ARTIST: Depeche Mode
TITLE: Speak & Spell
YEAR RELEASED: 1981
CHART ACTION: #192 US, #10 UK
SINGLES: New Life (#29 US Dance, #11 UK), Just Can’t Get Enough (#26 US Dance, #8 UK), Dreaming of Me (#47 US Dance, #57 UK) was on the US vinyl release.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really, not here, unless you are really into Depeche Mode.
LINEUP: David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, Vince Clarke
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut record from the long-lasting electronic / synth band is kind of a light synth-pop workout instead of the brooding work of later years.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Many of us who are of the age to remember MTV videos do recall “Just Can’t Get Enough” with its bright cheery synth lines and Gahan’s baritone voice extolling the virtues of new love. Vince Clarke was the main songwriter and brains behind the band, and he definitely had a pop-oriented dance vision.
It’s decently crafted synth-pop from a production standpoint. It takes something from the electronic pop pioneers and added a more dance-oriented beat. Yet, there’s a lot of filler here – Clarke’s songwriting would improve (“Boys Say Go!” And “Nodisco!” are rather embarrassing) and Gahan’s voice isn’t quite suited for this brighter work. Just a few tracks will escape the exiling.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: “What’s Your Name” is Gore and Fletcher’s least favorite Depeche Mode track.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the UK album version is out with the singles, B-sides and a couple of remixes added.
GRADE: C+: “Just Can’t Get Enough” upgrades this a grade. About half exiled. The whole thing is really for die-hards.