Depeche Mode have released a Double A-side single to wrap up their critically acclaimed tour de force, that is, Playing The Angel. And both song choices are wonderful indeed.
First up is John The Revelator. Much like he did with Blasphemous Rumours, from the album, Some Great Reward, back in 1984, Martin Gore shows us his viewpoint of organized religion, from the "outsider looking in." Admitting in interviews that he has never considered himself to be very religious (although his friend and DM bandmate, Andy Fletcher, has always been such), Martin's perspective on the subject is as fresh and unique as it ever was. While some in the Christian and other religious communities have felt threatened by such ideas, it's this same kind of insight that allows one to truly question their own beliefs and draw strength from them in the process, instead of simply accepting everything they've been told, and believing in it blindly. Of course it's always a nice bonus when the song in question is as catchy as all get out, and very danceable too. And with Dave Gahan at the helm of lead vocals, one can clearly imagine him portraying a religious figure, on stage, when performing this song (just check out the music video on the DVD single for further proof). His voice is as strong and powerful as ever here, with a loudness and urgency all its own, that completely captivates those that would listen. John The Revelator is a Depeche Mode song not to be missed.
Next comes the sexy and decadently sultry, Lilian. The phrase, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," cannot be better explained than through the wonderful stylish songwriting of Martin L. Gore, and the soulful crooning voice work of lead singer, Dave Gahan. The story of a beautiful and seductive woman who finds pleasure in having men lust after them, only to end up breaking their hearts, is a universal one, that every culture can identify with. That explosive physical attraction and raw animalistic passion can be heard throughout each and every note, along with the pain and suffering that goes along with it, especially with lines like, "Our pain and misery always hit the spot. Knowing you can't lose what you haven't got." As if to say that it hurts so much being with you, but I still want you anyway, even though I know I will never truly have you. Depeche Mode have always excelled lyrically and musically with this type of subject matter, with songs like "In Your Room," "A Question of Lust," "It's No Good," & "One Caress," to name but a few. "Lilian" is definitely up there with the best of them, and shows us once again why Depeche Mode are still around after all these years. They're the best.
These Single versions shorten both songs a bit. JTR goes from 3:41 to 3:14, editing out the first 5 seconds of the song as well as shortening the ending by about a minute, with a fadeout. Lilian goes from 4:45 to 3:34, omitting the first 15 seconds of the song, while cutting down each verse a little shorter than before, with a much more abrupt ending. This also marks the first time, in Depeche Mode history, that 5 songs have emerged as singles from the same album, in the UK & Europe. Such a disappointment, at the same time, with the decision not to release any more singles, after "Precious," in the USA, except in digital download format. The lack of support in the states, from the dj's, radio stations, and Reprise Records in general, has been extremely poor. I could be wrong, but I don't remember even hearing Precious played on the radio (perhaps it was played on KROQ). A far cry from 2001, when "Dream On" received frequent airplay stateside. Playing The Angel is a well deserved triumph for the band, and had there been a little more help from all those mentioned, the album could've become an even bigger success, here in the US. Still, it is a great album, nonetheless, with a terrific tour to boot. Looking forward to more to come, in the future, from Martin, Dave, & Andy.