Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for November 14, 2014

[Time to Catch Up] -- This week in 1985, Depeche Mode released Catching Up With Depeche Mode, a compilation album for US and Canadian fans. This release gathered singles and album tracks from the previous four studio albums (Speak & SpellA Broken FrameConstruction Time Again, and Some Great Reward) in an attempt to help fans across the Atlantic "catch up" with the band's growing discography. It was the second of two such compilations in the 80s (the first being People Are People in 1984). Now, Catching Up is similar to, but slightly different from, a singles compilation that was released in the UK: The Singles 81→85. We can see that in the track listing for each release:
Track listing for Catching Up With Depeche Mode: 
01 - Dreaming Of Me
02 - New Life
03 - Just Can't Get Enough
04 - See You
05 - The Meaning Of Love
06 - Love, In Itself
07 - Master And Servant
08 - Blasphemous Rumours
09 - Somebody
10 - Shake The Disease
11 - Flexible
12 - It's Called A Heart
13 - Fly On The Windscreen  
Track listing for The Singles 81→85: 
01 - Dreaming Of Me
02 - New Life
03 - Just Can't Get Enough
04 - See You
05 - The Meaning Of Love*
06 - Leave In Silence
07 - Get The Balance Right
08 - Everything Counts
09 - Love In Itself
10 - People Are People
11 - Master And Servant
12 - Blasphemous Rumours
13 - Somebody*
14 - Shake The Disease
15 - It's Called A Heart

*CD only (not on original vinyl)

What trio of tunes have I selected to help you Catch Up as you Flash Back? Read and hear more after the break!

Flashback #1"I just want to see your sweet smile | Smiled the way it was before."

"See You" was released as a 7" and 12" single in January of 1982. It later appeared on Depeche Mode's second studio album, A Broken Frame (September 1982). This single, and many of songs on A Broken Frame, saw Martin Gore come to the fore in the wake of Vincent Clarke's departure (see the 3/11/11 Flashback post, The Clarke Effect). "See You" was a top ten hit in the UK, and a top 40 hit in other countries (such as Germany and Ireland). This was higher chart success than the band had had with with Clarke-penned songs on their first album. The single version has lead singer Dave Gahan's voice recorded rather breathy and dreamy; in live performances, however, he tended to sing this tune a bit deeper and more robust. You can compare the differences between the single version (below) and a live performance, if you wish. 

Flashback #2"I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours | But think that God's got a sick sense of humor | And when I die, I expect to find Him laughing." 

Biblical literalists will likely find our next song rather blasphemous. But is it any less blasphemous to saddle children with the idea that some of their actions actually hurt their "loving father in heaven"? What idea is more damaging: That of a laughing deity; or that of an angry and vindictive deity? You can make your own choices, but I know that my vision of divinity holds more room for laughter than corporeal punishment. I suspect Depeche Mode, who released "Blasphemous Rumours" as the third single off their fourth studio album, Some Great Reward (1984), also struggled with the notions of God they learned as children. Not surprisingly, "Blasphemous Rumours" was considered offensive and even banned by some U.S. radio stations. I found it to be beautiful and poignant. The song has aged well, in my opinion, and is still a worthy meditation on God, death, chance, and teachings that surround these topics. If you are interested, there is even an 8:00 minute, mini-movie version of the video that explores the story in more depth. The casual 80s-phile can simply enjoy the "single" version of the song here:

Flashback #3"Hearts can never be owned | Hearts only come on loan."

Our final flashback of the day was a single, but it was never released on a studio album. It appears only on the compilation albums Catching Up With Depeche Mode (US) and The Singles 81→85 (UK). Lyrically and musically, it is rather simple. But its theme was eagerly embraced by the record buying public in the fall of 1985. It reached #18 on the UK singles chart. For its target demographics (high schoolers, college students, and young hipsters looking for love in dance clubs), the pulsing beat matched the thumping of their own searching -- and often overly protected -- hearts. Here is our final flashback of the day: "It's Called a Heart"

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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