In recent times it's difficult to think of a band who quite compare to Depeche Mode; a group who have somehow managed to sell millions of records worldwide whilst still providing largely bleak material which draws on extremely unfashionable influences. Who else could use 'music' by the likes of Deutsche Amerikanische Freundschaft and Cabaret Voltaire and transform these soundscapes into something which could be palatable in both the UK and, crucially, the US?
This compilation documents Depeche Mode's 'serious' years when they deliberately set out to shed their pretty boy skin. From the very outset the band are pictured transforming Martin Gore's twisted love songs into disturbing visual images; most of them documented by renowned photographer and director Anton Corbijn. The visual images are repeated throughout: destruction, women with 'come hither' eyes and bodies, loneliness, paranoia and of course, Gore's odd hair and bondage gear. One fault is though, the unrelenting seriousness and claustrophobia conveyed on videos such as A Question Of Time, Never Let Me Down and Behind The Wheel is a little wearing. It comes as something of a relief when old favourite 'Everything Counts' pops up in live form.
Pleasingly the later videos are perhaps more watchable and fascinating. David Gahan parodies the traditional ageing rock-band persona in 'It's No Good' and the band appear in school bully mode in 'Useless'. 'Enjoy The Silence' is both a classic miserable, pop record and a great video; the photogenic Gahan walking lonely across vast mountainous landscapes dressed in king's robes. It's also refreshing to see that the whole group are playing more traditional instruments in 'In Your Room', real drums, guitars and piano rather than Gahan dominating the stage with elaborate movements.
To sum up, this compilation serves as a great reminder of how to make dazzling videos and also just how much Depeche Mode should be held in great esteem by the British public. They have never rested on their laurels; always seeking to reinvent after each album and therefore sounding and looking fresh and vital whilst the competition floundered.