All-Time Albums: #91


DEPECHE MODE Songs Of Faith And Devotion

I Feel You 4:35 (UK single, #8)
Walking In My Shoes 5:35 (UK single, #14)
Condemnation 3:19 (UK single, #9)
Mercy In You 4:17
Judas 5:13
In Your Room 6:24 (UK single, #8)
Get Right With Me 3:52
Rush 4:36
One Caress 3:30
Higher Love 5:56


In so many ways, Depeche Mode are my ultimate group. Their singles output between 1983 and 1998 put them streets ahead of anyone else, certainly when it came to my personal charts (22 #1s, and another 4 making #2). Surely they’d be a given for the upper reaches of my All-Time Album list? Well…um….it’s not always that simple.

A Depeche Mode album could be a frustrating affair, sometimes (no pun intended) blighted by Martin Leslie Gore’s need to express himself honestly for approximately a third of the LP, usually in the form of a soul-baring ballad or an awkward paean to corruptible young girls in leather boots or black dresses. Or both. In 1983, it was new and diverting, but by 1988 we’d all had enough of that, thanksverymuch.

In the early 90s, once U2 had upped their own game with Achtung Baby and upped the ante in general for any alternative band wishing for world domination and/or credibility, Depeche Mode’s answer was this extremely intense, wayward, indulgent and magnificent opus. It was their first UK #1 album, although in true DM style it didn’t stay on the Top 75 for more than a couple of months plus spare change.

Yes, there are more enjoyable Depeche Mode albums (Some Great Reward, Music For The Masses), and in ’83 the Construction Time Again set was as much of a drastic gear-shift compared to its predecessor as Songs Of Faith And Devotion was to Violator, although more in image and the extremities they pushed the sound rather than a total reinvention.

The era kicked off with a blast of feedback, a guitar from the depths of hell, and – if you were watching the lead single’s video – the (then) extraordinary sight of Dave Gahan replete with Jesus hair and beard. In 1993, this chimed perfectly with the age, and with my own sensibilities. As much as I loved my ’80s music, the first couple of years of the ’90s saw me immersing myself in music which sounded nothing like that decade. It helped that a lot of ’80s acts were “doing a U2” and getting down ‘n’ dirty, grunging up their sound as much as possible. Twenty years later, a lot of it sounds an overwrought mess, but I Feel You, Walking In My Shoes and especially Higher Love hit the spot.

Sadly, this would also be the last decent Depeche Mode album.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s