Ultra (Depeche Mode album)

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Ultra
Depeche Mode - Ultra.png
Studio album by
Released14 April 1997 (1997-04-14)
RecordedJanuary 1996 – February 1997
Studio
Length60:04
LabelMute
ProducerTim Simenon
Depeche Mode chronology
Songs of Faith and Devotion
(1993)
Ultra
(1997)
Exciter
(2001)
Singles from Ultra
  1. "Barrel of a Gun"
    Released: 3 February 1997
  2. "It's No Good"
    Released: 31 March 1997
  3. "Home"
    Released: 16 June 1997
  4. "Useless"
    Released: 20 October 1997
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[3]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[4]
Los Angeles Times2.5/4 stars[5]
NME6/10[6]
Q4/5 stars[7]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[9]
Spin6/10[10]

Ultra is the ninth studio album by English electronic music band Depeche Mode. It was released on 14 April 1997 by Mute Records. It was the band's first album following the departure of Alan Wilder, who had become disillusioned with life in the band. Wilder's departure and lead singer Dave Gahan's drug problems, which culminated in a near-fatal overdose, had caused speculation that Depeche Mode was finished.[11] Ultra was the first album the band recorded as a trio since A Broken Frame (1982); it was also their first where the band members were not involved with production.

The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and at number five on the US Billboard 200. By 2006, it had sold 584,000 copies in the United States.[12] In 1999, Ned Raggett ranked the album at number 50 on his list of the "Top 136 or So Albums of the Nineties".[13] That same year, the annual Ultra Music Festival in Miami was named after the album by its co-founder Russell Faibisch,[14] and acknowledging its influence on the Polish rock scene, Tylko Rock ranked it at number 71 on its list of the "100 Albums That Shook Polish Rock".[15]

Background and composition[edit]

Lyrically, much of the album was inspired by the turmoil the band had faced throughout the 1990s. Gore said that the opening track "Barrel of a Gun" is about realizing that you do not have to fit someone else's view of the world.[16]

Musically, the band explored many sounds within the realms of alternative rock but with a much more dark, smooth, and electronic feel. The band also felt that they wanted to do something different since Alan Wilder had left the band. "Barrel of a Gun" did not change much from its original demo and is one of the most aggressive tracks on the album.

On 2 October 2007 (3 October in North America), Ultra was re-released as a two-disc set, along with Exciter, completing the Depeche Mode collector's edition catalog. The first disc is a remastered version of the original album, on a SACD/CD hybrid (except in the United States, where it is a CD only). The second disc is a DVD which features the album in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo. The B-sides from the album's singles can be listened to as well, including the standalone single "Only When I Lose Myself" and its B-sides. Like the other albums, there is a documentary on the making of Ultra titled Depeche Mode 95–98 (Oh Well, That's the End of the Band...), the subtitle of which comes from Gore's thoughts about Wilder's departure. The documentary begins with discussion from all parties of Wilder's departure before moving on to early album sessions despite Dave Gahan's drug issues present. Eventually, it moves on to Gahan's "death" and rehab. The documentary then covers the recording of Ultra and ends with a discussion on The Singles 86>98 and its corresponding singles tour. The whole band is interviewed, along with Alan Wilder, Daniel Miller, producer Tim Simenon, Mute executives, touring keyboardist Peter Gordeno, touring drummer Christian Eigner, Anton Corbijn and others. The remastered version of the album was released on vinyl 30 March 2007 in Germany and 1 October 2007 internationally.

Reception[edit]

Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune stated, "Depeche Mode's core members, songwriter Martin Gore and singer Dave Gahan, are the Mopey and Dopey of self-indulgent synth-pop, but they keep the more embarrassing melodrama to a minimum on "Ultra," which ranks with their best work... this veteran British combo has made a disc that should please their millions of followers and provide a few guilty pleasures for the rest of us."[3] Jim Farder in his review for Entertainment Weekly commented, "Ultra, their first work in four years, combines up-to-the-second synth effects (courtesy of producer Tim ”Bomb the Bass” Simenon) with rippling melodies — all supported by the grim sonic architecture that long ago made DM the darlings of many a sour teen. Imposing spires of synths, industrial rivets of percussion, churchy organs, and grave vocals erect an edifice of reverent dread."[4] Elysa Gardner of Rolling Stone added, "With 1990’s Violator and particularly 1993’s Songs of Faith and Devotion, the prior decade’s most arena-friendly techno-pop outfit began relying more on real instruments — guitars, primarily — to lend emotional urgency to its stark, computer-generated anthems."[8] NME's James Oldham observed, "This album is at least partly the product of one of the most harrowing rock'n'roll sagas in recent memory. It's the tale of an unassuming quartet transformed into a colossal financial machine designed to bring gravitas to the masses: four cherubs from Basildon who were lauded as deities in America—only to discover they couldn't handle it... There is no dramatic reinvention, and as such we're left with an album that's every bit as flawed as its predecessors."[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Martin L. Gore.

No.TitleLength
1."Barrel of a Gun"5:35
2."The Love Thieves"6:34
3."Home"5:42
4."It's No Good"5:58
5."Uselink"2:21
6."Useless"5:12
7."Sister of Night"6:04
8."Jazz Thieves"2:54
9."Freestate"6:44
10."The Bottom Line"4:26
11."Insight" (includes a hidden track "Junior Painkiller", starting at 6:27)8:37
Total length:60:04

2006 Collectors Edition CD + DVD[edit]

  • Disc one is a hybrid SACD/CD with a multi-channel SACD layer.
  • Disc two is a DVD which includes "Ultra" in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo plus the following bonus material:

Live tracks in London, April 1997 (in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM Stereo)

  1. "Barrel of a Gun"
  2. "It's No Good"
  3. "Useless"

Bonus tracks (in PCM Stereo)

  1. "Painkiller"
  2. "Slowblow"
  3. "Only When I Lose Myself"
  4. "Surrender"
  5. "Headstar"

Additional material

  • Depeche Mode 95–98 (Oh Well, That's the End of the Band...) (50-minute documentary)

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Ultra.[17]

Depeche Mode[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Technical[edit]

  • Tim Simenon – production, mixing
  • Q – mixing, engineering
  • Paul Hicks – engineering assistance
  • Guy Massey – engineering assistance
  • Lee Fitzgerald – engineering assistance
  • Tom Rixton – engineering assistance
  • Gary Forde – engineering assistance
  • Lee Phillips – engineering assistance
  • Jamie Campbell – engineering assistance
  • Jim – engineering assistance
  • Greg – engineering assistance
  • Audie Chamberlain – engineering assistance
  • Robbie Kazandjian – engineering assistance
  • Mike Marsh – mastering
  • Evelyn Halus – vocal coach
  • Gareth Jones – mixing (tracks 5, 8); additional vocals engineering (tracks 2, 3, 9)

Artwork[edit]

  • Anton Corbijn – art direction, photography, front cover
  • Brian Dowling – colour prints
  • Area – sleeve design

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Belgium (BEA)[47] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[48] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[49] Gold 250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[50] Platinum 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[51] Gold 50,000^
Sweden (GLF)[52] Gold 40,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[53] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[55] Gold 584,000[12]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[56] Platinum 1,000,000*
Worldwide 4,000,000[57]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Ultra - Depeche Mode | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  2. ^ "Depeche Mode, "Ultra" (Mute/Reprise)". Chicago Sun-Times. 13 April 1997.
  3. ^ a b Kot, Greg (18 April 1997). "DEPECHE MODE". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  4. ^ a b Farber, Jim (18 April 1997). "Ultra". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  5. ^ Scribner, sara (13 April 1997). "That Same Gloom and Doom Mode". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  6. ^ a b Oldham, James. "Depeche Mode: Ultra". NME. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  7. ^ Malins, Steve (May 1997). "Ultra". Q. London: Bauer Media Group (128): 118. ISSN 0955-4955.
  8. ^ a b Gardner, Elysa (10 April 1997). "Ultra". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  9. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Depeche Mode". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 229–30. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  10. ^ Weisbard, Eric (May 1997). "Records". Spin. SPIN Media LLC: 110-111. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  11. ^ "Especial Depeche Mode: Ultra" (in Spanish). Hipersonica. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  12. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (5 April 2006). "Ask Billboard: New Depeche Order Mode". Billboard.
  13. ^ Breathe internet Archived 20 January 2000 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Duran, Jose D. (14 March 2013). "How Russell Faibisch Built Ultra Music Festival – and Whom He's Battled Along the Way". Miami New Times.
  15. ^ Acclaimed Music - Ultra
  16. ^ "Barrel of a Gun".
  17. ^ Ultra (liner notes). Depeche Mode. Mute Records. 1997. CDSTUMM148.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  18. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Depeche Mode – Ultra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Depeche Mode – Ultra" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – Depeche Mode – Ultra" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Depeche Mode – Ultra" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  22. ^ "Depeche Mode Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  23. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 14 no. 18. 3 May 1997. p. 22. OCLC 29800226 – via American Radio History.
  24. ^ a b c "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 109 no. 19. 10 May 1997. p. 49. ISSN 0006-2510.
  25. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Depeche Mode – Ultra" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  26. ^ a b c "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 109 no. 18. 3 May 1997. pp. 48–49. ISSN 0006-2510.
  27. ^ "Depeche Mode: Ultra" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  28. ^ "Lescharts.com – Depeche Mode – Ultra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  29. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Depeche Mode – Ultra" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  30. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 14 no. 19. 10 May 1997. p. 18. OCLC 29800226 – via American Radio History.
  31. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 1997. 17. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  32. ^ "Tónlist". DV (in Icelandic). 87 (98). 2 May 1997. p. 22. ISSN 1021-8254 – via Timarit.is.
  33. ^ デペッシュ・モードのアルバム売り上げランキング [Depeche Mode album sales ranking] (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  34. ^ "Charts.nz – Depeche Mode – Ultra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  35. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Depeche Mode – Ultra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  36. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  37. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Depeche Mode – Ultra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  38. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Depeche Mode – Ultra". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  39. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  40. ^ "Depeche Mode Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  41. ^ "Jahreshitparade Alben 1997". austriancharts.at (in German). Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  42. ^ "Rapports Annuels 1997 – Albums" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  43. ^ "Year in Focus – European Top 100 Albums 1997" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 14 no. 52. 27 December 1997. p. 7. OCLC 29800226 – via American Radio History.
  44. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 1997" (in German). Offizielle Deutsche Charts. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  45. ^ "Årslista Album (inkl samlingar) – År 1997" (in Swedish). Hitlistan. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  46. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1997". Billboard. Archived from the original on 10 December 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  47. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – albums 1997". Ultratop. Hung Medien. 30 May 1997.
  48. ^ "French album certifications – Depeche Mode – Ultra" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 24 June 1997.
  49. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Depeche Mode; 'Ultra')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  50. ^ "Depeche Mode - Artisti vari - ULTRA - CD - 1998/1998".
  51. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 944. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  52. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 9 April 1997.
  53. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Depeche Mode; 'Ultra')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  54. ^ "British album certifications – Depeche Mode – Ultra". British Phonographic Industry. 1 April 1997.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Ultra in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  55. ^ "American album certifications – Depeche Mode – Ultra". Recording Industry Association of America. 7 August 1997. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  56. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1998". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  57. ^ Howorth, Adam (19 May 2001). "Depeche's new modus operandi" (PDF). Music & Media.

External links[edit]