Depeche Mode – 101: Still the best thing ever

I’M BACK!

As a result of birthday gift certificates, I’ve opted to procure Depeche Mode – 101 on DVD, for a meager sum from Amazon. It was, for most of my late teens, the best thing ever, closely followed by the VHS for Ministry’s In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up LIVE. I’m happy to report that now, more than twice the age of my initial viewing, 101 is still at least as good. It is, without question, the perfect encapsulation of what it was to be completely enamored with Depeche Mode in the late 80s.

We in middle-America (save Chicago and Detroit) had none of the distractions of acid house or techno, so we could religiously focus our devotion on the Essexians that most defined our musical growth (especially when Rick Dees was the most important DJ of my formative years). The Smiths, New Order, Erasure, The Pet Shop Boys, The Cure and more – all these guys were immense, but Depeche Mode, for a guy who grew up less than 20 miles from Pasadena, were always going to be the most important (they had 10,000 people turn up for a record signing, single-handedly causing a traffic jam).

People Are People was #1 locally! This music had its home. The Valley was it. That’s where I grew up. It left a lasting impression, despite my prematurity for it. To make a long story short, for us who were thusly defined, supplemented by120 minutes, Depeche Mode could not be more important, and this DVD captures it all at its peak. I’m actually glad this is recorded pre-Violator, as that would probably be too much for one DVD. And it keeps Violator on its own, as the best album ever, which it is without question.

Next up, the full Live at the Rose Bowl performance, which is disk 2. I can’t wait!

2 thoughts on “Depeche Mode – 101: Still the best thing ever”

  1. I never had a chance to hear the CD or watch the DVD. There was a time within the past 2 years when I revisited my Depeche Mode CDs. It sounds like my relationship to their music was much like yours; they were my #1 band, for lack of exposure to the fledgling techno scene in the late 80s.

    Upon listening to my DM CDs they didn’t age well to my ears. I’m saying this primarily because the sounds they use really dated their music more than most bands of their time. The songwriting is generally great, but while they sounded so cutting edge in the 80s, this part was lost on me in 2007/8.

    I’ll admit I never liked Speak and Spell, it sounded too bleepy to me, even in 1987. Construction time again through Music for the Masses represents that sound that I’m having trouble enjoying now for anything other than historical purposes.

    Now I’m with you that Violator is the height, and even though again there’s a lot (and I mean A LOT) of dated presets-from-1990 sounds on that album, the songwriting is so perfect that has to stay as untouchable 🙂

  2. Yeah, I guess where we differ is that from A Broken Frame through Music For the Masses, I’m not fussed at all if it sounds dated. It sounds idiosyncratic rather than dated to my ears, I suppose – although I won’t disagree that I loved the syntheticness of it at the time. I suspect that even back then it was always more about these songs rather than the novelty of the synthesis for me, and particularly where you can see Alan Wilder written all over it (I hear this lots on Black Celebration and Music For the Masses – although I could be totally wrong about this suspicion). It’s just that it all fits perfectly with the early Recoil stuff, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t. If you get the Hydrology 1 + 2 CD you’ll maybe see what I mean – although I suppose you may just think that sounds dated too! 🙂

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