Depeche Mode / The Singles 86-98


The Singles 86>98

The Singles 86>98 is a singles compilation album released in 1998 by Depeche Mode. It was released as a follow-up to the bands previous compilation, The Singles 81→85, which was also re-released in the same year. The compilation covers the band’s 7-inch single releases spanning five studio albums (from 1986’s Black Celebration to 1997’s Ultra), as well as including the band’s 1998 stand-alone single “Only When I Lose Myself”. Also included is “Little 15” (from Music for the Masses, released in Europe, and the live version of “Everything Counts” (from the live album 101) which was released as a single in 1989. All tracks on The Singles 86>98 were newly remastered, as was the case with the re-release of The Singles 81→85.

The four-month Singles Tour that followed marked the first time Depeche Mode had toured since the 1993-94 Devotional/Exotic Tour (they had declined to tour to support Ultra a year earlier, instead they only played a few shows with a small number of songs).

As of April 2006, The Singles 86>98 has sold 562,000 units in the U.S. (double albums count as two units), achieving platinum status. This album was also listed in Blender magazine’s 500 CD’s You Must Own.

The Analysis:

Disc One—-

Stripped—-Firmly seated in the darker tones of the synthesizer, this single finds the band further exploring the deep seeded emotions that seemed to shout out to dis-enfranchised youth. This has that great machine sound to it…the production quality on this is so fantastic.The lyrical content causes you to stop…think and examine life even more than usual…exactly as music is meant to be. 

A Question Of Lust—-Delivering more huge, dark and industrial stylized synth pop, the vocal on this track is magnificent. There is a nice slight orchestration that runs through the back of this song…despite all of the loud noises on the song, it remains quite beautiful. The chorus is magnificent…taking you from a high to a crashing low in a matter of seconds….just incredible!

A Question Of Time—-Returning to a much lighter delivery, this single was made for the late 80’s dance floor without a doubt. The vocal and the lyric still hangs on to that darker element of the band, but the synth lines are delivered at hyper speed….provoking you to get out of your chair and move…despite the morosity of the lyric.

Strangelove—-Taken from the release Music For The Masses, this release seemed to mark a turning point for the band as the fan base in the US began to grow and grow..allowing then to begin the journey of becoming one of the biggest and well-known bands on the planet. This is not that far of a departure from any of the music that the band had made in the past…perhaps the mainstream US was finally ready for some quality.

Never Let Me Down Again—-This track is delivered with huge overtones…the track is literally HUGE. Full of bombastic bass and slight homo-erotic overtones, this none the less became a pretty moderate hit for the band in the US and huge worldwide. This still keeps firmly seated in the huge machine oriented sounds that the band is comfortable with…the vocal is fantastic and the lyric content causes you to take a few minutes to really ponder it all.

Behind The Wheel—-With the great plate on the floor sound effect at the onset of the song, i must have every single remix of this song ever made. This track combines a nice mix of current depeche mode with the more familiar sounds of the band in its earlier stage. The synth line is so danceable…the vocal is varied and not so monotone…with Gore singing as much as Gahan. This is landmark for me.

Personal Jesus—-This single marked a turning point for the band….all of a sudden Depeche Mode was the coolest and most popular band on the planet. The sound is not that much different from anything that they had done in the past…the songwriting is a fantastic as ever and the synth lines are as powerful as they ever were. I’m not sure what caused the huge Depeche Mode band wagon in the early 90’s…to me, it only caused problems for the band and made it impossible to ever produce anything as well accepted as Violator.

Enjoy The Silence—-For me, this was one of the weaker songs on Violator…but somehow became this huge hit. This is classic Depeche really…combining a more aggressive sound with the same contagious synth lines that were present from single one, this is just a continuation for all of the long-term fans of the band….many though they were discovering something new and fresh…they had no idea.

Policy Of Truth—-This still remains one of my other favorite Depeche mode singles, this is catchy as hell….loaded with lyrics that many people should pay attention to and a hook that is remarkable. From the onset, this song managed to appeal to cross over audiences every where…the bass heavy beat had a subtle R n B sound that did well even on Urban Radio. This was the pinnacle of a long and successful career. It is impossible to get this song out of your head.

World In My Eyes—-Again, delivered with a light R n B vibe, the synths on this track are much more pronounced and delivered with a nice dose of funk. Mysteriously and glaringly absent are the machine sounds of the middle era of Depeche Mode…you no longer hear the clanking and clang that were in the past few records from the band. instead you have a much glossier and polished Depeche…one that actually has a production budget…and it shows.

Disc Two—-

I Feel You—-Although this still contains some of the classic sounds that made Violator such a huge hit, the mass public did not embrace this record. The long time fans of the band ate this up….overjoyed by the return to a darker and more layered sound that made the band our darlings. This is a noisy song…delivering layer upon layer of sound…but still a favorite of mine.

Walking In My Shoes—-From the onset, this is very nice. The shuffling synth beat matches the vocal nuances to a tee. The song is well constructed and delivered…althoug it was largely ignored by the entire world. the chorus is classic Mode all the way…this differed very little from the more classic material…the problem, was that everyone was expecting Violator Pt. II….not gonna happen!

Condemnation—-This is a rather pretty song…..the musical delivery is remarkably pretty and the vocal is full of more emotion than Gahan has conjured up in years. The gentle tambourine and the backdrop vocals give the track a nice emotional feel…leaving you pondering the meaning of the whole damn thing and wondering why, after all of these years, you don’t have this band figured out yet!

In Your Room—-Although the songs shows some nice promise at the onset, the noise of the introduction settles rather quickly and instead delivers another sappy ballad that lacks the energy of the previous song. This, to me, is a band only going through the motions..perhaps due to the addictions of Gahan. The song does deliver some stellar moments in the instrumentation, but it is short-lived and leaves me rather empty.

Barrel Of A Gun—-One of my favorite tracks from the latter-day Depeche Mode, this track has a nice darkness that really appeals to me. The bass beats that introduce the song are bombastic and the vocal from Gahan is very manipulated and gives the band a very modern sound…which I think they needed. This is remarkable…sedate yet powerful thanks to the music, this has a place in my brain forever.

It’s No Good—-Coming out of a slight fog with a nice aggressive synth line, the song quickly becomes familiar as it seems to be a retread of the last few songs. I like the vocal alot…the Gahan monotone is elevated a bit and sounds remarkably fresh…perhaps that is not him…my bad. This is catchy…the chorus manages to stick in your brain, although the rest of the song is not memorable.

Home—-Returning to a darker and more layered delivery, the sound of the band changed with the technology as it became available. The vocal is nice, but is not Gahan…this is the other guy…LOL!!! The track is so morose and dark…you wonder whether the dark spots of the personal life from Gahan was riding over into the songs…this was NOT a good time for the band and it showed in the output.

Useless—-This is nice….right from the onset, it is noisy and layered with magnificent dark sounds. I love the vocal…delivered with a certain air of nonchalance but also so much emotion…this is great. This song…probably only heard by a few thousand people…sounds really fresh and alive to me…a new favorite…..wonderful, just what I needed!!!

Only When I Lose Myself—-This is lackluster at best….not really sure if this was really released as a single, but it probably should never have been. This is lacking a certain magic that drove the band. This is sedate and clouded by the addiction of Gahan…this is a desperate stab that missed the body altogether!

Little 15—-This is an interesting re-working of the song taken from the Music for The Masses release. this has a nice orchestrated sound that runs through the entire song…reminding you of the innovative minds that make up this band. This is nice, but I’m not sure why it is included here at this spot?

Everything Counts—-Taken from Depeche Mode 101, recorded at the Rose Bowl, I’m sure it is included here because of the sheer magnificence of trhe crowd interaction alone. When the whole crowd begins to sing the song, you are haken with chills and covered with goosebumps…wondering why the hell you were not there.

**** out of 5

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