If you were lucky enough to be able to get a copy of Depeche Mode‘s last album Sounds of the Universe in ultra-limited edition box set form, you’ll have got this rather fun disc of demos with it. The CD spans most of their career, with a range of demos from across Martin L. Gore‘s tenure as lead songwriter.
In demo form, Little 15 is a fully-fledged song, but instead of the beautiful finished track it seems to have started out as some kind of deep and dark pad-driven track. Clean and Sweetest Perfection have a similarly dark energy which sounds almost entirely unlike the final album version. Prior to meeting their final producers, it seems Depeche Mode songs are very dark indeed.
A particular highlight is the demo of Walking in My Shoes which gains a rasping bass line and slightly trippy drum beat. Excellent 1998 b-side Surrender and a-side Only When I Lose Myself are among the least different from their final versions, and even then it’s perhaps only the general energy and mood that are similar.
Another highlight is a brilliant version of Nothing’s Impossible, which brings out a melancholy which seems to have somehow been lost in the final version. Even at its worst, this collection of demos is totally intriguing. At its best, these versions could easily stand up for themselves as alternative mixes.
If any of our previous sets of demos was an educational experience, they had nothing on this. Depeche Mode without their producers are an entirely different beast, and that’s ignoring the fact that a lot of them are sung by Martin L. Gore. Here’s Walking in My Shoes: