Music Monday: Depeche Mode “Black Celebration”

black celebration
28 Years Old Today

Depeche Mode’s 1986 album “Black Celebration” turns 28 years old today.

History

I discovered Depeche Mode on August 6, 1985 [my 22nd birthday] when I heard KROQ play “People Are People” on the radio. From that day forward, I fell in love with their music and they went on to become one of my favorite bands of all time.

I was at the Tower Records in Costa Mesa, CA 28 years ago today and bought the cassette version of this album, their 5th studio release. I played this album to death over the next 18 months until their next album came out. I still have the original cassette.

In July 1996, I went to see the band – my first of nine times – at Irvine Meadows. Playing a good number of the songs, it cemented the popularity of the band and was the precursor to much larger success with their next three albums.

Track Listing

black celebration track listing

  1. “Black Celebration”
  2. “Fly on the Windscreen (Final)”
  3. “A Question of Lust”
  4. “Sometimes”
  5. “It Doesn’t Matter Two”
  6. “A Question of Time”
  7. “Stripped”
  8. “Here Is the House”
  9. “World Full of Nothing”
  10. “Dressed in Black”
  11. “New Dress”
  12. “But Not Tonight”

Of note that I never realized until recently, the US mix of the song “A Question of Time” plays the opening 4 seconds twice in a row. I always thought it was intentional.

Dark Release For The Ages

This is one of the darkest albums I’ve listened to. That’s saying a lot given there are some pretty dark records out there that I’ve heard over the years. But the construction of the songs is the sound that many of us Depeche Mode fans have known and become familiar with over the years.

Songs like “Dressed In Black” and “Stripped” are so deep and twisted, even with “Stripped” being a live in concert staple since it came out. The quirky “New Dress” has a modern “Blasphemous Rumors” lyrical similarity to it, given it’s reference “Princess Di has a new dress” chorus. “A Question of Lust” might just be Martin Gore’s finest vocal moment in a studio recording [“Home” comes very close to topping this song] in his tenor exclaims about unapologetic desire.

I listen to this album a few times a year and it stands up very well over time. It’s not dated like “Speak & Spell” can be. It’s modern enough to keep up with some current Depeche Mode songs from the last few albums.

Most of the credit goes to Dave Gahan, who’s dark vocals give each one of these tracks that deep down feel of anxiety and far reaching into the mind and soul that cry out each word and spoken thought.

If you are fan, go dig out your cassette or CD. Or find $10 and go to Amazon or iTunes and buy the digital version. You won’t be disappointed.

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