69 Black Celebration by Depeche Mode 1986
Now I'm pretty sure this isnt going to be on anyone else's list
It seems a bit ironic that one of the tinny synth bands that was meant to signal the death of rock by all the doom merchants (including strangely the musicians union) ended up as one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
Quite how they went from pretty boy synth sounds to stadium filling and out excessing the wildest rock groups is a bit of a mystery (Echo and the Bunnymen must still be scratching their heads) , or maybe not.
I love Depeche Mode in all their various guises except their most successful, when the guitars came in and the interest in grunge began they seemed to morph from something genuinely interesting into just another angst driven goth band (where their personal traumas became more interesting then the music they were making), albeit one that sold the kind of numbers that goth bands could only dream of.
Their best time is just before their tipping point. Violator is probably their best lp and their most successful, but the really interesting ones are when the combined their love of sampling with a slightly darker edge , when they were feeling their way to the giants they would become.
My favourite lp by them is Black Celebration. The lead off single stating with random piano chord and then a car exhaust is still one of the best things they have done (although not quite cracking the video thing yet)
The first 3 tracks merge one into another with the title track followed by Fly on the Windscreen (with the over somewhere sample buzzing in your head ). A track that still makes their live set today. This clip is from their self destruction days with Dave Gahan's voice a worryingly good advert for heroin addiction
We then get to Martin Gore's first vocal in Question of Lust. Never the strongest singer , it is the vulnerability that I like , you get the feeling the whole thing could come crashing down at any moment.
The other single released is a good old stomp along , a trick they would take further with the next lp although the sentiment is a tad dodgy to say the least
The real delights are hidden away in some of the lp tracks where the band really begin to flex their musical muscles with backing tracks full of surprises , whether the layered and complex or in the fragile beauty of Sometimes
Sex and death dominate as themes, although lyrics were never really what Depeche Mode were all about (they are guilty of some real clunkers)
I think the lp has such affection for me as the year it was released I went to poly and it stuck out against the jangly guitars and social realsim lyrics of the C86 bands I got into at Leeds. At the time still seen as a bit of a joke band, many a drunken night I'd defend them and play this lp in what I foolishly thought would be the ultimate argument winning gesture.
In a way the band have come full circle with the lst couple of lps going back to a more synth driven sound
and now for something completely different - there are a couple more charts doing the rounds. First up the Vinyl Villain is celebrating turning 50 by celebrating his 50 favourite lps.
Secondly Dirk at Sexy Loser is celebrating reaching 45 by celebrating his 45 favourite singles. He seems in a bit of doubt as to whether he will see it through but as he has made such a cracking start then maybe this will add a bit of pressure to keep going!