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CD Review: Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward

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Some Great Reward marked a huge turning point in Depeche Mode’s music. Huge. It was with this album that Martin L. Gore began to write about relationships against a backdrop of pseudo-religious themes; it was, musically, a big change due to the involvement of Alan Wilder as he brought sequencing and other electronic tools to the creation of music; and it marked a point where the band gained a larger following in the United States.

We begin things with the infectious “Something to Do,” a song about…well, I think boredom and cross-dressing, against a backdrop of playful synth lines and percussion.

“Lie to Me” brings us into relationship territory with a minimalist synth bass line and percussion (and lyrically gives us the title of the album…)

Next up is “People are People,” and I’ve got to say, I’ve never liked this song. I hate it when a band has to dredge something up to appeal to the U.S. market. And, frankly, Martin writing about prejudice just doesn’t fit into the overall theme of Some Great Reward.

“It Doesn’t Matter” is the first ballad of the album, a lovely number with a basic synth melody.

“Stories of Old” is ambitious lyrically, starting slow with a minimalist synth back-beat and leading to a stronger synth line and percussion. A great song.

“Somebody” — what can I say? One of DM’s most well-known songs (and, according to Alan Wilder, one of the quickest to record, I believe he said it was in one or two takes), a Martin L. Gore ballad against a simple piano backdrop and some sampled voices.

Ready for a dose of S/M? “Master and Servant” changes gears in a big way with this song about about, well, sex.

“If You Want” is an Alan Wilder number, a song I’ve always liked, although not the strongest lyrically. Wilder has said in the past he really didn’t enjoy writing traditional songs and felt more at home in the studio.

We close with the (then) controversial “Blasphemous Rumours,” a song that is pretty much anti-religion, at least in the sense of a god allowing bad things to happen. It’s an interesting track with lots of sampling and a basic synth line.

Some Great Reward would set the stage, and tone, for DM’s future efforts. An essential part of your DM collection.

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