If Mute ever decide to release a Best Of Nitzer Ebb, they could save themselves a considerable amount of time and re-release EBBHEAD in its entirety (possibly with the exception of "Time," which, for my money, is an overlong, annoying waste of, yeah, you guessed it, time) and tack on a few tracks from each of their other albums.
EBBEHEAD was given to me by a fellow student in my high school science class in the early 90's. A little earlier I had been dumped by my longtime girlfriend and cut from the basketball team. I took up running in the morning as a way to fill two voids in my life. Whenever I wasn't listening to Nine Inch Nails' PRETTY HATE MACHINE during these morning marathons, it was EBBHEAD. Some 15 years later EBBHEAD still sounds fresh, while PRETTY HATE MACHINE sounds, well, 15 years old (this doesn't stop me from enjoying it; it just hasn't aged as well as EBBHEAD).
EBBHEAD'S timelessness is due to a couple of factors. The most important is probably the stellar production of Alan Wilder, whose wildly inventive soundscapes are sadly missed on the last couple Depeche Mode records (for further listening, check out his spine-tingling work on "Come Alive" from the somewhat hard-to-find Nitzer Ebb E.P. AS IS). Also, EBBHEAD is Nitzer Ebb's most musical outing. Douglas McCarthy makes a real effort to mix things up vocally as opposed to just barking out lyrics like a one-note drill sergeant on steroids. As a result, EBBHEAD is the only Nitzer Ebb record I can listen to from start to finish (with the exception of "Time," as I mentioned) without cringing intermittently.
Sadly, EBBHEAD was the last great Nitzer Ebb record. BIG HIT followed four years later but forgot to bring the variety and quality. "Kick It" and "I Thought" are the only keepers from that monotonous, muddled mess. People blame Flood for ruining Erasure's LOVEBOAT (he didn't; it's a good record, though a notable step down from the dizzy heights of COWBOY, but I digress), but he did a greater musical disservice to BIG HIT by burying the vocals. Here's hoping Nitzer Ebb reunite someday and have the good sense to bring Alan Wilder back into the studio with them.