Tag Archives: Depeche Mode

The Depeche Mode 101 Rose Bowl Concert

It’s good. It’s basically just the CD with video accompaniment though. So buy the DVD for the whole package, buy the CD/vinyl for your routine listening needs.

I still think this is such a perfect time capsule of (pockets of) American infatuation with Depeche Mode. There are moments in almost every song that have a huge affect on me. PIMPF in particular invokes a direct emotional response as soon as it’s playing. It is the musical invocation of anticipation.

As I watch it I get grand ideas (as I am prone to do) abut throwing these tracks in to DJ sets. I would love to hear the 101 version of Stripped on a Funktion 1 system to kick off a DJ set, or Everything Counts to end one. I just wish people who are brave enough to include DM in their DJ sets would reach beyond the obvious. The last thing we need is DJs playing the DM equivalent of Blue Monday (and might I add what an absolutely worthless selection that is as a DJ). I would be happy for many months if someone surprised me and dropped Blue Dress in the middle of a set.

Depeche Mode – 101: Still the best thing ever


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!

Hydrology Plus 1 + 2

Had a bit of moolah in ye olde paypal reserves as a result of selling a few items via my Discogs page and eBay in recent months, so I repurchased Alan Wilder’s first two solo records as Recoil, 1+2 circa ’86 and Hydrology circa ’87. I used to own the CD which compiles these two records, but I believe it was one of the victims of the 2001 car thefts. At any rate, I now own it again for the first time on wax.

So who is this Alan Wilder you ask? He be the man that replaced Vince Clarke in Depeche Mode after Speak & Spell, then left in 1995, sometime around Dave Gahan’s heroin addiction by my faulty memory. To situate the music, you need first think of Black Celebration and Music For the Masses era Depeche Mode, without the singing, with a bunch of disparate vocals, from indigenous peoples to operatic shit. There are five tracks across the two records, ranging in length from 14 to almost 19 minutes, save the first track which clocks in at 7:43. Within these lengths he builds up some serious density, and roves a fair amount, often incorporating a few movements.

The result is totally coherent, and these were landmark works for their time. In my mind, nothing much approached this level of coherence, complexity and artistry in electronic music then. This was before Detroit Techno as we know it today – contemporary with its beginnings. It had little to do with it and less to do with Chicago house. It was its own electronic beast. I guess its most common style would have to be ambient stuff a la Eno and maybe Tangerine Dream, and I certainly hear some Reich in there.

That “Love on a Fast Train” track from Risky Business (which also accompanies the youngest boy in The Squid & the Whale) that I posted my surprise about a while ago is maybe fairly comparable. Maybe it sounds most like Global Communication’s 76:14 album (on which Maiden Voyage is the interpolation of Love on a Fast Train), but eight years earlier, and probably the superior work given how well it holds up 20 years down the line. I listened to this album hundreds of times in the 90s and never tired of it. I can’t recall the last time I listened to all of 76:14 straight through. Having it again now is a treat. If you’ve never heard it and love that middle era Depeche Mode like I do, definitely give it a go.