Sunday, 27 May 2012

Depeche Mode: The Singles Box Sets

As previously mentioned on this site, one of my original inspirations was to try and write about bands and specific releases they had issued which went some way to “ticking off the boxes” when it came to getting hold of older singles and albums. Some bands have been better at this than others, and it is Depeche Mode who have led the way as regards the 45’s.

By the middle of 2001, Depeche Mode had released 35 singles in the UK - and ALL of them had been boxed up by the end of 2004. A few B-sides and remixes went by the wayside in some cases, but the decision to cobble together material from most, sometimes all, of the formats that were issued per single was a great effort - especially when some of the latter period singles had been issued on so many formats, buying them individually would have cost more than buying an LP! In this blog, I shall detail what the boxsets set out to achieve - and how well they did.

History

One thing that has assisted in allowing the Mode to issue so many box sets, is that they have been on the same label since day 1, signing to Mute in 1981. Their first single was released before it became the law to do a 12” mix of your new single, and thus “Dreaming Of Me” turned up as a rather simple 2-track 7”. Remixes of the band’s next single were made, however, and pretty much every single thereafter would appear on both 7” and 12”.

Following the release of 1990’s monumental “Violator”, there would be a three year gap before Depeche Mode’s next LP, “Songs Of Faith And Devotion”. And it was during this gap that the band decided to issue not one, but three box sets, collecting together a sizeable chunk of their single releases.

A quick look through the records revealed that between 1981 and the end of 1986, the band had issued 17 singles in the UK, the last of which was “A Question Of Time”, the final single released to promote the “Black Celebration” album. And so, three box sets would be issued, each of which would include repressings of six singles. In order to make up the “shortfall” in box three, the decision was taken to include a repressing of 1988’s ‘Odd One Out’ 45, “Little 15”, which - at the time - was officially deemed to have only ever made it into the UK on import, and was therefore to be (re)pressed as a bit of a bonus single, despite dating from the summer of 1988. It had included B-sides not available elsewhere, hence the decision to include this over any other non-UK singles the band had also already released (the US only “But Not Tonight“, as an example).

The repressings came in slimline jewel cases, rather than the usual card sleeve packaging you get for most CD Single Boxsets. Barcodes were printed on each to allow any sold individually to be registered for sales purposes, and the original catalogue numbers were revamped by adding a “CD” prefix - so “Dreaming Of Me”, originally MUTE 13, became CDMUTE 13. The final single in Box 1, “Leave In Silence”, was the starting point for the band’s own personalised “BONG” catalogue system, and thus became CDBONG 1.

The official name for the box sets seem to differ depending on where you look. The side of the box was detailed “Singles 1-6” on the first box, “Singles 7-12” on the second, and so on, but I understand stickers were attached to the front which referred to them as “Singles Box 1”, “Singles Box 2”, etc. Certainly, when the next lot of boxes were issued over a decade later, they were listed as “Singles Box 4”, “Box 5” and “Box 6”.

For each single, the usual approach was to include all tracks from the 7” and 12” editions of the original versions, although for some reason, where a single had been issued on multiple formats, none of the exclusive tracks from the extra formats were to be used. This is a particular problem with boxes two and three, where a large number of live tracks and remixes were issued on limited edition 12” singles, none of which were included in the boxes. I can only think this was done to keep the length of the discs down, and thus (maybe) allow the “individually sold” copies to be eligible for the charts, as there was actually more than enough space on the discs to have included these extra rarities. Where a single had been issued in different covers on different formats, a small reprint of one of the other covers was printed as part of the inlay.

There were a few other quirks. On some occasions, the original A-side mix from the 7” - if it was the same as the LP version - was omitted, but on other occasions it wasn’t (see “Just Can’t Get Enough”, and then “See You”, for example). In other instances, the photo used on the front of the reissue was from one of the limited formats, and made reference to songs that were thus not actually on the disc itself (see “Blasphemous Rumours”). Stickers were added to such discs advising listeners to “check the track listing for actual disc details”.

Because these singles had all been issued on vinyl, and thus in square sleeves, the decision to issue them in rectangular cases meant a bit of rejigging of the artwork needed to take place. The chosen cover was to be slightly reduced in size, and printed slightly off-centre, to the right of the sleeve. The background was black, which in effect, gave the impression of a black border being printed around the artwork. In order to fill the “void” on the left hand side of the cover, a fancy logo was printed which identified which number single in the set it was - so “Dreaming of Me” showed a number 1, “Get The Balance Right” was number 7, and so on. “Little 15” became number 18.

Possibly more by luck than judgement, the cut off point between one box and another made reasonable sense. Box Set 1 includes singles that cover a period up to and including 45’s from their second album, “A Broken Frame”, whilst box set 2 starts with the non-album “Get The Balance Right” (later included on various singles collections) and ends with the final single from “Some Great Reward”, the aforementioned “Blasphemous Rumours”. Box 3 also starts with a non album single, “Shake The Disease” (originally homed by the end of the year though, thanks to the “Singles 81-85” compilation), and as already mentioned, closes with the final single from “Black Celebration” and “Little 15”.

A decade later, in 2001, and Depeche Mode released “Exciter”. The first single from the LP, “Dream On”, was the 35th DM single to be issued in the UK. In other words, the band had now issued another 18 singles since the end of the “Black Celebration” promo campaign, and so it was no surprise to see that three more box sets were dutifully issued in 2004. These box sets came in another lull in activity, as the next studio album after “Exciter” would be 2005’s “Playing The Angel”, although there was a remix album released as well in 2004.

The basic approach was the same as the 1991 boxes, but given that the singles being reissued this time around had already appeared on CD before, the catalogue numbers had an “X” suffix added to differentiate between the 2004 pressing and any previous ones.

The decision was also taken to include all the rarities from all the formats this time around (including videos from the enhanced CD-Rom section of the single, where such an item had been included originally), meaning that in some instances, the discs had so many extra tracks, that the running time of certain singles exceeded an hour, with up to eleven or twelve songs per disc. Again, copies of the singles could be purchased individually, and thus barcodes were used once again on the packaging, although I doubt any of them could have been eligible for the charts with this amount of material appearing on each reissue.

Because of the inclusion of “Little 15” in box 3, box 4 thus firstly went backwards in time, by starting with the first single from 1987’s “Music For The Masses”, “Strangelove”. Box 6 started with the first single from 1997’s “Ultra”, “Barrel Of A Gun” and ended, as already mentioned, with “Dream On”. You can argue about the logic of having a box set which includes the first single from a particular LP, and not having another box set which includes the remaining singles from the same record, but that’s just the way it is.

What Happened Next

The Mode have become a bit less prolific in recent times. They have only managed one more studio album since 2005, another best-of and a second remix set, and as such, have not got round to releasing another 18 singles since “Dream On”.

As such there has been no “Box 9”. Indeed, there has not been a Box 7 either. This could be due to any of the following reasons:
a) nobody has thought about it
b) somebody though about it, then forgot about it
c) somebody is waiting for those 18 singles to exist first, in order to create three (and no less) boxes
d) logistics.

The last option is worth considering. Since the release of “Dream On”, the band have continued to multi-format all of their releases, and have also issued some singles as DVD Singles. Therefore, there may be a question mark over whether or not there would be enough space on a single CD to include all the various mixes for each single. And if there was enough space, where a DVD was issued, to squeeze this into an enhanced CD-Rom section on the disc, would this not be a lessening of picture quality, and thus, a backward step?

I shall be looking at the Mode’s post “Box 6” releases in a future blog, as well as a run through of the band’s studio and compilation albums. And when this happens, we shall see if there is a “Box 7” in the shops by then!

Discography

BOX SET 1 (DMBX 1)

Dreaming Of Me/Ice Machine (CD, Mute CDMUTE 13)
New Life (Remix)/Shout! (7” Mix)/(Rio Remix) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 14)
Just Can’t Get Enough/Any Second Now/Just Can’t Get Enough (Schizo Mix)/Any Second Now (Altered) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 16)
See You (Extended Version)/Now This Is Fun (7” Mix)/(Extended Version) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 18)
The Meaning Of Love/Oberkorn/The Meaning Of Love (Fairly Odd Mix)/Oberkorn (Development Mix) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 22)
Leave In Silence (7” Mix)/Excerpts From My Secret Garden/Leave In Silence (Longer)/Further Excerpts From My Secret Garden/Leave In Silence (Quieter) (CD, Mute CDBONG 1)

BOX SET 2 (DMBX 2)

Get The Balance Right/The Great Outdoors/Get The Balance Right (Combination Mix)/Tora Tora Tora (Live) (CD, Mute CDBONG 2)
Everything Counts (Edit)/Work Hard/Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts)/Work Hard (East End Remix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 3)
Love In Itself 2/Fools/Love In Itself 3/Fools (Bigger)/Love In Itself 4 (CD, Mute CDBONG 4)
People Are People (7” Version)/In Your Memory/People Are People (Different Mix)/In Your Memory (Silk Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 5)
Master And Servant (Single Version)/(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me/Master And Servant (Slavery Whip Mix)/(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me (Release Mix)/Master And Servant (Voxless) (CD, Mute CDBONG 6)
Blasphemous Rumours (Extended)/Told You So (Live)/Somebody (Remix)/Everything Counts (Live) (CD, Mute CDBONG 7)

BOX SET 3 (DMBX 3)

Shake The Disease/Flexible/Shake The Disease (Remixed Extended Version)/Flexible (Remixed Extended Version)/Shake The Disease (Edit The Shake)/Something To Do (Metal Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 8)
It’s Called A Heart/Fly On The Windscreen/It’s Called A Heart (Extended)/Fly On The Windscreen (Extended)/(Death Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 9)
Stripped (7” Edit)/But Not Tonight/Stripped (Highland Mix)/But Not Tonight (Extended Remix)/Breathing In Fumes/Fly On The Windscreen (Quiet Mix)/Black Day (CD, Mute CDBONG 10)
A Question Of Lust (Single Mix)/Christmas Island (Short)/(Extended)/People Are People (Live)/It Doesn’t Matter Two (Instrumental)/A Question Of Lust (Minimal) (CD, Mute CDBONG 11)
A Question Of Time (Remix)/Black Celebration (Live)/Something To Do (Live)/Stripped (Live)/More Than A Party (Live)/A Question Of Time (Extended Remix)/Black Celebration (Black Tulip Mix)/A Question Of Time (New Town Mix/Live Remix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 12)
Little 15/Stjarna/Moonlight Sonata No. 14 (CD, Mute CDLITTLE 15)

BOX SET 4 (DMBX 4)

Strangelove (7” Version)/Pimpf/Strangelove (Maxi Mix)/(Midi Mix)/Fpmip/Strangelove (Blind Mix)/(Pain Mix)/Agent Orange (CD, Mute CDBONG 13X)
Never Let Me Down Again (7” Version)/Pleasure Little Treasure/Never Let Me Down Again (Split Mix)/Pleasure Little Treasure (Glitter Mix)/Never Let Me Down Again (Aggro Mix)/(Tsangarides Mix)/Pleasure Little Treasure (Join Mix)/To Have And To Hold (Spanish Taster) (CD, Mute CDBONG 14X)
Behind The Wheel (Remix)/Route 66/Behind The Wheel (Shep Pettibone Remix)/Route 66 (Beatmasters Mix)/Behind The Wheel (Beatmasters Mix)/Route 66 (Casualty Mix)/Behind The Wheel (CD, Mute CDBONG 15X)
Everything Counts (Live)/Nothing (Live)/Sacred (Live)/A Question Of Lust (Live)/Everything Counts (Tim Simenon/Mark Saunders Remix)/Nothing (Justin Strauss Mix)/Strangelove (Tim Simenon/Mark Saunders Remix)/Everything Counts (Absolut Mix)/(Original 1983 Mix)/Nothing (US 7” Mix)/Everything Counts (Reprise) (CD, Mute CDBONG 16X)
Personal Jesus (Edit)/Dangerous/Personal Jesus (Acoustic)/Dangerous (Hazchemix Edit)/Personal Jesus (Holier Than Thou Approach)/Dangerous (Sensual Mix)/Personal Jesus (Pump Mix)/(Telephone Stomp Mix)/Dangerous (Hazchemix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 17X)
Enjoy The Silence (7” Version)/Memphisto/Enjoy The Silence (Hands And Feet Mix)/(Ecstatic Dub)/Sibeling/Enjoy The Silence (Bass Line)/(Harmonium)/(Ricki Tik Tik Mix)/(The Quad Final Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 18X)

BOX SET 5 (DMBX 5)

Policy Of Truth (7” Version)/Kaleid (7” Version)/Policy Of Truth (Beat Box)/(Capitol Mix)/Kaleid (When Worlds Mix)/Policy Of Truth (Trancentral Mix)/Kaleid (Remix)/Policy Of Truth (Pavlov’s Dub) (CD, Mute CDBONG 19X)
World In My Eyes (7” Version)/Happiest Girl (Jack Mix)/Sea Of Sin (Tonal Mix)/World In My Eyes (Oil Tank Mix)/Happiest Girl (Kiss-A-Mix)/Sea Of Sin (Sensoria)/World In My Eyes (Dub In My Eyes)/(Mode To Joy)/Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Mix)/World In My Eyes (Mayhem Mode)/Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Vocal Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 20X)
I Feel You (7” Mix)/One Caress/I Feel You (Throb Mix)/(Babylon Mix)/(Life’s Too Short Mix)/(Swamp Mix)/(Renegade Soundwave Afghan Surgery Mix)/(Helmet At The Helm Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 21X)
Walking In My Shoes (Seven Inch Mix)/My Joy (Seven Inch Mix)/Walking In My Shoes (Grungy Gonads Mix)/My Joy (Slow Slide Mix)/Walking In My Shoes (Extended Twelve Inch Mix)/(Random Carpet Mix)/(Anandamidic Mix)/(Ambient Whale Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 22X)
Condemnation (Paris Mix)/Death’s Door (Jazz Mix)/Rush (Spiritual Guidance Mix)/(Amylnitrate Mix [Instrumental])/(Wild Planet Mix [Vocal])/Condemnation (Live)/Personal Jesus (Live)/Enjoy The Silence (Live)/Halo (Live) (CD, Mute CDBONG 23X)
In Your Room (Zephyr Mix)/Higher Love (Adrenaline Mix - Edit)/In Your Room (Apex Mix)/(The Jeep Rock Mix)/Higher Love (Adrenaline Mix)/In Your Room (Extended Zephyr Mix)/In Your Room (Live)/Policy Of Truth (Live)/World In My Eyes (Live)/Fly On The Windscreen (Live)/Never Let Me Down Again (Live)/Death’s Door (Live) (CD, Mute CDBONG 24X)

BOX SET 6 (DMBX 6)

Barrel Of A Gun/Painkiller/Barrel Of A Gun (Underworld Soft Mix)/(One Inch Punch Mix)/(Underworld Hard Mix)/(United Mix)/Painkiller (Plastikman Mix)/Barrel Of A Gun (3.Phase Mix)/(One Inch Punch Mix [Version 2]) (CD, Mute CDBONG 25X)
It’s No Good/Slowblow/It’s No Good (Dom T’s Bass Bounce Mix)/(Speedy J Mix)/(Hardfloor Mix)/Slowblow (Darren Price Mix)/It’s No Good (Andrea Parker Mix)/(Motor Bass Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 26X)
Home (LP Version)/(Air “Around The Golf” Remix)/(LFO Meant To Be)/(The Noodles And The Damage Done)/(Jedi Knights Remix [Drowning In Time])/(Grantby Mix)/Barrel Of A Gun (Live)/It’s No Good (Live) (CD, Mute CDBONG 27X)
Useless (Remix)/(Escape From Wherever: Parts 1&2!)/(Cosmic Blues Mix)/(CJ Bolland Ultrasonar Mix)/(The Kruder + Dorfmeister Session)/(CJ Bolland Funky Sub Mix)/(Air 20 Mix)/(Live)/Barrel Of A Gun (Video)/It’s No Good (Video) (CD, Mute CDBONG 28X)
Only When I Lose Myself (Single Version)/Surrender/Headstar/Only When I Lose Myself (Subsonic Legacy Mix)/(Dan The Automator Mix)/Headstar (Luke Slater Remix)/Only When I Lose Myself (Gus Gus Long Play Mix)/Painkiller (Kill The Pain - DJ Shadow Vs Depeche Mode)/Surrender (FC Catalan Out Of Reach Mix)/Only When I Lose Myself (Gus Gus Short Play Mix)/World In My Eyes (Safar Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 29X)
Dream On (Single Version)/Easy Tiger (Full Version)/(Bertrand Burgalat & AS Dragon Version)/Dream On (Bushwacka Tough Guy Mix)/(Dave Clarke Acoustic Version)/(Octagon Man Mix)/(Kid 606 Mix)/(Dave Clarke Remix)/(Bushwacka Blunt Mix) (CD, Mute CDBONG 30X)

Note: although only a handful of these releases mentioned the use of a 7” Mix on the packaging, it is understood that wherever a 7” Mix existed, this was used even if the sleeve notes made no mention of it.

OTHER SINGLES FROM PERIOD

Get The Balance Right/My Secret Garden (Live)/See You (Live)/Satellite (Live)/Tora Tora Tora (Live) (Limited 12”, Mute L12 BONG 2)
Everything Counts (Edit)/New Life (Live)/Boys Say Go! (Live)/Nothing To Fear (Live)/The Meaning Of Love (Live) (Limited 12”, Mute L12 BONG 3)
Love In Itself 2/Just Can’t Get Enough (Live)/A Photograph Of You (Live)/Shout (Live)/Photographic (Live) (Limited 12”, Mute L12 BONG 4)
People Are People (On U Sound Mix)/(7” Version)/In Your Memory (Limited 12”, Mute L12 BONG 5)
Master And Servant (An On U Sound Science Fiction Dance Hall Classic)/Are People People?/(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me (Limited 12”, Mute L12 BONG 6)
Blasphemous Rumours (Extended)/Somebody (Live)/Two Minute Warning (Live)/Ice Machine (Live)/Everything Counts (Live) (Limited 12”, Mute L12 BONG 7)
Shake The Disease (Edit The Shake)/Master And Servant (Live)/Flexible (Pre-Deportation Mix)/Something To Do (Metal Mix) (Limited 12”, Mute L12 BONG 8)
It’s Called A Heart (Extended)/Fly On The Windscreen (Extended)/It’s Called A Heart (Slow Mix)/Fly On The Windscreen (Death Mix) (Limited 2x12”, Mute D12 BONG 9)
A Question Of Lust (Flood Mix)/Christmas Island/If You Want (Live)/Shame (Live)/Blasphemous Rumours (Live) (Cassette with insert and badge, Mute C BONG 11)

Note: some of the mixes listed above have been re-housed on some of the band’s remix albums, meaning it is possible to get away with not buying the limited “Master And Servant” 12” if you get the 3-CD edition of “Remixes 81-04”, as an example. However, the sleeves of these releases are different to the standard editions, so are of some interest in terms of artwork, so I have listed all of the singles not “covered” in the box sets on this basis. A lot of the live material remains unavailable anywhere else in physical forms, AFAIAA.

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