Speak & Spell (album)

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Speak & Spell
Studio album by Depeche Mode
Released 5 October 1981[1]
Length 44:58
Label Mute
Depeche Mode chronology
Speak & Spell
A Broken Frame
Singles from Speak & Spell
  1. "Dreaming of Me[4]"
    Released: 20 February 1981
  2. "New Life"
    Released: 29 May 1981
  3. "Just Can't Get Enough"
    Released: 7 September 1981

Speak & Spell is the debut album by the English electronic band Depeche Mode, recorded and released in 1981. The album peaked at number 10 in the UK Albums Chart.


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 Yazoo and later Erasure.

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, Gore and Fletcher both stated that the track "What's Your Name?" was their least favourite Depeche Mode song of all time.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[3]
The Austin Chronicle 2.5/5 stars[5]
Pitchfork Media 7.5/10[2]
Record Mirror 5/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[8]
The Village Voice C+[9]

Melody Maker praised the album, saying the singles "New Life" and "Just Can’t Get Enough" "sound as fresh and unflagging as every new number" of their time. Although reviewer Paul Colbert noted that there are a few songs like "Nodisco" that tend to "repeat earlier thoughts and feels", he praised "the gleefully untroubled surface" of "What’s Your Name", [...] "the moody whisper" of "Puppets" and the tautly sketched around octave-leaping bass lines and dark vocals of "Photographic".[10]

In a five star review, Record Mirror noted that the album is composed by "eight sparkling songs and one instrumental, much to admire and little to disappoint". Reviewer Sunie particularly praised the track "Photographic" and wrote: "Photographic" is "like [Gary] Numan at his best, but better; all the sinister phrases, both lyrical and musical, but with a rapid, danceable beat instead of the solemnity that Gazza always laid on with a sequinned trowel."[6]

In a less enthusiastic review for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau called the album catchy, one-dimensional nonsense that "crosses Meco (without the humble functionalism), Gary Numan (without the devotion to surface), and Kraftwerk (without the humor—oh, definitely without the humor)."[9] He did however favorably compare "New Life" to Brian Eno,[9] and named it the sixteenth best single of 1981 in his list for the annual Pazz & Jop critics poll.[11]

2006 re-release[edit]

The album was re-released on 3 April 2006 (along with Music for the Masses and Violator) as part of Mute's extensive Depeche Mode reissue schedule. This special edition release was a double disc set that included a Hybrid SACD/CD and a DVD. This format included the album in 5 formats - multi-channel SACD, stereo SACD, PCM stereo CD, DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1.

In the United States, the album was not re-released until 2 June 2006. The US version was only a CD rather than a SACD/CD Hybrid, though it still included the DVD which was identical to the European one (barring some different copyrights and logos).

The re-release somewhat preserves the album as it was originally intended. As such, while it is mostly the same as the British version, North America got a completely new version with some songs that have never been released there. For example, "New Life" was the original version, not a remix, and "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead" finally debuted (on a Depeche Mode release) in North America. However, "Dreaming of Me", the band's very first single which was not on the original album, was put at the end. The four bonus tracks on the original CD release in the UK, were omitted from the re-issued CD, but were on the DVD.

Also included was a 28-minute documentary about the making of the album entitled Depeche Mode: 1980–1981 (Do We Really Have To Give Up Our Day Jobs?) featuring interviews with the group (including Vince Clarke) and other relevant personnel such as Daniel Miller. There is various footage of the group's appearances on Top of the Pops including their very first appearance from 1981 performing "New Life". There is also vintage BBC footage of the Speak & Spell Tour from the same year.

The remastered album was released on "deluxe" vinyl in March 2007.

Track listing[edit]

For all versions, all songs were written by Vince Clarke, except for "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "Big Muff" written by Martin Gore. Dave Gahan performs lead vocals on all songs except "Any Second Now [Voices]" which is sung by Martin Gore. "Big Muff" and the original version of "Any Second Now" are instrumentals.

UK LP: Mute / Stumm5
No. Title Length
1. "New Life"   3:43
2. "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead"   2:14
3. "Puppets"   3:55
4. "Boys Say Go!"   3:03
5. "Nodisco"   4:11
6. "What's Your Name?"   2:41
7. "Photographic"   4:44
8. "Tora! Tora! Tora!"   4:34
9. "Big Muff"   4:20
10. "Any Second Now (Voices)"   2:35
11. "Just Can't Get Enough"   3:40
  • The song "Dreaming Of Me" replaces "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead" on the German LP and CD versions.
Bonus tracks on 1988 CD re-release: Mute / Cdstumm5
No. Title Length
12. "Dreaming of Me"   4:03
13. "Ice Machine"   4:05
14. "Shout"   3:46
15. "Any Second Now"   3:08
16. "Just Can't Get Enough (Schizo Mix)"   6:41
  • "Shout!" (from the b-side of the "New Life" single) is listed on the CD and all subsequent releases as "Shout", without the exclamation mark.
  • The versions of "Dreaming of Me" and "Ice Machine" included on this CD have cold ends like the original 7" single (as opposed to the fading-out versions on the original US album and CD single reissue).

US LP/CD[edit]

  1. "New Life" [Remix] – 3:56
  2. "Puppets" – 3:57
  3. "Dreaming of Me" – 3:42
  4. "Boys Say Go!" – 3:04
  5. "Nodisco" – 4:13
  6. "What's Your Name?" – 2:41
  7. "Photographic" – 4:58
  8. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" – 4:24
  9. "Big Muff" – 4:21
  10. "Any Second Now (Voices)" – 2:33
  11. "Just Can't Get Enough" [Schizo Mix] – 6:41

2006 re-release[edit]


  • Disc 1 is a hybrid SACD/CD with a multi-channel SACD layer.
  • Disc 2 is a DVD which includes Speak & Spell in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo plus bonus material.
  1. "New Life" – 3:46
  2. "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead" – 2:18
  3. "Puppets" – 3:58
  4. "Boys Say Go!" – 3:07
  5. "Nodisco" – 4:15
  6. "What's Your Name?" – 2:45
  7. "Photographic" – 4:44
  8. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" – 4:37
  9. "Big Muff" – 4:24
  10. "Any Second Now (Voices)" – 2:35
  11. "Just Can't Get Enough" – 3:44
  12. "Dreaming of Me" – 4:03

Bonus tracks[edit]

In DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM Stereo:

  1. "Ice Machine"
  2. "Shout!"
  3. "Any Second Now"
  4. "Just Can't Get Enough (Schizo Mix)"

Additional material[edit]

  1. "Depeche Mode 80-81 (Do We Really Have To Give Up Our Day Jobs?)" (28 Minute documentary video)

Charts and certifications[edit]


Depeche Mode


  1. ^ "Depeche Mode: The Archives". Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  2. ^ a b Abebe, Nitsuh (20 July 2006). "Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell / Music for the Masses / Violator". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Raggett, Ned. "Speak & Spell – Depeche Mode". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  4. ^ The first of six Depeche Mode singles not to be included on an album release, although it did appear on the original US release of Speak & Spell, in place of "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead". It was included on later editions of the album (as a bonus track) and on The Singles 81-85, along with the "Some Bizzare" version of "Photographic".
  5. ^ Gray, Christopher (25 August 2006). "Review: Speak & Spell, Music for the Masses, Violator, The Top, The Head on the Door, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Psychocandy, Darklands, Automatic, Honey's Dead, Stoned & Dethroned". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Sunie (7 November 1981). "Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell". Record Mirror. 
  7. ^ Fricke, David (13 May 1982). "Speak & Spell". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 229–30. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  9. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (9 March 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Colbert, Paul (31 October 1981). Talking Hook Lines [Speak & Spell - review]. Melody Maker. 
  11. ^ "Pazz & Jop 1981: Dean's List". The Village Voice. New York. 1 February 1982. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Suchergebnis". Charts-Surfer.de. Retrieved 24 February 2009. Note: User must define 'neuer suchbegriff' search parameter as "Depeche Mode".
  13. ^ "Discography Depeche Mode". SwedishCharts.com. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  14. ^ "Depeche Mode | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved 7 Sep 2013.
  15. ^ "Depeche Mode > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  16. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Depeche Mode; 'Speak and Spell')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  17. ^ "British album certifications – Depeche Mode – Speak and Spell". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Speak and Spell in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search


External links[edit]