest in them as soon as they found a wide audience in this country. That's the way I operate. Quite petty. Either the music is good or it isn't. Popularity shouldn't enter into it. Has been a problem for me ever since I bought my first records.

Echorich said...

Brian - I don't think it's petty at all to shy away from bands that get over the proverbial wall and are discovered by a wider audience. We know the tendency is for these artists to dilute their sound, sell their souls, get caught up in the expectations of their "handlers." This can be very disconcerting to an ardent fan and can go a long way to diminishing their former glories.

Brian said...

That's true, Echorich, and there is nothing more heartbreaking than that soul selling, but I also recall a few times when you've commented how you felt like a certain band was just for you and not for sharing. The two of us are lucky to have several of those just by being Americans that love music from the UK. One I remember you mentioning that I share your affinity for is the Monochrome Set, but there have been many others.

TheRobster said...

Interesting point Echorich. It's weird because I used to be like that when I first got into indie music, but the bands I was into changed their sound quite dramatically to 'fit in' with the burgeoning dance scene (see The Soup Dragons, for instance). I loved it when R.E.M. became a platinum-selling band. I loved it when The White Stripes had a top ten hit and were on every TV show and magazine cover. People who thought I was a bit off the wall for liking all these band they'd never heard of started buying their records and I could say "See, I was right," and "I was there first."

In the case of R.E.M., nowadays the period I'm least likely to listen to is that super-successful period of Out of Time and AFTP, but it's probably more down to over-familiarity and the lack of loud guitars, not because everyone else loved them then.

Echorich said...

Brian - Sure I will certainly mea culpa to my contradictory ways...If I discovered a band and they stayed a outlier from the charts or mainstream, at least in The States, then I absolutely thought of them as one of my bands with no need to share. Others I did everything I could to convince the masses (my friends) to accept in their heart like Christ himself (see Bunnymen, Comsat Angles, Chameleons). As for bands I hold as solely mine, yes Monochrome Set are near the top of that list, along with Felt, A Certain Ratio, Terry Hall, Pale Fountains/Shack/anything Michael Head creates.

Robster - I used to be a real denier of bands that got, what perceived to be, too big. U2, Simple Minds, REM, even Prince fit that category. At the same time there are those bands that I went along for the ride with - Depche Mode, Tears For Fears are good examples.

friend of rachel worth said...

Lost interest after violater when dave gahans drug addiction was mentioned more than the music. Agree with echo some of tbe tracks on later lps recapture that synth simplicity. Black celebration is their peak for me

friend of rachel worth said...

I dont think it was the success of simple minds that drove me away , just that they became shit - belfast child v promised you a miracle

Brian said...

That about sums up Simple Minds, FORW. I made it through Sparkle in the Rain. That seems to be the album that began to split fans, but I liked that one. There was so much love for the last album around here that I bought it. My first since '84. Meh. Wanted to like it, but not sure about all of the fuss. Haven't played it for months.

Echorich said...

Brian - I really like the last three Simple Minds albums, but it was very, very hard to stay a fan after Sparkle In The Rain. You can see the bones of some good songs on Once Upon A Time, but the intent on success scuttled any chance for that to be a good album...After that they just lost the plot for a few albums. There would be some highlights as the 90's ended and the 2000's have for the most part been a gradual return to form in my mind. WHAT THEY WERE THINKING with an acoustic album this year has left me scratching my head and concerned for their future.

Brian said...

The acoustic album was a very bad idea, especially when you consider they finally had momentum and the trust of fans like you. Just awful.

thenewvinylvillain said...

I won't get into the debate as everyone left the room weeks ago, but it was great to read the views and opinions on so many bands - quite a lot up there I agreed with.

But I'll just say this. Depeche Mode were decent enough until Vince Clarke left them. After that, they did very little for me.