Reprise Records (2-48790)
Release Date: October 26, 2004
This was easily one of my most anticipated releases for 2004, though I expected to be disappointed by it in a lot of ways. It's always hard for me to justify buying a reissue package, especially if there is nothing new included or what little that is new isn't enough to inspire me. The regular US release of this package definitely falls into the latter category - almost nothing new was included on the set, and many tracks were actually included in the singles box sets released in March (and still readily available). It feels more like a introductory sampler to the singles box sets rather than an entity of its own.
The three CD version, however, included a handful of brand new remixes, plus a few ultra-rarities (at least, for CD appearances). It was easy for me to justify getting the three disc version to get the Flood remix of "A Question Of Lust" (one of my favorite Depeche Mode remixes) and the two Adrian Sherwood tracks (a remix of "Master And Servant" and the bizarre collage "Are People People?"). With two of these only on the third disc of the set, even the two disc import (or the recently issued US 2-disc version) wouldn't have met my desires.
The disappointment came in while listening to the discs. Like the Pet Shop Boys PopArtMix, this set is severely slanted towards tracks from the 1990's and more recent, while the 80's tracks get overlooked quite regularly. Only 11 out of the 35 tracks come from prior to the release of "Personal Jesus". Considering that "Personal Jesus" was their 23rd single (out of 39), this gives only about a third of the content of the set to the entire first half of their career.
It seems that the tracks weren't selected as much for quality of the mix, but for diversity of remixers whenever possible. For example, when the "Barrel Of A Gun" single was issued, few Depeche Mode fans liked the Underworld Hard Mix of the song. On the Depeche Mode discussion list that I belonged to at the time, the mix that got slammed the most was the Hard mix. Yet this mix was chosen over the United Mix or One Inch Punch Mix, likely for name recognition. Why they felt they had to go with this mix rather than the other Underworld remix (the "Soft" mix, which uses a full vocal over a rather ambient backdrop), I don't think anyone (even at Mute) could readily explain.
This approach of valuing the mixers over the mixes creates a drastic problem. Is the set a collection of Depeche Mode tracks that create a picture of remixing over the last twenty-plus years, or just another third rate dance music compilation, that just happens to have Dave Gahan's vocals sprinkled through the entire thing? While some of the tracks lean toward the former ("Never Let Me Down Again [Split Mix]", "Home [Air 'Around The Golf' Remix]", "Painkiller - Kill The Pain [DJ Shadow vs. Depeche Mode]", and the tracks I mentioned earlier that spurred me to get this release), too many of the tracks veer toward the latter (in addition to the aforementioned "Barrel Of A Gun" remix, there's "It's No Good [Speedy J Mix]" (which lives up to the song's name), "In Your Room [The Jeep Rock Mix]" and the Danny Tenaglia mix of "I Feel Loved"). Even the passable tracks (such as "Strangelove [Blind Mix]", "World In My Eyes [Mode To Joy]" and "Rush [Spriritual Guidance Mix]" (the "Wild Planet Mix" is stronger)) are dragged down by the poor moments than they can counter them.
The new remixes (mostly contained on the third disc) are mostly dismal; the most interesting ones being Rex The Dog's take on "Photographic" (though the version on disc is an instrumental), Goldfrapp's "Halo," and Mike Shinoda's revision of "Enjoy The Silence." Unfortunately, many of these new mixes just feel lackluster and uninspired. Timo Maas turned in a rather disappointing take on "Enjoy The Silence" - made all the more disappointing due to the fact that I've heard better remixes of songs from him on singles by Delerium and Moby, just to name a couple. While the rockier approach to Mike Shinoda's version of "Enjoy The Silence" worked quite well for me, it was tempered with the electronics that made the original track a synthpop anthem. On the other hand, Headcleanr's take on "Nothing" completely dispenses with the electronics in favor of an orgy of guitars and distortion. I've heard them use this approach on a Madonna remix, and it works no better here than it did with her track.
The final disc also happened to be the key to a secret website - which, after the discovery it wasn't working reliably for anyone outside the US, was turned into a public section of the band's official website. The most interesting part of this section was a bundle of additional remixes for purchase, either as individual tracks or as a full album, which followed the pattern of the original three discs of the set. There are a few really nice rarities (the megamix of "Behind The Wheel" and "Route 66", for example), with some disappointingly bad mixes (both versions of "Freelove"), and a couple of easily acquired tracks (a remix of "Personal Jesus" and the extended version of "But Not Tonight"). Quantity (the thirteen tracks cannot fit onto a single CD) does not make up for the lack of quality.
I had expected disappointment. I wasn't expecting to get quite this much of it.
(originally reviewed by Daniel Aeschliman on November 20, 2004, updated on May 3, 2005)
All songs on this disc written by Martin L. Gore except
"Shout" and "Just Can't Get Enough" by Vince Clarke
"Route 66" by Robert William Troup Jr.
"Never Let Me Down Again" by Depeche Mode, Dave Bascombe, and Daniel Miller
"Policy Of Truth," "Rush," and "I Feel You" by Depeche Mode and Flood
"Shout" and "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller
"Home" and "Barrel Of A Gun" by Tim Simenon
"Strangelove" and "Route 66" by Depeche Mode and Dave Bascombe
"Freelove" and "I Feel Loved" by Mark Bell
"Never Let Me Down Again" by Depeche Mode and Dave Bascombe
"Policy of Truth" by Francois Kevorkian
"Shout" and "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller
"Home" by Stephane 'Alf' Briat
"Strangelove" by Daniel Miller and Rico Conning
"Rush" by Jack Dangers
"I Feel You" by Danny Briottet
"Barrel Of A Gun" by Underworld
"Route 66" by Beatmasters
"Freelove" by DJ Muggs
"I Feel Loved" by Doug Hart and Paul Freegard
All songs on this disc written by Martin L. Gore
"Personal Jesus," "World In My Eyes," "In Your Room," and "Enjoy
The Silence" produced by Depeche Mode and Flood
"Get The Balance Right!" and "Everything Counts" by
Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller
"Breathing In Fumes" and "Master And Servant" by Depeche Mode,
Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones
"Painkiller," "Useless," "It's No Good" produced by Tim Simenon
"Dream On" produced by Mark Bell
"Personal Jesus" by Francois Kevorkian
"World In My Eyes" by Jon Marsh
"Get The Balance Right!" by Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller
"Everything Counts" by Alan Moulder
"Breathing In Fumes" by Depeche Mode, Daniel Miller, and Gareth Jones
"Painkiller" by DJ Shadow
"Useless" by Kruder + Dorfmeister
"In Your Room" by Johnny Dollar with Portishead
"Dream On" by Dave Clarke
"It's No Good" by Speedy J
"Master And Servant" by Adrian Sherwood
"Enjoy The Silence" by Timo Maas
All songs written by Martin L. Gore except
"Photographic" by Vince Clarke
All tracks produced as noted above except
"A Question Of Lust," "Are People People?," and "Lie To Me"
by Depeche Mode, Gareth Jones and Daniel Miller
"Walking In My Shoes," "Clean," and "Halo" by Depeche Mode and Flood
"Photographic" by Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller
"Little 15" and "Nothing" by Depeche Mode and Dave Bascombe
"A Question Of Lust" by Flood
"Walking In My Shoes" by William Orbit
"Are People People?" by Adrian Sherwood
"World In My Eyes" by Daniel Miller
"I Feel Loved" by Danny Tenaglia
"It's No Good" by Peter Rauhofer
"Photographic" by Rex The Dog
"Little 15" by Ulrich Schnauss
"Nothing" by Headcleanr
"Lie To Me" by LFO
"Clean" by Marc Nguyen and Norscq
"Halo" by Goldfrapp
"Enjoy The Silence" by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park