Number Ones: #120


  • DEPECHE MODE Behind The Wheel (Mute)
  • Week Ending 9th January 1988
  • 1 Week At #1

A new year, a new chart-topper, but otherwise very much business as usual, with Depeche Mode notching up their NINTH #1 and their SEVENTH in a row courtesy of Music For The Masses‘ third single. It also, of course, went straight in at the top.

Behind The Wheel did feel like a rather obvious choice; its role reversal from the usual domination to submission (“oh little girl, drive anywhere, do what you want…I don’t care”) not entirely masking the sense that this was another in the Something To Do / Question Of Time series of darkly insistent chugathons. Alan Wilder’s clever arrangement (muso alert…it apparently fails to resolve itself, going round in circles ad infinitum) keeps the attention longer than the track really deserves.

The 7″ mix brought in a skittery electro element, reminiscent of Francois Kavorkian’s 1984 remix of Tour De France by Kraftwerk, but the best interpretation was by The Beatmasters, who went the way of A Question Of Time and added oomph plus some wonderfully wonky synth effects. It’s a shame that their remix wasn’t edited down for the single release.

1988 was the year Depeche Mode conquered America, culminating in the legendary Pasadena Rose Bowl concert captured on the “101” film and Live album that followed in early 1989. With their focus on touring, no further (official) UK singles were taken from Music For The Masses, which was a missed opportunity as either Nothing or a reworked/expanded version of To Have And To Hold had the necessary qualities.

Instead, only an import release of Little 15, probably the least chart-friendly track on the whole album, bar PIMPF, made it into the lower reaches of the Top 75.

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