This has some pretty popular songs from their eary years, but I like "The Singles 86>98" better. There are some pretty popular songs on this CD: such as; "Everything counts", and "I just can't get enough".
There are some great songs on this CD, but the band's early stuff was pretty shallow and simplistic, so you have to take the good with the bad here. It is interesting to hear the change in their music as they grew and developed that unique style that has made them one of the most popular and long-lived musical groups from the '80s. So take the first 4 or 5 songs for what they are worth, as there's lots of great stuff that follows quickly, and "everything counts in large amounts", right? The double "Singles" CD of songs from several years after this time period is even better, but I am glad I have both.
The beginning of Mode's years was kind of interesting. The periods done in each of these tracks are all notable. There's the Vince Clarke stuff, when Gore took the lead songwriting role, and the time Alan Wilder stepped in. Also interesting is the liner notes, which contain one negative and one positive review for each (well, almost) of the singles. There are some classics here: "Everything Counts" is still one of DM's greatest songs, a beautiful, yet moving track.
"People Are People" was made to be a hit, and even broke them through stateside. In spite what the band may say, it's a wonderful track. "New Life" and "Just Can't Get Enough" are as well, and you get a short introduction to Gore's dark lyrics in "Master and Servant" and "Blasphemous Rumors." Also, a track like "Love, In Itself" shows the group making some pretty unique tracks. Even nearly 25 years later, it sounds like nothing else. I like the samples used on there. Also, the version of "Photographic" here is, in my opinion, even better than the version on "Speak & Spell." You even get a preview at the beginning of tracks with Martin Gore in lead vocals ("Somebody"), although not many singles after would feature him. It's worth owning to hear the two non-album tracks, "Shake the Disease" and "It's Called a Heart."
Of course, there's also a few low spots. "See You" may have been a hit but hasn't aged well and is hookless really. "The Meaning of Love" is kind of a mediocre attempt at re-creating a "Speak" track. The debut "Dreaming of Me" is okay, but really, DM had a lot better after that one.
All in all, this is an interesting look at one of my all-time favorite groups. Yes, the later one is better ("The Singles 86>98"), but that's also because almost every song there is absolutely wonderful, but this shows who Depeche are at least as much as later stuff. That's the great thing about them: The singles collections show who they are equally as much as the albums do.
Beth Bessmer's Amazon review is the first one I've ever read that did not feel like it was written by a real scholar of rock music. This one sounds like it was written by someone who can't like a song if it doesn't have a guitar solo. All her premises are just wrong. Catching Up was an American release, Singles 81-85 British. Catching Up was just what it says--an opportunity for Americans to catch up with them. And the Men from Mode's sense of HUMOR is completely lost on Bessmer. They included negative reviews of their songs because they were _funny,_ not to fend off the specter of "where are they now." Bessmer talks about this compilation like it came out last year--it came out in '85! How could they be lamenting their obscurity at the height of their popularity? Depeche Mode only sounds "dated" to someone who thinks Mtv "alternative" grunge music is timeless. Depeche Mode wasn't "a" synth band, they were THE synth band, and their music from '81 to '85 is still better than about anything made in the last 10 years. 4 stars because this isn't the place to start with DM. Their albums are always better than their singles. Start with Some Great Reward.
It took Depeche Mode three albums to drift into the gothic synth monsters that would release their first five star album, "Some Great Reward." "Singles 81 - 85" nicely encapsulates the somewhat haphazard two other collections of songs from that period, "Catching Up With Depeche Mode" and "People Are People" into something slightly more coherent and without forcing you to buy two discs. To that end, it's a worthwhile buy. You can watch how Vince Clark's pop world gave way to Martin Gore's darker vision. Think of how the shiny happy "Just Can't Get Enough" is a total 180 turn from the cynical "Everything Counts." Or how the almost tinkertoy sounding three early synthesized singles sound so coy compared to the final two singles here, or the thicker tones of the "People Are People" (or the "Black Celebration" album; essentially just before where this collection cuts off). While I have a hard time telling anyone to just jump off a hits collection and get an individual DM album, it's still hard not to with bands that were making great whole sets. I'd certainly recommend anything from the period from "Some Great Reward" to the hit laden "Violator." Still, both of "The Singles" collections are fine places to either fill gaps or get some DM on a budget.
This Singles 81-85 collection gives a very good grasp of Depeche Mode's early years albums. There are almost all classics what you can listen to. Vince Clarke's era lasted only little time but there are three songs what he has made( Dreaming of Me, New Life and Just Can't Get Enough). I don't like much Speak and Spell album but these tracks are absolutely the best choices for it. Clarke's songs are somehow very similar than M.L Gore's first songs for exemple See You. After the leaving Clarke Gore taked a responsibility for song writing. He has done his job well! My favourite songs from this album are terrific Everything Counts, interesting way made People are People, which tells violence and sentimental Shake the Disease. Love Itself and Get the Balance Right are not so good songs because they are booring and too long. This collections shows that Depeche Mode made intelligent, fine and its own way synth pop music. If you like Duran Duran's two first album( Duran Duran(first) and Rio) and Alphaville's debut album Forever Young, I can say that this collection may be a good inventment for you!
I am aware that this Depeche Mode compilation from '81 to '85 came after the double '86 to '98 one, which I still have yet to review, but I still like the sounds of this synth-based Techno-Pop from the early '80's era. My favorites from this CD would have to be "Just Can't Get Enough", "See You", "Get The Balance Right", "Love In Itself", "People Are People", "Blasphemous Rumours" and "Shake The Disease". And I am quite glad that these collections have been released in the first place, as I have never owned any regular Depeche Mode albums, and this is a major improvement in song selection over 1985's "Catching Up With" album. So, stay tuned for my review of the accompanying collection coming soon. By the way, I like and recommend this CD a whole lot!
It may be surprising for a few people that some of the earlier tracks by DM are really much happier than their later ones (This is Vince Clarke, not Martin). This album proves it very well with examples of earlier tracks such as Dreaming of Me, New Life, and perhaps one of their greatest hits Just Can't Get Enough (which I thought was quite annoying). This compilation is perhaps a very good album to take home with you as it includes some media comments of the band, the ranking of the songs in the UK charts as well as their best stuff (People are People, Master and Servant, It's Called A Heart). Also, there are some very nice songs such as Somebody (Martin sings this one) and a remix of Just Can't Get Enough. Too bad it didn't have Ice Machine which I thought was a good early single. There is a possibility that some of the songs are quite annoying. Over all, I have to say this is a very good compilation with the songs and everything. The songs are also remastered too except that I think they should have the uncut ending of People are People instead of the fading one. A very good compilation but watch out for earlier tracks which can give some people a shock.
Okay, hear me out on this one. The similarities between the respective evolutions of Pink Floyd and The Mode are downright SCARY. Both sagas begin with brilliant, innovative, utterly original songwriters (Vince Clark/Syd Barrett) whose material (minimalist pop/psychadelic pop) instantly makes their bands top 10 juggernauts. But, after just one album (Speak & Spell/Piper at the Gates of Dawn), these respective geniuses have had enough, and leave for other projects (or just go clinically insane in Syd's case). After the abrupt exit of their respective original frontment, NO ONE gave either DM or Floyd any chance of success. After all, what were they to do without their only songwriter and catalyst?? But no one suspected that two of the most utterly brilliant songwriters and arrangers of their generation were waiting in the wings: Martin L. Gore for DM and Roger Waters for Floyd. At first, however, Gore and Waters had attempted to simply copy the style of their predecessors, thereby coming up with mediocre songs like "See You" and "The Meaning of Love" (not nearly matching the incredible pop appeal of the Clark-penned "Dreaming of Me," "New Life" or "Just Can't Get Enough"). Eventually, however, both songwriters were able to break away from the shadows of those who came before, and each carved their own nitche in music history. Martin Gore's first great song on his own was the eminently catchy "Everything Counts," a social commentary on business in Britain, similar in subject matter to Pink Floyd's "Animals." Both Gore and Waters have unique writing styles, but fairly similar to each other in their dark content and lush musical backdrop of later albums like Black Celebration and Music for the Masses (and of course Dark Side of the Moon in Waters' case). Another similarity: Martin Gore and Roger Waters are both incredible songwriters and could conceivably sing their own songs and do so on occasion ("Somebody"), but mostly leave the singing to their sex-appeal drenched lead singers, a pair of Dave G's: Gahan and Gilmour. Do the similarities ever stop??? Also, it should be said that both the Mode and the Floyd did not hit the peak of their commercial success until long after the original frontmen (Clark/Barrett) departed. Also, for some odd reason, stupid critics never really gave either band a chace. Now, if Vince Clark were to go clinically insane from too many acid trips, and if DM put out an album called "Wish Vince was Here"...now that would REALLY be scary. God, I really hope some of you '80's synth heads have heard of Pink Floyd, or else this review made absolutely no sense to you.
Some bands can betray their true style when they release singles compilations. Not Depeche Mode. All their singles are pure DM, not written for radio airplay, but hits none the less.
The album begins with 'Dreaming Of Me' which proves that horrible sounding vocals can still mean an incredible song. From there is gets better and better, highlights being 'Just Can't Get Enough', 'New Life', and 'Blasphemous Rumours'. There isn't a weak track on this, except maybe 'Somebody', which moves away from the usual bouncy tone that their songs seem to have. Despite this, great release. Grab it!