Depeche Mode - Rate and Discuss Your Favorite Albums

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. George P

    George P Smellin' Like A Rose Thread Starter

    Please vote in the poll and tell us your favorite Studio Depeche Mode Albums.

    And then tell us how you rate each of the Depeche Mode albums that you have heard. For uniformity, use a 5 star system. To make it easy, I am including this list:

    I'm at work, so I can't say much now, but I wanted to get this ball rolling. I will report back later.
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  2. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident

    The Alan Wilder years. No doubt. Take "Never Let Me Down Again": stubborn two-note melody from Gore, oversung by Gahan... still manages to be majestic, euphoric and uncompromising... all down to Alan Wilder.

    I chose the trio Black Celebration, Music for the Masses, and Violator, for two reasons: (1) they soundtracked my teen years, and Depeche Mode is a band you must find during your teen years, and (2) they are simply the band at its peak.

    Ever heard that phrase about Phil Spector (or was it Brian Wilson), "teenage symphonies to God"? Here they are, theee albums' worth (Some Great Reward is a fourth place).
  3. Beatnik_Daddyo'73

    Beatnik_Daddyo'73 Music Addiction Personified

    Black Celebration
    Music For the Masses

    The perfect trio of albums imo......
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  4. Beatnik_Daddyo'73

    Beatnik_Daddyo'73 Music Addiction Personified

    Haha... @bunglejerry we must have been typing at the same time and we picked the same three albums. :cheers:
    ...I'm a big Mr Bungle fan too, so there's that as well.
  5. driverdrummer

    driverdrummer Forum Resident

    Irmo, SC
    Violator, Ultra, Playing the Angel
  6. George P

    George P Smellin' Like A Rose Thread Starter

    Almost my three as well. In place of Playing The Angel I chose Music For The Masses.
  7. RTW

    RTW Forum Resident

    I picked Songs of Faith and Devotion, which I feel is the culmination of everything they'd done up to that point *and* their best single work.
    Then I picked Music for the Masses, which raised them to superstar caliber in the first place, and Ultra, because it surpassed all expectations.

    To the person above who pigeonholed them by saying, "Depeche Mode is a band you must find during your teen years," I say this is true if you're talking about Some Great Reward and Black Celebration (still great records). Beyond that, however, I think DM make adult music, and there is little if anything that they've done after Violator that has that degree of teen angst to it.
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  8. George P

    George P Smellin' Like A Rose Thread Starter

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  9. negative1

    negative1 80s retro fan

    to me, this is my favorite trilogy

    after that it pretty much went downhill. all of them are basically 1-3 stars at the most.

    speak and spell was a good start, at having vince clarke around helped too....

    this era was the most creative, the most productive, had the best artwork,
    the best singles, and the best remixes.

    yes, from time to time, they have a decent set of songs, or mixes.

    but nothing even close to that era for me.

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  10. George P

    George P Smellin' Like A Rose Thread Starter

    I am also curious to know which Depeche Mode album folks find to be the most underrated?
  11. paradox55

    paradox55 Forum Resident

    Songs of Faith and Devotion
    Delta Machines
  12. morgan1098

    morgan1098 Forum Resident

    Me three! That trio of albums is perfection.
  13. morgan1098

    morgan1098 Forum Resident

    I should also add that although it's not a studio album, 101 might even top those other three. One of the best live albums by any band ever.
  14. George P

    George P Smellin' Like A Rose Thread Starter

    Absolutely! If I was to recommend just one DM release to someone, it would be that one.
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Forum Resident

    North Yarmouth, ME
    It's kinda hard to be objective, as they've been one of my favorite bands going back thirty years! Just like how a lot of teenagers were inspired by the Beatles and the Stones to pick up guitars, DM inspired me when I a teenager in my fascination with synthesizers, electronics and programmed music. My three favorites (although I'd pretty much count their run from Some Great Reward up to Ultra as their "imperial phase", they really were that good IMHO):
    1. Violator
    2. Music For The Masses
    3. Some Great Reward
    How I'd rate each album:
    • Speak & Spell - 3/5
    • A Broken Frame - 2/5
    • Construction Time Again - 3/5
    • Some Great Reward - 5/5
    • Black Celebration - 5/5
    • Music for the Masses - 5/5
    • Violator - 5/5
    • Songs of Faith and Devotion - 5/5
    • Ultra - 4.5/5
    • Exciter - 3/5
    • Playing the Angel - 3/5
    • Sounds of the Universe - 4/5
    • Delta Machine - 2/5
    As far as the most underrated album, I'd hafta say Sounds of the Universe. I know it wasn't too well received among fans but I really liked it, especially the opening trifecta of In Chains, Hole To Feed and Wrong. Perfect was also pretty, well, perfect IMHO.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  16. RTW

    RTW Forum Resident

    Speak & Spell - 1/5 - Catchy, but with insubstantial songwriting, and some real embarrassments. The 1 is primarily for "Photographic" / "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and the way they segue together, hinting at future album artistry.
    A Broken Frame - 2/5 - Veers between good and bad, the best being "Leave in Silence" and "The Sun & The Rainfall" and the worst being everything in between.
    Construction Time Again - 3/5 - Finally, a sense of direction with great sound design and production. Only a few massive songs but no real clunkers. Best = "Everything Counts" and points for the narrative flow on the first side of the album.
    Some Great Reward - 4/5 - Their first major record, known for its landmark singles: "People Are People." "Master and Servant," "Blasphemous Rumours," "Somebody." All have an amazing attention to detail in terms of sound, matched to Martin's growing songwriting ability. Adolescent, but strong. "Lie to Me" and "Stories of Old" are both excellent and underrated.
    Black Celebration - 4.5/5 - The loss of virginity album. Lots of angst here, lots of beauty, some industrial undertones and still a little bit of immaturity, but it's really the first of the classics. I'm of the camp that believes in "But Not Tonight" and loves its hopeful tone when played at the end of the album, but the best tracks are easily "Stripped" and "Fly on the Windscreen," as they demonstrate the point at which DM goes fully widescreen/stadium.
    Music for the Masses - 5/5 - Still their best car album by far, and one of their best produced. "Strangelove" and "BTW" are still their best dance tracks. Best track = "Never Let Me Down Again."
    Violator - 4.5/5 - Unbelievably great singles, but this is the first DM album where the "Martin ballads" feel weaker than the other tracks (i.e. "Sweetest Perfection" and "Blue Dress"). Flood's production is top of the line, but the album feels a little short. "Halo" is my favorite track; not sure if I can cite a best, simply because the singles are so overplayed that I can't hear them fairly anymore.
    Songs of Faith and Devotion - 5/5 - Pretty much the reason why the band was able to stay relevant after the '80s. Here DM proved that their essence was adaptable into rockier forms. They were never as dark, epic, and gorgeous as they are here: "Walking in My Shoes," "In Your Room," "Higher Love." It's almost a trip-hop record; Tricky would later record "Judas." Flood's production keeps it sounding like a cousin to Violator despite the superficial changes.
    Ultra - 4.5/5 - Kicks off with (and reintroduces the band with) "Barrel of a Gun," the perfect DM single for 1997, which found them perfectly in sync with the post-industrial climate of the 90s while simultaneously demonstrating their influence on it. In some ways it's like David Lynch producing Johnny Cash: dark, twangy, and cool, like the transcendent "Freestate" or the soulful "Insight."
    Exciter - 3.5/5 - Mark Bell's glitchy production gave DM a fresh sound for the 2000s here; it's a match made in heaven, keeping DM relevant in the post-Warp/electronica age, but DM didn't quite deliver on the material, so it's a weak record. "Dream On" feels like a slowed down "Personal Jesus" that never goes anywhere, "I Feel Loved" has no melody, "Freelove" required a massive overhaul to give it any hooks. The best songs are tucked away at the end: "I Am You" is a powerful trip-hop number and "Goodnight Lovers" showcases some of Dave's best singing with Martin.
    Playing the Angel - 4/5 - This one is the closest in the late DM canon to "classic" DM and it generated a lot of strong singles, esp. "Precious" which saw DM hit the U.S. charts for the first time in years and "Suffer Well" which adds a little bit of prog to their classic sound via Dave's new songwriting persona (along with his collaborators). It's the first of DM's three albums produced by Ben Hillier and easily the best of the 3.
    Sounds of the Universe - 4/5 - Martin began obsessively collecting analog synths from eBay and it shows here, an album full of squelchy sounds. Easily the noisiest record DM did, it also showcases a variety of experimental songs that don't follow the standard DM "Enjoy the Silence"/"Precious" template (or even the bluesy "Personal Jesus"/"I Feel You" approach). This is their most overt album of synth-pop since the '80s: songs like "Fragile Tension," "Peace," and "Perfect" demonstrate this. Others are rockier/edgier for a new emo audience, like "Wrong" and "Hole to Feed," which goes so far as to electronically process Dave and Martin's voices into one.
    Delta Machine - 3.5/5 - Dave's songs almost eclipse Martin's here, and the best track is "Should Be Higher." (Marvel at his singing.) Otherwise this is low-key and organic sounding: "Angel" and "Heaven" could be Nick Cave songs. What makes this one weaker are the retreads. "Welcome to My World" and "Soothe My Soul" sound like they're trying too hard to touch upon the Violator era. The four additional songs on the deluxe version and the vinyl actually make this a stronger record. (I would love if this one were to close off their electronic gospel sound for once and for all and lead them into a new era of experimentation.)
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  17. RTW

    RTW Forum Resident

    Why? Doesn't Dave sound horrendous? I loved it in 1988 but would be embarrassed to introduce DM to somebody this way now. The Devotional concert DVD is way better: the Corbijn backdrops, Dave's best vocals, Alan on drums, etc.
  18. bunkaroo

    bunkaroo Forum Resident

    I picked the three most popular in this poll, but I could have easily subbed SOFAD for one of them.
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  19. morgan1098

    morgan1098 Forum Resident

    I'm sure there are more polished live recordings, but the energy on 101 can't be matched. The audience becomes part of the performance. Normally that would bother me in a live recording, but it works here. (Note: I'm not talking about the videos for 101 or Devotional, just the listening experience as an album.)
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  20. Yost

    Yost Always Wondered How Other People Did This

    Great band, Depeche Mode. I choose:
    - Music for the Mases
    - Violator
    - Songs of Faith and Devotion

    I have mixed feelings about Violator. I must include it, as it contains the best singles that Depeche Mode ever released. I have owned the CD singles since their release and enjoyed them immensely. Policy of Truth and World in my Eyes are also so well produced and mastered that I use them when auditioning gear. Somehow I never bought the album, and when I recently did I was quite disappointed. I just didn't like the rest of the tracks that much. For the sheer quality of the singles it should be in my top 3, although I only play half of it. Some Great Reward would be my third pick if I had to choose an album I like all tracks on.

    Music for the Mases and Songs of Faith and Devotion are awesome albums on which I like all tracks. I own MotM since its release and it was one of my first CD's. Just like Violator, I bought SoFaD recently. I did it because I wanted to have the singles in more dynamic versions, and was quite surprised I liked the rest of the tracks just as much.

    From Ultra I know only the singles, which I like. But I still have to listen to the rest of the tracks some day. I once owned the 3 noughties albums, but sold them. They're okay, but repeat what the band did before. And don't have awesome stand-out tracks, IMHO. I never heard Delta Machine.

    For the earlier albums I nowadays rely on the first compilation album. I still never listened to their first 2 albums. Construction Time Again contains the best early track, Everything Counts. But the rest of the tracks don't live up to this high standard. I once owned Some Great Reward and Black Cebration on vinyl. I still want to buy SGR on CD, but don't feel that way about CTA. I enjoy the album when I hear it, but it's a bit to dark and mid tempo for my taste.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  21. Yost

    Yost Always Wondered How Other People Did This

    Wow, great reviews for the albums I know, although I would rate the post 1999 albums lower.
  22. jeffmo789

    jeffmo789 Give The Gift of Music!

    New England

    Honorable mention to PTA, but it loses points for loudness war mastering (vinyl sounds better btw).
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  23. George P

    George P Smellin' Like A Rose Thread Starter

    I find that interesting. No love for Waiting For The Night or Halo or Clean?
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  24. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    Black Celebration, basically. I'm not sure exactly what I have but I think it's the first five up to this one, plus Violator. As with many bands, it's been ages since I listened to any of them but Black Celebration gets an occasional-regular spin and it stands out IMHO.
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  25. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    I'm with Negative on this one
    A Broken Frame
    Construction Time Again
    Some Great Reward
    Tough to rate as I can usually find something I like from their discography
    I'll add Music For The Masses also, love the mixes and b-sides that accompany this album :)
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