Music for the Masses
|Music for the Masses|
|Studio album by Depeche Mode|
|Released||28 September 1987|
|Recorded||February–July 1987; Studio Guillaume Tell (Paris); Konk (London)|
|Genre||Electronic, post-punk, synthpop|
|Producer||Depeche Mode, David Bascombe|
|Depeche Mode chronology|
|Singles from Music for the Masses|
Daniel Miller, who had produced Depeche Mode's previous album, voluntarily stepped away from production duties for this album, citing the growing tension in the studio that they had experienced during the recording of Black Celebration. With Miller's approval, the band used producer David Bascombe, who had just finished producing Peter Gabriel's album So (1986).
Band members Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore both claimed the album's title was conceived as a joke. Fletcher said, "The title's ... a bit tongue-in-cheek, really. Everyone is telling us we should make more commercial music, so that's the reason we chose that title." According to Gore, the title "was a joke on the uncommerciality of [the album]. It was anything but music for the masses!"
The megaphone (or its iconic representation) on the album's cover was used during the breadth of the album's release: at press events, on the covers of the album's singles, and during the tour. Alan Wilder gave credit to Martyn Atkins, who had been a longtime Depeche Mode collaborator, for the use of the megaphone. "[Martyn came] up with this idea of a speaker, but, to give the kind of ironic element which the title has, to put this speaker in a setting which wasn't really to do with the masses at all. It was, in fact, the opposite. So you end up with this kind of eerie thing where you get these speakers or megaphones in the middle of a setting that doesn't suit it at all, like a desert or whatever."
An early alternative cover was apparently considered but rejected for the album. The rejected cover was also designed by Martyn Atkins and a test pressing copy was auctioned off by Alan Wilder in 2011.
In 2006, Music for the Masses became one of the first Depeche Mode albums (along with Speak & Spell and Violator) to be released on a special 2-Disc SACD/CD Hybrid + DVD format, in the vein of their 2005 album Playing the Angel, which had a limited edition SACD + DVD release. The format was the same as Playing the Angel's, the first disc had a special digitally remastered version of the album, while the DVD had the album on three formats (PCM Stereo, 5.1 surround sound and DTS 5.1) plus bonus tracks, and a documentary on the album. The re-release preserves the album as it was originally intended. Thus, the four bonus tracks do not appear on the SACD, but appear on the DVD. The DVD also features all B-sides from the Music for the Masses era, but unlike the album and the bonus tracks, the B-sides are only available in PCM Stereo.
The documentary, a thirty-seven-minute short film called Depeche Mode: 1987–88 (Sometimes You Do Need Some New Jokes) is an extensive look at the album, featuring commentary from a wide variety of people, including the current Depeche Mode, former member Alan Wilder, producer Dave Bascombe, Daniel Miller, Daryl Bamonte, Martyn Atkins (who came up with the loudspeakers idea for the cover), Anton Corbijn, and others. The documentary features new facts on the album, and also an extensive look at the film 101.
The re-release was released on 3 April 2006 in Europe. The US version was delayed to 2 June 2006 and is only available on a CD + DVD format, with no SACD. The DVD on all the versions are region independent however, so one can simply import the SACD version without worrying about the DVD being incompatible. The remastered album was released on "deluxe" vinyl 2 March 2007 in Germany and 5 March 2007 internationally.
|The Austin Chronicle|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B+|
According to Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani, Music for the Masses showed the gloomier side of the "post-punk synthpop" scene during the 1980s and was a success with both music critics and consumers.
In a contemporary review for Playboy magazine, Robert Christgau complimented the abnormal road symbolism of the lyrics, particularly on "Little 15", and said that, apart from the sadomasochistic metaphors, Depeche Mode succeed in turning "adolescent Weltschmerz into something catchy, sexy and seemingly significant." NME magazine's Jane Solanas said that Gore is "at his obsessive best" on Music for the Masses, particularly on "Never Let Me Down Again", which she called "an intriguing masterpiece, combining homo-eroticism with drug euphoria." In a less enthusiastic review, Paul Mathur of Melody Maker was ambivalent towards the group's more mature, minimalist aesthetic and said that although they have departed from their simpler pop sound, the album is "seamless, fluid, and, once the lights are out, particulary dull."
In a retrospective review, Q magazine found the narratives on the album to be among Depeche Mode's most uncertain and contemplative, and that most of its songs "are real diamonds in the darkness ... this was the point at which Depeche Mode were first taken seriously." Music for the Masses was later included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Slant Magazine listed it at #75 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".
- "Never Let Me Down Again" – 4:47
- "The Things You Said" – 4:02
- "Strangelove" – 4:56
- "Sacred" – 4:47
- "Little 15" – 4:18
- "Behind the Wheel" – 5:18
- "I Want You Now" – 3:44
- "To Have and to Hold" – 2:51
- "Nothing" – 4:18
- "Pimpf" – 3:56 (5:25)
"Interlude #1 – Mission Impossible" (hidden instrumental track) – 0:37
- Bonus tracks on 1987 CD and cassette releases
- "Agent Orange" – 5:05
- "Never Let Me Down Again" (Aggro Mix) – 4:55
- "To Have and to Hold" (Spanish Taster) – 2:34
- "Pleasure, Little Treasure" (Glitter Mix) – 5:36
- On the CD, there is a 22-second pause in between "Pimpf" and "Interlude #1", followed by a 30-second pause in between "Interlude #1" and "Agent Orange".
- On the cassette, the four bonus tracks are on the B-side, with the rest of the tape without audio.
- Disc 1 is a hybrid SACD/CD with a multi-channel SACD layer.
- Disc 2 is a DVD containing Music for the Masses in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo plus bonus material
- "Never Let Me Down Again" – 4:47
- "The Things You Said" – 3:55
- "Strangelove" – 4:38
- "Sacred" – 5:01
- "Little 15" – 4:14
- "Behind the Wheel" – 5:17
- "I Want You Now" – 3:28
- "To Have and to Hold" – 3:08
- "Nothing" – 4:12
- "Pimpf" – 4:55
- Bonus tracks (in PCM Stereo)
- "Agent Orange" – 5:05
- "Pleasure, Little Treasure" – 2:53
- "Route 66" – 4:11
- "Stjarna" – 4:25
- "Sonata No.14 in C#m (Moonlight Sonata)" – 5:36
- Bonus 5.1 audio mixes (DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo)
- "Agent Orange" – 5:31
- "Never Let Me Down Again" (Aggro Mix) – 4:58
- "To Have And to Hold" (Spanish Taster) – 2:36
- "Pleasure, Little Treasure" (Glitter Mix) – 5:38
- Short film
- Depeche Mode 87–88 (Sometimes You Do Need Some New Jokes) – 37:02
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Music for the Masses.
- Depeche Mode – production
- Martyn Atkins – design, photography
- David Bascombe – engineering, production
- Mark Higenbottam – design, photography
- David Jones – design, photography
- Daniel Miller – additional production, help
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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- "Review: Music for the Masses". Q (London): 135. June 1995. "...has its dark, gloomy secrets and layered soundtrack grooves to support some of the groups' most self-conscious and self-questioning storylines ... Most of the songs ... are real diamonds in the darkness ... this was the point at which Depeche Mode were first taken seriously."
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- Rolling Stone Album Guide review
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