The third single from Depeche Mode‘s most recent album Delta Machine was the Dave Gahan-penned Should Be Higher. It was the most uptempo and obviously commercial single to be released from the album, and got a justifiably respectable chart placing.
This time around, the first disc of the single seemed a bit pointless to me – there’s just the single version, and then an edited version of one of the remixes from the second disc. To be blunt, it’s not entirely clear to me why anyone would bother with the first disc.
First up is a pretty dreadful interpretation from Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman. You might enjoy this if you like Grinderman, but otherwise it’s just a noisy mess of drums and guitars, and probably isn’t worth bothering with. Not a great start. Next comes the full Little Vampire remix, which is quite fun as a piece of semi-experimental electronic music, but it doesn’t really add a huge amount to the original. You could probably skip this one too, if the truth be told.
At this point, you might well be wondering whether you wasted your money on this release. You didn’t, although you perhaps could have saved a bit by buying just one track – the Maps remix is truly exceptional. It’s tempting to suggest it might even be better than the original. Gahan’s vocal is now surrounded by soft analogue synths, in the form of pad swells and chirping counter-melodies. The drums are perhaps a little too retro in places, but otherwise this is a truly remarkable remix.
Inconsistency is the theme here though, as Jim Jones Revue‘s truly dreadful version turns up to ruin things again. At best, the piano line is vaguely reminiscent of the Doctor Who theme building into something out of the 1950s; at worst, the rock ‘n’ roll guitar part is bloody awful and doesn’t fit the vocals in the slightest. Well, I’m all for a bit of experimentation when remixing and choosing remixers, so this isn’t entirely a criticism, but sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly why you would bother releasing something this uncommercial.
But then finally, popped right on the end, we get the original radio mix, edited by Mark “Spike” Stent, who has been editing and engineering mixes since time immemorial. On this he manages a respectable edit, trimming about a minute and a half of unnecessary fat, leaving something short, punchy, and entirely listenable. It’s tempting to wonder if they put it right at the end rather than the start to lift your spirits after some of the other dross you’ve had to put up with.
So the Should Be Higher single is definitely a mixed bag, and should probably be treated with caution, whatever your tastes. But with the Maps version and the excellent radio edit, it has its redeeming qualities, and was a worthy third single.
You can find Should Be Higher – The Remixes at all major CD and download retailers. The first disc is available separately, but I can only imagine it’s worth bothering with if you’re an absolute completist.