Long before this blog ever existed, some time around late 2000 or early 2001, I started compiling a list of essential albums. There were just six entries, and this was the second.
Depeche Mode – Ultra (1997)
- Chart Position: 1
- Hits: Barrel of a Gun (4), It’s No Good (5), Home (23), Useless (28)
- Highlights: Home, Sister of Night, Freelove
Although less popular than their 1990 release Violator, Ultra is a beautifully crafted album which tells of the struggles that almost ended the group at several points throughout the 1990s, and is the culmination of several years’ work. Guest appearances come from the renowned pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole and the drummer from German electronic pioneers Can, and the album is produced by former Bomb the Bass frontman Tim Simenon.
If I were picking “essential albums” now, I would probably go for Violator, even though it is a more predictable choice. But Ultra does hold a very special place in my heart – it’s a difficult album to love, but very rewarding indeed when you find space for it. The Beginner’s guide to Depeche Mode is here.