A few months ago a close friend asked me to list the five best Depeche Mode albums.
I, of course, jumped at the chance and had a think about which five to choose. For no reason other than the above mentioned and because I’ve been listening to them a bit recently I thought I’d go through the process again, with absolutely no memory of what I chose last time (I’m sure it can’t be that different though).
I’m not sure this one is the best but it’s been my favourite for quite some time, not least for the fact that it has my favourite ever Depeche Mode track, Stripped, on it. It starts wonderfully, with Black Celebration being one of my favourite intros of all time. In kicks Fly on the Windscreen, after that intro and this really is a powerhouse of a track. It’s a darker period of the Mode’s history and some of the lyrics eloquently show that. They get all political too, with tracks like New Dress, having a very obvious dig at the press affecting the running of Britain. And that is not even mentioning that this is the album that houses Question of Time and Question of Lust, easily two of their best songs. I never tire of it and I can’t see it ever being knocked off its lofty position here.
This was a renaissance for the Mode, coming back after an absence and producing some of their best stuff ever. In fact I believe this is their best album in terms of quality, as it just brims with great songs from start to finish: Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence, perfect pop singles, whilst Waiting for the Night is one of the most beautiful songs in their discography. It opens exquisitely with World in My Eyes and ends even more perfectly with Clean. Man this album is fantastic!
3. Music for the Masses
I was so so excited about this album prior to its release, buzzed as I was by Strangelove‘s brilliance and it didn’t let me down (heh – I love my Depeche Mode in-jokes!). It’s got a couple on it that don’t pass the DM grade for me, Sacred, easily one of their weaker tracks. However, this album has Little 15, Behind the Wheel, and Nothing, and with the two aforementioned singles it means you are getting one fine album for your money.
4. Some Great Reward
I don’t think this album was in the five last time because I had given my copy away and had not listened to it for a while. I think this album is Depeche at their best, when they are at their most popular. I don’t think it comes anywhere near to the previous three but it has charm and it has character. If you ignore Lie to Me (as I try to), you have to remember that this is the album where People are People, Master and Servant, Somebody, and the gorgeous Blasphemous Rumours live, and most people actually have one of those four (usually People are People) as their favourite Depeche Mode song. The only songs that come anywhere near are: Just Can’t Get Enough (one of my least favourites) and Everything Counts. Like I said it doesn’t have the impact of the other three but it’s wonderful nonetheless.
5. Construction Time Again
I wanted to say Ultra, I was going to say Ultra, why did I say this one? Well I went for this because again, like number four, it takes us back to a time of Depeche Mode in their ascendancy and does it bloody well. It has Everything Counts on it and it has Love in Itself but it’s a couple of album tracks that elevate its position for me and they are Pipeline, more for its quirkiness than any real quality and Two Minute Warning, which was Alan Wilder’s brief moment in the limelight (and a jolly fine one in my opinion)!
Although two of my favourite Mode songs are Leave in Silence and See You the latter easily one of the best pop songs of all time), I just felt that A Broken Frame was missing something.
And we won’t talk of Speak and Spell or Exciter will we? No… good…