Beginner’s guide to Depeche Mode

Who would have thought that the quartet of odd boys from Basildon who appeared with the slightly cheesy pop of Photographic in 1981 would evolve into one of the world’s best known and best loved stadium rock acts? Their UK following seems to always be a decade or so behind, but across Europe and the Americas in particular, they have an enormous cult-like following, ready to wave their hands in the air as soon as they’re instructed.

Key moments

You might know them as a plinky-plonky pop band from the 1980s, or some kind of Goth electro-rock outfit from the 1990s. Or something entirely different. Forever reinventing themselves, their key moments include Just Can’t Get Enough (1981), Personal Jesus (1989), and Enjoy the Silence (1990).

Where to start

Kick off with the compilation of their finest years with The Singles 86-98 (1998) to get an understanding of why everyone likes them so much. Alternatively, The Best of – Volume 1 (2005) is a pretty competent dip into their career, despite the gaps.

What to buy

Move onto Violator (1990) next, and then discover the best moment of their early careers with Construction Time Again (1983). Their later albums will require a little patience, so maybe go for Music for the Masses (1987) next, and keep going from there.

Don’t bother with

Songs of Faith and Devotion Live (1993) is a bit of a waste of time. Early albums Speak and Spell (1981) and A Broken Frame (1982) are far from bad, but you should probably work your way back to them. Similarly recent output Sounds of the Universe (2009) and Delta Machine (2013) would be bad places to start.

Hidden treasure

Only When I Lose Myself (1998) and its b-side Surrender are every bit as good as anything on their albums, and isan‘s remix of Goodnight Lovers (2002) is a forgotten gem. If you haven’t heard Martin L. Gore‘s first solo EP Counterfeit (1989) then it’s essential listening, and why not try Dave Gahan‘s second solo album Hourglass (2005) while you’re at it? Finally, any of the other live albums or DVDs are a treat – 101 (1989) is the best of the bunch.

For stowaways

5 thoughts on “Beginner’s guide to Depeche Mode

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