Construction Time Again (Rhino/Reprise/Sire/Mute)
Black Celebration (Rhino/Reprise/Sire/Mute)
Rhino's bizarrely out-of-sequence Depeche Mode campaign concludes here with these two albums separated by 1984's Some Great Reward and, thanks to "People Are People," a sea change in the Basildon, England, quartet's popularity. For third album Construction Time Again, the group welcomed Alan Wilder into the fold full time and began a fruitful association with engineer Gareth Jones. They also used a sampler for the first time, most memorably on the dirgelike "Pipeline," which grew out of ambient noise at a nearby construction site. Construction Time is stark and sleek, a reflection of Martin Gore's interest in German electronic bands, and "Everything Counts" remains both high-water mark of Eighties synth-pop and cynical three-minute primer on the music business. Pithy opener "Love, in Itself," actually flirting with jazz at times, isn't bad either. Two years later, exhausted from the Some Great Reward tour, Depeche Mode were on the defensive, and Black Celebration's creation was difficult and fraught. "It was obvious from early on that we were struggling to get pop singles," writes longtime producer Daniel Miller in new liner notes. "Martin just wanted to write much heavier, darker, and bleaker songs." That he did, from the life-is-shit hiss of "Fly on the Windscreen Final" to the acerbic social commentary of "New Dress." He also hit upon the absolutely gorgeous "Stripped," "Sometimes," and "A Question of Lust," and today DM diehards cling to Black Celebration tighter than either Music for the Masses or Violator. As with the rest of the set, these reissues append a bonus disc of 5.1 and stereo mixes, bonus tracks (notably "Get the Balance Right!" and "But Not Tonight"), and a brief documentary tracking the band's exploits during the albums' birth. Collect 'em all.
(Construction Time Again)