Living with…Depeche Mode…for a week
I’ll confess it now. I love electronica . I love it a lot. Particularly the stuff that came out of the 80s. On the pop side I’ve avidly consumed all the music of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and watched them live on numerous occasions. I enjoyed and bought the hits of Blancmange, Erasure and Yazoo. My tipple of choice will often be a dose of Tangerine Dream or a shot of Tomita or more recently a slug of Ulrich Schnauss. My obsessive love of Klaus Schulze’s (KS to his fans) obscure bleeps and mutterings has long been a cause of puzzlement for M. Let’s get this clear – KS is the godfather of electronic music – there’s no disputing that. Why take three minutes to develop a melody and theme when thirty will do.
Which leaves my consciuous ignoring of Depeche Mode (or DM as they’re known to their fans) all the more puzzling. DM are the most commercially successful group that would fall under the category electronica having sold over 100 million albums worldwide and regularly charting single-wise and album-wise since the mid 80s. This week’s album Violator has sold over 13 million alone.
So why oh why have I never really listened to DM before? It can’t be the music. From the opening bars of World in my Eyes to the final fade on Clean this is great electronic music. Due to car trouble this week, this ended up playing on the players of several vehicles and I relished turning up the volume in each! There are connections back here musically to the krautrock of KS and Tangerine Dream and dare I say it even to Pink Floyd – is that the opening sequence to Sheep I hear for a few moments? The sound could be described as bleak at times, but nothing wrong with that – its what electronica does well. So it wasn’t the music…
So why oh why have I never really listened to DM before? Have they committed some crimes with their lyrics? Well, there are moments where minor muggings are committed on the English language –
“When I need a drug in me
And it brings out the thug in me
Feel something tugging me
Then I want the real thing not tokens”
The combination of drug, thug and tug shows we’re not in laureate territory, but I’ve earlier confessed to loving OMD so I must be fairly forgiving on the lyrics front already. And that sounds like the worst crime on this album, so it can’t be the lyrics that kept me away…
So why oh why have I never really listened to DM before? Is it because they’re from Basildon? Much as I’d like to reveal some deep antipathy to them based on a connection to Crystal Palace or such, I can’t find it. Basildon as in Basildon Bond the paper people. I can’t really be offended so its not because they’re from Basildon
So why oh why have I never really listened to DM before? I’m left with the most deciding factor, particularly of the 80s. Hair. Yes, HAIR. That’s what I remember now – DM had stupid haircuts. And clearly I was impressionable and this is what swayed my music listening behaviour. After all, one look at a picture of Martin L Gore should confirm that desicion:
Clearly too much for a young man like myself to have coped with in the 80s. I preferred my music from real men who had real men’s haircuts like the Alarm (we didn’t shorten the band name):
See…who would you have gone for in your music tastes back then? The peroxide permed DM or the post-punk boys from Rhyll? DM went on to sell 100 million, The Alarm scraped 5 million. So clearly the perms have it.
Anyway, to round off the week by discussing the music. Violator is a brilliant album end to end, particularly the two singles Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence so go on to spotify or napster and enjoy.
And I’ve learnt not to base all my decision-making on hair.
Oh and as a final special treat here is Johnny Cash performing Personal Jesus. Combining great song with great voice. We won’t worry about the hair. Perfect.