Vinyl love: Depeche Mode “101”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Depeche Mode
Album Title: 101
Year released: 1988
Year reissued: 2016
Details: 2 x 180 gram, gatefold, 16-page booklet

The skinny: “Good evening, Pasadena!!!!” I don’t have a lot of live albums in my collection and typically, I’m not a big fan. However, in a case like this, I get away with it because I’ve got a lot of history here. “101”, so named because the recordings are culled from Depeche Mode’s 101st show on their “Music for the masses tour”, was the closest thing the band had to a “best of” compilation around the time that I was just getting into them. I recorded a copy off my friend John’s compact disc and I listened to it pretty non stop for months. I know every nuance, every bit of banter with the audience, and how the live versions differ from the studio versions of these songs. In some cases, I even prefer these live recordings. So yeah, it was an important one to add to my collection and I was especially happy when I saw the 16 page booklet, designed by regular collaborator Anton Corbijn that was included with this reissue.

Standout track: “Everything counts (Live)”

Vinyl love: Depeche Mode “Some great reward”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Depeche Mode
Album Title: Some great reward
Year released: 1985
Year reissued: 2007
Details: remastered, 180 gram, gatefold

The skinny: Back at the end of January, I posted the first in a three-part series that I thought I would have had wrapped up by now. My plan was to do three Top Five Tunes posts on three different eras of Depeche Mode’s storied past but here we are at the beginning go August and only the instalment on their 1980s output has been published to these pages. I’ve been putting off finishing part two (Mode’s top five tunes of the 1990s) for so long that I every time I sit down to it, I find myself rewriting everything I had previously written. It’s getting silly now, though, so I thought I might spin some classic Depeche Mode to get myself in the mood to finish it. “Some great reward” was the first of the synthpop quartet’s albums I purchased with my own money and perhaps not coincidentally, was the first piece of theirs that I purchased for my vinyl collection back in 2013. It’s a 1980s classic that hosts many of their iconic tunes, including two which placed in part one of the aforementioned series. This reissue was a remaster by Rhino Records, pressed on 180 gram vinyl, and includes a write up by producer and founder of Mute Records, Daniel Miller. (I can feel the writing juices starting to flow again…)

Standout track: “Blasphemous rumours”

100 best covers: #68 Echo And The Bunnymen “People are strange”

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So this here’s another example of a cover that I heard first and with which I was quite familiar before finally hearing the original. Interestingly, though, both discoveries were the result of films from my youth and their soundtracks.

Echo & the Bunnymen’s cover of “People are strange” was featured on the soundtrack for the original “Lost boys” film, which came out in 1987. I remember watching it (against my parents’ wishes) as a teenager with my adopted older brother as soon as it was released to VHS. Was I scared? A bit. Okay, maybe a lot. A young Kiefer Sutherland was quite terrifying as a vampire. But I was a big fan of two Coreys back in the day and they were hilarious as the intrepid vampire hunters.

A few years after that, in 1991, the big film of the summer was Oliver Stone’s biopic, “The doors”, for which I was still just a tad too young to see in the theatres. I watched it on VHS, again, months later but the film had already done its work revitalizing the public’s interest in the 60s psych rock band and I fell in line, copying a friends copy of their ‘best of’ to cassette tape. It was here that I put the proverbial face and name to more than a few songs with which I was already familiar and discovered a few new favourites, including what I learned (the hard way) was the original version of “People are strange”.

I love Echo & The Bunnymen and this cover but I think I might give the edge to The Doors here. The latter’s musicianship, especially that of Ray Manzarek, often takes a back seat in the shadows of their infamous poet/frontman but it really is good stuff. The carnival/side show feel of the original “People are strange” is a lot of fun but the cover shades up on the sinister feel exponentially, which is not necessarily a bad thing (especially given the subject of the film on whose soundtrack it appears). Ian McCulloch’s vocals are more overtly darker than Morrison’s and the sound bleaker, yeah, the organs have more reverb (but really, Manzarek needed none of that).

Okay. I give up. Both versions are quite haunting… though for very different reasons. Thoughts?

Cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.