Playing the Angel

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Playing the Angel
Studio album by Depeche Mode
Released 17 October 2005 (2005-10-17)
Recorded January–July 2005; Sound Design (Santa Barbara, California); Stratosphere Sound (New York City; Whitfield Studios (London)
Genre Synthpop, alternative dance, industrial rock, alternative rock
Length 52:16
Label Mute
Producer Ben Hillier
Depeche Mode chronology
Exciter
(2001)
Playing the Angel
(2005)
Sounds of the Universe
(2009)
Singles from Playing the Angel
  1. "Precious"
    Released: 3 October 2005 (2005-10-03)
  2. "A Pain That I'm Used To"
    Released: 9 December 2005 (2005-12-09)
  3. "Suffer Well"
    Released: 20 March 2006 (2006-03-20)
  4. "John the Revelator / Lilian"
    Released: 4 June 2006 (2006-06-04)

Playing the Angel is the eleventh studio album by English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released in the United Kingdom on 17 October 2005 by Mute Records and in the United States and Canada on 18 October by Sire Records and Reprise Records. It was supported by the Touring the Angel tour.

Overview[edit]

Playing the Angel is Depeche Mode's first album to feature Dave Gahan as co-writer.[1] He wrote the lyrics to "Suffer Well", "I Want It All" and "Nothing's Impossible", while Christian Eigner and Andrew Phillpott wrote the music. Gahan is the lead singer on all songs except for the instrumental "Introspectre", and Martin Gore-sung tracks "Macro" and "Damaged People". Gahan also sings backing vocals on "Macro", which was the first time he had sung backing on one of Gore's songs since Violator '​s "Sweetest Perfection".

The title Playing the Angel is taken from a lyric in the closing song "The Darkest Star". It is the fourth Depeche Mode album to get its name from a lyric in its album, the other three being Construction Time Again, Some Great Reward and Black Celebration.

The album has been called a more organic record for using more analog synths than digital ones. In addition, most of the soundscapes presented are harsher and groovier than the more mellow Exciter.

In mid-July 2005, the unfinished video for "Precious" was leaked online. It is believed to have been leaked through the website of the production team that helped make the video.

Tracks recorded during the Playing the Angel sessions that did not make the album include "Martyr", which was originally planned to be the lead single but was eventually deemed too poppy for the album and saved for The Best of Depeche Mode Volume 1. Other songs include "Free", which ended up on the "Precious" single and the Japanese version of Playing the Angel.

The album was released as a Copy Controlled CD and a deluxe SACD/DVD version (CD/DVD version in the United States) which includes the album on hybrid multi-channel SACD as the main disc and a bonus DVD featuring an exclusive studio performance of "Clean" (from Violator), the video for "Precious", a photo gallery and a 5.1 mix of the album. There is also a documentary on the making of the album. All ten of the earlier Depeche Mode albums were re-released in similar format to Playing the Angel, a CD/SACD hybrid (in the US simply a remastered CD) with a DVD featuring a 5.1 mix of each album and a documentary, though Playing the Angel's documentary is far less extensive and also shorter than the classic ones.

The iTunes deluxe edition of the album has several bonuses, including another "bare" version of a Violator track, "Waiting for the Night", and the music video for "Precious". People who placed the album on pre-order were eligible to participate in a ticket pre-sale for most Touring the Angel concerts, the first time such an offer was made by iTunes and Ticketmaster.

Album art[edit]

The character on the album cover is a little creature called "Tubby Goth" (by the band) and "Mister Feathers" (by the label, the webmaster and the fans). The cover design by Anton Corbijn is believed to be a tip of the hat to a famous still photograph of The Cure's Robert Smith circa "Boys Don't Cry".

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Blender 2/5 stars[3]
Entertainment Weekly B[4]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[5]
Pitchfork Media 7.0/10[6]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[7]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5[8]
Stylus Magazine A−[9]
The Times 4/5 stars[10]
Yahoo! Music UK 7/10 stars[11]

Playing the Angel received mostly positive reviews. E! Online and Entertainment Weekly gave the album high scores. Indie music website Pitchfork Media gave the album a positive review but criticized its lack of innovation. However, there are some negative reviews; Rolling Stone magazine rated the album two-and-a-half stars out of five, lower than the score received by Exciter.

The album was ranked number twenty on E! Online's Top 20 Albums of 2005 list and number sixty-eight on WOXY's Top 97 Albums of 2005.

The red book version of the album is considered by numerous fans to be poorly mastered,[12][13] relying on heavy compression to intentionally and artificially boost the output, especially when compared with the vinyl version that was mastered differently.

Commercial performance[edit]

Playing the Angel debuted at number six on the UK Albums Chart, selling 32,505 copies in its first week.[14] In the United States, the album debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 98,000 copies.[15] Both peak chart positions are improvements on the band's previous album, Exciter, which charted at number nine and eight, respectively, although Exciter attained larger US first-week sales of 115,000 units.[15] Playing the Angel had sold 418,000 copies in the US as of November 2007.[16] By January 2007, the album had sold 1.6 million copies worldwide (excluding the US and Canada), according to EMI.[17]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Martin Gore, except where noted.

  1. "A Pain That I'm Used To" – 4:11
  2. "John the Revelator" – 3:42
  3. "Suffer Well" (Dave Gahan, Christian Eigner, Andrew Phillpott) – 3:49
  4. "The Sinner in Me" – 4:56
  5. "Precious" – 4:10
  6. "Macro" – 4:03
  7. "I Want It All" (Gahan, Eigner, Phillpott) – 6:09
  8. "Nothing's Impossible" (Gahan, Eigner, Phillpott) – 4:21
  9. "Introspectre" – 1:42
  10. "Damaged People" – 3:29
  11. "Lilian" – 4:49
  12. "The Darkest Star" – 6:55

Bonus tracks[edit]

  • "Free" – 5:11 (on the Japanese version of the album)
  • "Clean (Bare)" – 3:44 (on the DVD version of the album)
  • "Waiting for the Night (Bare)" (iTunes pre-order bonus track)

Limited edition bonus DVD[edit]

  1. Playing the Angel in 5.1 and Stereo -DTS 5.1 (24bit) -Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (24bit)-PCM Stereo (24bit)
  2. Making the Angel – PCM Stereo
  3. "Precious" (Video) – PCM Stereo
  4. "Clean (Bare)" – PCM Stereo
  5. Photo gallery – candid studio photos taken by Ben Hillier at the Santa Barbara/New York/London recording sessions

UMD bonus content[edit]

  1. Making the Angel – A Short Film
  2. "Precious" (Video)
  3. "Clean (Bare)"
  4. Photo gallery

Personnel[edit]

Credits for adapted from the liner notes of Playing the Angel.[18]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[62] Gold 20,000x
Austria (IFPI Austria)[63] Gold 15,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[64] Gold 50,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[65] Gold 20,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[66] Gold 16,777[66]
France (SNEP)[67] Platinum 212,900[68]
Germany (BVMI)[69] 2× Platinum 400,000^
Hungary (MAHASZ)[70] Platinum 20,000x
Mexico (AMPROFON)[35] Gold 50,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[71] Platinum 20,000*
Portugal (AFP)[72] Gold 10,000x
Russia (NFPF)[73] 3× Platinum 60,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[74] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[75] Gold 30,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[76] Gold 100,000^
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[77] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Kellman, Andy. Playing the Angel at AllMusic. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
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  5. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (14 October 2005). "Pop CD Depeche Mode, Playing The Angel". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Abebe, Mitsuh (19 October 2005). "Depeche Mode: Playing The Angel". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
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  9. ^ Parrish, Peter (15 November 2005). "Depeche Mode, Playing The Angel Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
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  15. ^ a b Whitmire, Margo (26 October 2005). "Simpson Strikes Back: Ashlee Scores 2nd No. 1". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 
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