A couple of months ago, I wrote about my friend Adam and his mega-music list that myself and a few friends are discussion over in a private message on Facebook. Dan mentioned that the Cure were kind of a one-trick pony by Wish, but he hadn’t heard much by them after that. So I wrote a post I hoped would educate him on what I felt were the Cure’s strong moments after Wish.
Flash forward to a recent conversation, where our friend Jim in naming his favorite Depeche Mode songs from the list wrote:
Best: shake the disease
Worst: I feel you, and all the other stuff post violator that I never listened to.
So, I felt compelled to write a post to Jim listing what I felt were Depeche Mode‘s post-Violator high points, because I think there are plenty.
Like I did with The Cure post-Wish suggestions, I’ll work my way through chronologically. Of all the the albums that came after Violator in the Depeche Mode discography, I want to say that my least favorite is Songs of Faith and Devotion, but that’s probably because I was going through a really difficult emotional time in my life.
It was released in March of 1993 around the time I had just broken up with a girl that I had broken up with my long-time girlfriend to start dating. (Did you follow that?) I had realized I still loved my long-time girlfriend and the new girl … while I cared for her…I don’t know. I had a feeling it wouldn’t work out. Or I was scared. Or something.
So I ran back to my long-time girlfriend – who (understandably) wasn’t too receptive about taking me back. So the lyrics to “Walking in My Shoes” –
Now I’m not looking for absolutionForgiveness for the things I doBut before you come to any conclusionsTry walking in my shoes
had kind of a deeper meaning for me. Likewise the lyrics to “Judas” –
Man will surviveThe harshest conditionsAnd stay aliveThrough difficult decisionsSo make up your mind for meWalk the line for meIf you want my love
and “One Caress” –
Well I’m down on my knees againAnd I pray to the only oneWho has the strengthTo bear the painTo forgive all the things that I’ve done.
It was a really painful time in my life emotionally, and this album was on heavy rotation – literally, because I worked in a record store at the time. Even the title seemed to be mocking me.
However, I do really like the aforementioned songs, along with “Get Right With Me,” “Condemnation,” and I’ve warmed to “Rush” over the years as well. The album opener “I Feel You” has a bit of a “Personal Jesus” feel to it, and kicks things off with authority. This album has a great gospel feel to it in many places, and just feels big in general. Aiming for arena rock and largely hitting the mark, in my opinion.
So, it seems that overall I do like Songs of Faith and Devotion, I just have negative associations with the songs. Which I should probably let go of, because the “long-time girlfriend” mentioned above is now my wife.
If I wanted to say that Songs of Faith and Devotion was my least favorite post-Violator, I want to say that Ultra is my favorite.
The entire album is a slow burn, the ebb and flow never quite reaching a crest. I’m thinking here of songs like “Everything Counts,” “Strangelove,” and “Master and Servant,” where I see a definite high point to the record, both tempo- & songwriting-wise. Ultra has some great songs, but it’s more like stringing together a bunch of “Somebody”s and “Little 15″s.
For instance, I would consider “Useless” to be one of the hardest, fastest songs on the record – but it’s not that hard, and it’s not that fast – BPM database says 95 – and the fastest is “It’s No Good” at 100. Not exactly barn-burners. But Ultra isn’t about the flashy dancefloor hits. It’s a very musically sensual album by any measure, and the lyrics are delivered in a similar, languid fashion. Check the slide notes on “Freestate” or the opening verse of “Sister of Night”
Sister of nightWhen the hunger descendsAnd your body’s a fireAn inferno that never endsAn eternal flameThat burns in desire’s name
There’s not a bad song on the album, in my opinion, and that includes the 3 instrumental interludes. My favorite Depeche Mode tracks off Ultra are “It’s No Good,” “The Bottom Line,” and “Useless.” I put “Useless” on a mixtape for a friend many years ago. He didn’t much care for electronic music and the song was so different from what I had come to expect from Depeche Mode – the solid 4/4 (real!) drum beat, the fuzzed-out riff – that I thought it would appeal to anyone who liked music in general. I don’t know if he liked the song too, but I wanted to take that chance. It’s one of my favorite DM songs ever.
Ok, there’s more, but this ran long, so I’m making this a 2-part post. Also, I’m going to do something different. Most of my previous posts were link-riddled to the iTunes store. Yes, they were affiliate links, which means if you click & buy, I get a tiny bit of money for the referral. How tiny? I don’t know, but I haven’t reached the threshold for a payout yet. Anyway, I’ve decided to break out the affiliate links to the bottom of my posts. I’ll post to the songs and albums on the iTunes store with the note that if you buy, I’ll get some small amount of affiliate money. The links in the body of the post will only be to informational or entertainment sites, like DepecheMode.com or my friend’s blog. Let me know in the comments if you prefer having the links at the bottom of the post.
And one more thing:
Walking In My Shoes – Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered 2006) [With Bonus Video]
Judas – Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered 2006) [With Bonus Video]
One Caress – Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered 2006) [With Bonus Video]
Get Right With Me – Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered 2006) [With Bonus Video]
Condemnation – Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered 2006) [With Bonus Video]
Rush – Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered 2006) [With Bonus Video]
I Feel You – Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered 2006) [With Bonus Video]
Personal Jesus – Violator (Remastered) [Bonus Track Version]
Everything Counts – Construction Time Again
Strangelove (2006 Remastered) – Music for the Masses (Remastered)
Master and Servant – Some Great Reward (Remastered)
Somebody – Some Great Reward (Remastered)
Little 15 (2006 Remastered) – Music for the Masses (Remastered)
Useless – Ultra (Remastered)
It’s No Good – Ultra (Remastered)
Freestate – Ultra (Remastered)
Sister of Night – Ultra (Remastered)
The Bottom Line – Ultra (Remastered)