Depeche Mode was one of the most dominating and musically-inspiring groups of the 1980s. The group was first considered part of the British New Romantic movement, but they quickly developed into a pure synth-pop band.
1981 - 1985
Their first released track, 'Photographic', appeared on the 1980 compilation Some Bizarre Album, which also contained the first outings of many other notable bands including Blancmange, Soft Cell and The The. However, Depeche Mode's own first album, Speak and Spell, was published by Mute Records in 1981, featuring the hit-single 'Just Can't Get Enough'.
At that time, the band consisted of Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, David Gahan and Andrew Fletcher. However, soon after the first album, Vince Clarke left the band to form first Yazoo1 and then Erasure, another renowned 1980s electro-pop band. Under the name The Assembly, he also had a UK number 1 hit with 'Never Never'.
Meanwhile the group recorded their second album A Broken Frame. David Gahan had always been the lead vocalist, although Martin Gore stood in on some of the higher-pitched songs2, and now Gore took over the song writing. Andrew Fletcher sort of played keyboards, too, but he has also been a kind of manager for the band.
Alan Wilder, who had helped out on the prevous tour, joined the band on keyboards and synths in time for Depeche Mode's 1983 album, Construction Time Again. In contrast with the first two albums, this was somewhat experimental and a little melancholic, a sound which became a trademark for Depeche Mode and Martin's songs.
In 1984, Some Great Reward followed, featuring some great hits including 'People Are People' and 'Master and Servant'. On this album the sound, although quite melodic, is quite industrial, with heavy mechanical-sounding samples. The titles also express a strong feeling of anger and sadness - again.
1986 - 1990
In 1986 came the fifth album Black Celebration and also a change in style, with Martin's songs becoming ever darker and more mysterious. Some of the hits on this album include 'Stripped' and 'Fly On The Windscreen'.
A year later, Music For The Masses came out, a very important album for Depeche Mode showing great innovative ideas with many of the tracks given a new sharpness with guitar strikes. Songs like 'Never Let Me Down Again' and 'Behind the Wheel' sound so different to tracks from older albums. The whole album emanates a feeling of breaking away, voyaging and travelling. The B-side of the 'Behind The Wheel' single fits nicely into this spirit; a reinterpretation of 'Route 66'.
In 1988, the famed video, tour and double live album 101 were put into motion. The album featured all the group's greatest hits to date and the video was made by DA Pennebaker, film maker.
Released in 1990, Violator is a sleek, nifty pop-album featuring many catchy tunes such as 'Enjoy the Silence', 'World in My Eyes', and last but not least 'Personal Jesus'. Although not intellectually challenging, the synth-sounds are just great and the music is very danceable.
1991 - 2000
After a pause, the album Songs of Faith and Devotion hit the scene in 1993. Probably commercially Depeche Mode's most successful album, it featured 'Walking in My Shoes', 'I Feel You' and 'Condemnation'.
Here, at the peak of their success, problems began to arise. After the Devotional Tour in 1995, Alan Wilder quit the band to concentrate on his solo project Recoil. David Gahan, who had serious drug problems, attempted to commit suicide.
However, the band overcame all those problems and returned in 1997 with the album Ultra, probably its most innovative album ever, featuring hits like 'Barrel Of A Gun' and 'It's No Good' as well as more atmospheric and instrumental titles such as 'Jazz Thieves'.
In 1998, a second single compilation, DM 86 - 98 was combined with the successful Singles Tour.
In May 2001, Depeche Mode released a new album called Exciter. Martin Gore referred to it as the band's most optimistic album, featuring new sounds and styles. The first two singles were 'Dream On' and 'I Feel Loved' and there was a subsequent Exciter Tour, which covered the US, UK, Germany and some other European countries.
Depeche Mode on the Internet
On the official Depeche Mode Website you can find a complete archive of the band's discography, lyrics and excerpts from nearly all their music videos as well as other video material.