Depeche Mode/Speak & Spell [Remastered]

Speak & Spell (Remastered)

Depeche Mode (pronounced /dɛˈpɛʃ/, de-PESH) are an English electronic music band which formed in 1980, in Basildon, Essex. The group’s original line-up consisted of Dave Gahan (lead vocals), Martin Gore (keyboards, guitar, vocals, chief songwriter after 1981), Andrew Fletcher (keyboards) and Vince Clarke (keyboards, chief songwriter 1980–81). Vince Clarke left the band after the release of their 1981 debut album, Speak & Spell, and was replaced by Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums) with Gore taking over songwriting. Wilder left the band in 1995 and since then Gahan, Gore, and Fletcher have continued as a trio.

Depeche Mode have had forty-eight songs in the UK Singles Chart and #1 albums in UK, US and throughout Europe. According to EMI, Depeche Mode have sold over 100 million albums and singles worldwide[1], making them the most successful electronic band in music history.[2][3] Q Magazine calls Depeche Mode “The most popular electronic band the world has ever known”.

This was the only Depeche Mode album with Vince Clarke as a member of the band. Clarke wrote most of the songs for the band, before departing to form the synthpop duo Yazoo with Alison Moyet and later, the duo Erasure with Andy Bell.

The album is significantly lighter in tone and melody than their later work, a direction which can largely be attributed to Clarke’s writing. After he left, Martin Gore took over songwriting duties, writing almost all of the band’s material. Later albums written by him would explore darker subjects and melodies.

The album title alludes to the then-popular “Speak & Spell” electronic toy.

When interviewed by Simon Amstell for Channel 4‘s Popworld programme in 2005, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher both stated that the track “What’s Your Name?” was their least favourite Depeche Mode song of all time.

New Life—-Perhaps one of my favorite Depeche singles, this is strongly because of the pop sensibilities of Clarke. The heavy pop synths and the vocal harmonies are still exquisite. The masterful synth lines have Clarke written all over them…many seemingly show up in later music created by Clarke. Gahan sounds so young and vibrant…when the whole band comes together in harmony it is an ecstatic moment that lives on thanks to remastered CD’s.  This is brilliant and a hell of a lot of fun.

Puppets—-Beginning with a rather rudimentary yet charming synth line, Gahan enters with a slow and seductive vocal that brings to mind a nice cross between new Wave and club music that seems to fit the band masterfully well. the vocal has sex dripping from every line…Gahan sings in a tone that is not as deep and intense as later recordings…this was a young band finding their footing…this set a nice bar for other future recordings. Who could have imagined the band would still be on the scene 25 years later?

Dreaming Of Me—-Another Clarke masterpiece that never grows old, the band still performs this song live to a huge crowd response. The sound is unmistakable…when you hear the opening synth lines of this song you instantly know who you are listening to. The vocal and lyric is a bit darker that most of the stuff on this release. The overlayed vocal or the band harmonies create this huge sound that is just wonderful…sweet memories and classic reminders of how this all started back in the early 80’s. This truly is historical!

Boys Say Go!—-This is remarkable…this has the new Wave label all over the entire damn thing. The English bands that were invading america at this time were a dime a dozen, but even this little known song belied the talent and irresistable pop sensibilities of this band. this is quaint, classy and a lot of fun. I love this stuff!!!!

No Disco—-Again, this has a rhythmic synth line that is just classic Vince Clarke. Gahan enters with a vocal that is so close to Moyet that you look at the CD cover for a moment…this could have been a huge Yaz song!!! This has all the elements of the synth blues that Clarke and Alison produced together..I can understand in a way why Vince moved on…he needed that independence to display his genius. it seemed to have worked out for everyone involved. This is brilliant!!!

What’s Your Name?—-Although this track is reportedly disliked by the majority of the band, this is catchy as hell and laden with Clarke synth lines that helped define him as a masterful songwriter. This is chessy..yes, but the harmonies are remarkable and the pop sensibility of the whole thing is undeniable!

Photographic—-The remarkable and energetic synth lines would follow the band for a few releases before they became the dark synth Goths of the world. This is remarkable if only for the vocal harmonies that are all over the song…the overlays on the voice beef up the song and give it a remarkable darker sound. Clarke again produces synth lines that are so contagious you will back this up to hear it once again…this is wonderful.

Tora! Tora! Tora!—-Although this has some really nice synth atmosphere and drum machine inspired bass, the vocal seems uninspired and the track falls flat for me. This has never been a song that I have gotten through the first few bars of…this sounds much more like Ultravox  than DM to me. This is acceptable, but not a favorite.

Big Muff—-Whatever….what the hell kind of title is that? The synths are erratic and a bit to hyper for me on this rather pop oriented record. This is ok, but really…this just misses the mark for me… lacks a sense of direction and is a bit to aimless for my tastes.

Any Second Now [Voices]—-This reminds me of later DM, the tone of the song is much darker, layered and intense. Gahan delivers a vocal that is sedate and introspective with some nice overlays that makes it seem as if three or four people are singing. Although this has a classic sound, the dense arrangements makes it less than accessible. This again, sounds like a Yaz song to me.

Just Can’t Get Enough—-Perhaps one of the best known DM songs and one of the most poppy, this borders on brilliant with little effort. The synth lines are huge and the whole band aids in the vocal delivery. giving the song a much larger feel. this song was pretty damn big for the band and it has the Clarke authorship all over it. This is incredible…love this and have never tired of it after all of these years. Wonderful!!!

**** out of 5


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