Violator (album)

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Violator
Depeche Mode - Violator.png
Studio album by
Released19 March 1990 (1990-03-19)
RecordedMay 1989 – January 1990
Genre
Length47:02
LabelMute
Producer
Depeche Mode chronology
101
(1989)
Violator
(1990)
Songs of Faith and Devotion
(1993)
Singles from Violator
  1. "Personal Jesus"
    Released: 28 August 1989
  2. "Enjoy the Silence"
    Released: 16 January 1990
  3. "Policy of Truth"
    Released: 7 May 1990
  4. "World in My Eyes"
    Released: 17 September 1990

Violator is the seventh studio album by English electronic music band Depeche Mode. It was released on 19 March 1990 by Mute Records. Preceded by the singles "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence" (a top-10 entry in both the United Kingdom and the United States), Violator propelled the band into international stardom. The album yielded two further commercially successful singles, "Policy of Truth" and "World in My Eyes".

Violator reached number two on the UK Albums Chart, and is the band's first album to chart inside the top 10 of the Billboard 200, peaking at number seven. The album was supported by the World Violation Tour.

Background and development[edit]

Compared to previous efforts, the band decided to try a new approach to recording. Alan Wilder said, "Usually we begin the making of a record by having extensive pre-production meetings where we decide what the record will actually sound like, then go into a programming studio. This time we decided to keep all pre-production work to a minimum. We were beginning to have a problem with boredom in that we felt we'd reached a certain level of achievement in doing things a certain way." Martin Gore elaborated, "Over the last five years I think we'd perfected a formula; my demos, a month in a programming studio, etc. etc. We decided that our first record of the '90s ought to be different."[6]

With co-producer Mark "Flood" Ellis, Wilder began a complementary working relationship, with Flood able to provide the technical know-how and Wilder working on the arrangements and song textures. "That's how we made the group work at that time", clarified Wilder, "by accepting that we all had different roles and not actually all trying to do the same thing. So we ended up with this unwritten agreement in the band, where we'd all throw together a few ideas at the beginning of a track. Then Fletch and Mart would go away, and they'd come back after we'd worked on it for a while to give an opinion."[7]

There was also a notable change in Gore's demos. After the rigid, limiting effects of almost-finished demos for Music for the Masses, Gore, agreeing to Wilder's request, kept them less complete this time around. Several of the basic recordings consisted of vocals over a simple guitar or organ part, with the odd percussion loop, but less sequenced material. The sparse demos allowed the band to take creative liberties with the songs. For instance, "Enjoy the Silence" started out as a slow ballad, but at Wilder's suggestion became a pulsating, up-tempo track.[8]

The band convened to work on the record with Flood at Mute's WorldWide programming room in London for three weeks after which they flew to Milan for the new sessions at Logic studios. According to Flood, they didn't do a substantial amount of work in Milan, except for the song "Personal Jesus", which was crucial in setting the tone and spirit of the album. "Everybody was feeling each other out, because they wanted to try working in a different way. The idea was to work hard and party hard and we all enjoyed ourselves to the full." After Milan the band relocated to Puk studios in northern Denmark, where most of the album was recorded.[9]

Martin called the track "World in My Eyes" a very positive song. "It's saying that love and sex and pleasure are positive things."[6] The song "Blue Dress", which Gore called "pervy", is simply about "watching a girl dress and realising that this is 'what makes the world turn.'"[6] With "Halo", Gore said, "I'm saying 'let's give in to this' but there's also a real feeling of wrongfulness [...] I suppose my songs do seem to advocate immorality but if you listen there's always a sense of guilt."[6] The closing track, "Clean", was inspired by Pink Floyd's song "One of These Days", from their 1971 album Meddle. Said Wilder, "they [Pink Floyd] were doing something very different to anyone else at that time – you can hear electronics in there, and the influence of classical music. It's got a very repetitive, synthesised sound, and the bass riffs with the echo have a very hypnotic groove that underpins it. We basically nicked that idea [for 'Clean']".[10]

Regarding the album's title, Martin said, "We called it Violator as a joke. We wanted to come up with the most extreme, ridiculously Heavy Metal title that we could. I'll be surprised if people will get the joke."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[11]
Christgau's Consumer GuideC−[12]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[13]
The Guardian5/5 stars[14]
NME8/10[15]
Pitchfork7.9/10[16]
Q4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone4.5/5 stars[18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[19]
Spin4/5 stars[20]

In a contemporary review for Melody Maker, music critic Paul Lester called Violator the group's "most arresting work to date."[21] Tim Nicholson of Record Mirror was enthused by the stripped-down quality of the songs and called the album a "compromise between pop music and something a little more sinister. There are no noises out of place in this perfectly formed void".[22] Ian Cranna of Q magazine found the music subtly clever and called it "a fine record which may not set the world on fire but deserves to singe it a bit."[17] NME writer Helen Mead felt that the album "seems almost a step back, in that it's cleaner, sparser, more clinical" than Music for the Masses, but concluded that "there is security in the knowledge that everything is very clear cut in Depeche Mode's blue and white world."[15] In a less enthusiastic review, Robert Christgau said that Depeche Mode conceded to fickle teenage demographics on Violator.[12] Rolling Stone magazine's Chuck Eddy said that, despite its "ambient charm", Gahan sounds "slimy and self-involved", and in their attempt to make listeners dance, Depeche Mode "revert to morose pop psychology and then never tell you how come they're so sad."[23] Entertainment Weekly's Greg Sandow felt that the album's varied music can "cast shadows, the significance of which can be hard to figure out".[13]

In 2003, Violator was ranked number 342 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and number 57 on the magazine's 100 Best Albums of the Nineties list.[24] It has also featured on lists of the greatest albums of all time made by publications such as Q and Spin.[25][26] In a retrospective review, The Austin Chronicle's Christopher Gray cited Violator as Depeche Mode's "career peak",[27] while The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey called it the band's best album, "encasing Martin Gore's favourite tropes – guilt, salvation, obsession and the virtues of keeping your mouth shut – in production as black and shiny as a beetle's shell."[14] Rolling Stone complimented its "heavier hooks, cinematic arrangements and sleek sonic detail".[18] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called the album "a quintessential benchmark of pop, rock and electronic music."[5] It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[28]

Commercial performance[edit]

As a sign of their rising popularity when Violator was released, a signing party for fans at a Wherehouse record store in Los Angeles that was expected to draw only a few thousand fans ended up drawing around 17,000. The band were forced to withdraw from the event due to security concerns, and their early exit nearly caused a riot.[29] Violator reached number 17 on the Billboard 200 year-end chart of 1990,[30] and was the first Depeche Mode album to sell a million copies in the United States.[29]

The success of Violator introduced the band to a wider audience, and this increased exposure led to their 1993 follow-up album Songs of Faith and Devotion debuting atop the charts in both the United States and United Kingdom.[31] "Before this, we'd been going along quite nicely," recalled Andy Fletcher. "Then when it came to Violator we inexplicably went huge. It was just incredible, and in many ways we never really recovered from that. After that, we just felt like we wanted to muck it up a bit."[32]

2006 re-release[edit]

As part of Mute's 2006 reissue schedule, Violator was re-released as a hybrid Super Audio CD + DVD-Video package on 3 April 2006 which included two-channel and 5.1 surround mixes of the album. The six B-sides to the Violator singles—"Dangerous", "Memphisto", "Sibeling", "Kaleid", "Happiest Girl", and "Sea of Sin"—also appear, albeit without the surround sound treatment. The reissue didn't reach the US till 6 June 2006. The US version lacked the hybrid SACD and instead just had a CD, but the DVD was included, and was identical to the European DVD but in NTSC format instead of PAL. The lack of SACD is due to the titles being distributed in North America by Warner, who do not support the SACD format.

A 32-minute short film entitled Depeche Mode 1989–90 (If You Wanna Use Guitars, Use Guitars) and featured interviews with the band, Daniel Miller, Flood, François Kevorkian (who mixed the album), Anton Corbijn (who directed the music videos and did the album's photography/cover), and others. It also includes news footage from the infamous "riot" in Los Angeles which gave the band media publicity the day before Violator came out. The band were scheduled to do autographs in an LA music store, and the line reached into the 20,000's. The event had to be cancelled shortly after it began due to problems keeping the line in order. There is also footage from Strange Too, notably clips from the music videos for "Halo" and "Clean".

The remastered album was released on "deluxe" vinyl on 2 March 2007 in Germany and on 5 March 2007 internationally.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Martin L. Gore.

No.TitleLength
1."World in My Eyes"4:26
2."Sweetest Perfection"4:43
3."Personal Jesus"4:56
4."Halo"4:30
5."Waiting for the Night"6:07
6."Enjoy the Silence"6:12
7."Policy of Truth"4:55
8."Blue Dress"5:41
9."Clean"5:32
Total length:47:02

Notes

  • "Enjoy the Silence" includes the hidden track "Interlude #2 (Crucified)" starting at 4:21.[33]
  • "Blue Dress" includes the hidden track "Interlude #3" starting at 4:18.[33]
  • According to the band's website, the original title for "Waiting for the Night" was "Waiting for the Night to Fall" and the rest of the title was omitted due to a printing error.[34]
  • Both the original US and the original UK vinyl editions have a shorter version of "Personal Jesus".[33]

2006 collector's edition[edit]

  • Disc one is a hybrid SACD/CD with a multi-channel SACD layer, with the same track listing as the 1990 release. Bonus tracks are in PCM Stereo (48 kHz/16bit).
  • Disc two is a DVD which includes the documentary Depeche Mode 1989–90 (If You Wanna Use Guitars, Use Guitars), Violator in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo (48 kHz/24bit) plus the following bonus tracks:
  1. "Dangerous" – 4:22
  2. "Memphisto" – 4:03
  3. "Sibeling" – 3:18
  4. "Kaleid" – 4:18
  5. "Happiest Girl" (Jack Mix) – 4:58
  6. "Sea of Sin" (Tonal Mix) – 4:46

Japanese limited edition[edit]

This is the rare first Japanese pressing of Depeche Mode's Violator double-disc set. It comes in a thick double CD jewel case with the twelve-page lyric inlay booklet, sixteen-page Japanese insert, "Enjoy the Silence" insert and forty-page 1991 picture calendar. The second edition double CD was fixed and included "Enjoy the Silence" (Hands and Feet Mix) instead of the edited Ecstatic Dub Mix.

Disc two

  1. "Enjoy the Silence" (Single Version) – 4:17
  2. "Enjoy the Silence" (Ecstatic Dub) – 5:54
  3. "Enjoy the Silence" (Ecstatic Dub Edit) – 5:45
  4. "Sibeling" (Single Version) – 3:13
  5. "Enjoy the Silence" (Bass Line) – 7:42
  6. "Enjoy the Silence" (Harmonium) – 2:42
  7. "Enjoy the Silence" (Ricki Tik Tik Mix) – 5:28
  8. "Memphisto" (Single Version) – 4:01

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Violator.[1]

  • Depeche Mode – production
  • Area – sleeve
  • Daryl Bamonte – engineering assistance
  • David Browne – engineering assistance
  • Anton Corbijn – sleeve
  • Mark Flannery – engineering assistance
  • Flood – production (all tracks); mixing ("Enjoy the Silence")
  • Alan Gregorie – engineering
  • Goh Hotoda – engineering
  • Peter Iversen – engineering
  • François Kevorkian – mixing (all tracks except "Enjoy the Silence")
  • Phil Legg – engineering
  • Steve Lyon – engineering
  • Dick Meaney – engineering assistance
  • Daniel Miller – mixing ("Enjoy the Silence")
  • Dennis Mitchell – engineering
  • Pino Pischetola – engineering

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[62] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[63] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[64] Platinum 300,000*
Germany (BVMI)[65] Platinum 500,000^
Italy (FIMI)[66] Gold 50,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[67] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[68] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[69] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[70] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[71] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

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

References[edit]

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  4. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (21 March 2007). "Vs.: Depeche Mode vs. The Cure". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 February 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
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  6. ^ a b c d e Maconie, Stuart (17 February 1990). "Sin Machine". NME. pp. 34–35. ISSN 0028-6362. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2011 – via Sacred DM.
  7. ^ Malins 2001, p. 143
  8. ^ Malins 2001, p. 143–144
  9. ^ Malins 2001, p. 144–145
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  70. ^ "British album certifications – Depeche Mode – Violator". British Phonographic Industry. 21 March 1990. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Violator in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  71. ^ "American album certifications – Depeche Mode – Violator". Recording Industry Association of America. 1 May 1996. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

Bibliography

External links[edit]