on 26 February 2002
"Black Celebration" is the album where Depeche Mode finally came of age. The innocent synth pop of youth was suddenly engulfed in a dark perverse world of bleak atmospherics and seedy lust. The Basildon boys had given up the friday nights in local Youth Clubs for fetish clubs in Berlin.
Opening with the powerful but doom ladened "Black Celebration" the album varies between dark, intense atmospheres and minimal, stark ballads.
Tracks such as the throbbing "A Question Of Time" and politicised "New Dress" attemp to raise the tempo and are as close as the album gets to poppier moments. The sad haunting ballads are best represented by the magnificent "A Question Of Lust" and eerie "It Doesn't Matter Two".
Falling somewhere in between these tracks is the wonderfully dark brooding and intense "Stripped" and "Here Is The House" where a clock is used as the percussive back-drop.
"Black Celebration" is often rightly considered to be one of Depeche Mode's best albums. Whilst mot immediately accessible it is certainly an album that set the agenda for the rest of their career.
I was once asked what my favourite album was, and what was the most depressing album I owned? I (perversely?) answered this to both, and it would probably still be included in my top 5 of lists for both headings.
Dark and brooding, filled with Death (Fly on the Windscreen), Sex (A Question of Lust, A Question of Time), Questions (see previous), Love (World Full of Nothing) and manipulation of the masses by the press through how stories are written ("You cant change the world, but you can change the facts....." - New Dress). It's one of those albums where the meaning behind each song appears apparent, but then you talk to someone else, and they have interpreted it a different way.
If you want to own one DM album - buy this one (then go and get Violator [CD + DVD]). If you want to own one "bleak" album in your chest of "cheery pop" - buy this one.
Many of the reviews here concentrate on whether the re-release of the album and the mixing has improved it...taking all of the comments on board, whatever mix you listen to it in, it is still without doubt DMs best, and an essential purchase for anyone with any interest whatsoever in this criminally under rated band or late 80s synth pop.
on 19 February 2007
If you're reading this you already know that this is a great Depeche mode Album and I can't tell you what your taste is so just some comments about some actual pressing. First if you have the 86-98 collection you'll already have most of the good songs on the CD and there are only minor changes to the mixing. More importantly this Album has plenty of dynamic range compared to the 86-98 mixing which have been a tad over compressed (The 86-98 version actually clips the snare in "Question of Lust"). Look up the "loudness wars" if you don't know what I'm talking about. As for the music there is really something there for everyone with some tracks harking back to their earlier days and other clearly indicating what was to come next with Violator. On those grounds it's definitely worth a closer look for a Depeche mode fan.
I've been a Depeche Mode fan for years, and i've been with them through their highs and lows - from the fun simple piano sounds they introduced during the early 80's, to their unfortunate drug influenced era during the 90's. So in may ways, it makes perfect sense that their album Black Celebration should be their best.
A blend of character, fantastic mixing in some cases, and song order makes this the classic album thats ideal to listen to at night. Indeed, this is one 'black' celebration, as it doesn't house the bright sounds of their very singles album (81-85), but instead, foucses much more on Martin Gore's passion for songs of devotion, and wonder. The lead song fits these catergories well, and was the perfect choice to start the album. Nice lyrics and a great beat line make it a song to kick start the album, and some seamless mixing into Fly on the Windowscreen was the perfect choice, as I've always felt track 2 was one of the strongest points of the album - such a fantastic song with, again, strong lyrics, and the "Come Here, Kiss Me, Now..." will be floating around your head for a long time. A quesiton of Lust has had mixed reviews, suprisingly, for some people, but its always been a song I've liked, and has a nice passionate touch to it. Sometimes and Doesn't Matter Too are the 2 shortest songs on the album, and feel more like ideas rather than complete songs. But I feel this is what gives the album character - its not like anything you've heard before. Its unique - almost a piece of art, without going too far.
A Question of Time has always been a favourite with Mode fans, and thankfully its here. However, its slightly different to the original version - lower tempo, and maybe reduced ryth's in the background. But this just makes it suit the album better - the original wouldn't have knitted as well, as its brighter sounds would just remind us of the video (the guy on the motorbike!). Stripped however is the perfect choice, and contrasts in that the video to the song was set at night, and has the perfect theme for the album - again, another favourite.
The 2nd half of the album differs in that each song is very much unique - even more so than the 1st half. Here Is The House is an unusual song for Mode, but puts a nice touch on the album, making it very homely, and leads absolutely beautifully into World Full Of Nothing. Indeed, at just 2mins 48 seconds, its doesnt sound like a complete song. But then, is this a normal album? No at all - the song feels more like a moment in a romantic movie when 2 young lovers bond for the first time. And as it happens, thats the lovely theme of the song. Well done Martin!
Dressed In Black has a very 80's sound to it, followed by New Dress, which attacks the issues in modern society, and has some gud lyrics, though it doesn't seem to fit in with the other songs in that sense, though its good 'break-beat' sound is a nice change.
Breatthing In Fumes acts simply as a way to round off the album. Now then.. this is where which version of the album you buy matters. Should you the original version, the album will end on this song. To me, it feels quite 'sudden' and not quite the finale you'd expect, seeming as its just a collection of sounds from their songs. However, should you buy the version with the 2 extra tracks, you'll get 'But Not Tonight' which is a beautiful way to end the album, and can be imagined with alot of passion for 2 young lovers. The only downside? The final bonus track! A very, very,... very dull song which isn't worth listening to.
Verdict? This may not be renowned by music critics as a defining album of the albums (I can't think why) but all Mode fans will know just how powerful it is. It stil retains the quality it once did, and still gives you that extra buzz on a night in. Pure Genious!
on 29 October 2001
Depeche Mode changed forever with the release of their classic 1986 release, Black Celebration. Keyboard virtuoso Alan Wilder has his classically-trained imprint written all over this album while Martin Gore's lyrics are as cutting as ever and David Gahan's vocals, while perhaps a little overproduced, are the icing on the Black Forest Gateau. Oh, and Andrew Fletcher probably made some very nice cups of tea.
This was also one of the first albums which took the art of sound sampling to an extreme, creating broad cinematic audio vistas and superbly sculpted thematic landscapes, with each track blending effortlessly into the next. You'll also find some of the weirdest sounds ever heard on a mainstream album, although to categorise Black Celebration as 'mainstream' would be pushing a point. That's not to say there are no great songs or tunes onboard. Every track is a classic and as different from one another as they can possibly be, but highlights must be the sweeping Here Is The House, the epic Stripped, the breakneck Question of Time, the poignant pop of New Dress, the supercharged title track and of course the live favourite, Fly On The Windscreen. However, it would be best to stick to the original version of this album, ie, the version without the bonus tracks, which are at best pretty second-rate (But Not Tonight is like something from their poppy 1982 offering A Broken Frame and thus is totally out of context with the rest of the album).
This is not an album for the faint-hearted and upon first inspection it may sound a tad, well, depressing. However, upon repeated listenings, the sheer uplifting and unnerving power of this album shines through, an album which has influenced more bands than I can care to mention here.
From here-on-in, DM were treated with a lot more respect by the music press, although it has to be said that much of their domestic fanbase lost interest while at the same time the US and Europe really began to jump onboard (although they were always a force in Europe), culminating with stadium rock-god status towards the end of the MFTM tour in 1988 and for several years thereafter.
Longtime fans differ as to what their favourite Mode album is. Violator, Songs of Faith & Devotion, Music For The Masses are all fabulous albums in their own right, but none of these can equal the sheer quality and intensity that is Black Celebration, the album that really 'made' Depeche Mode, their finest work to date and one of the finest albums of the last 15 years.
on 2 November 2007
And so DM slid gently into the abyss. Dark, moody, miserable, brooding ... but utterly brilliant and largely original.
Stuffed with top tracks (there's a higher concentration of their best stuff here than any other album) and almost no 'we're bored but need to use up time or indulge Alan' filler.
BC itself is a great track - full of the ways DM were going into introspection of themselves and their world. Fly On The Windscreen is a deft piece of social commentary - 'death is everywhere - like a fly on the windscreen' spells out the futility of life in their eyes. A Question Of Lust is a precursor to the later Strangelove, one about lust in the third person and the other about guilt in the first.
As I recall, the tour gigs for this album opened with 'Stripped', a glorious soaring, extended, intro accompnaied by a lighting rig sunrise that defied the meaning of the lyrics. The sound of the engine starting tore holes in your midriff if you were near the front - as I was, several times. A fantstic show opener that's still fresh in the memory twenty-odd years on. Music has to be pretty darn good to be that memorable.
Looking back, the slide into darkness was frightening for Modies. We never knew if the next offering would be the last, such was the obvious range of problems they were having. Would one of them overdose? Would they split? How bad was their depresssion? Who could tell?
BC is another classic DM album, and another step into their journey of gritty realism and drug-fuelled misery. If you listen to this, loud, when your girlfriend's left you and you're half way down a bottle of Jack Daniels, make sure you leave a note in case you the atmosphere gets the better of you.
What fun for the rest of us, though .....
There's something about this album that has somehow defied 21 years of the time that has elapsed since it's creation.
Perhaps it's the incredible remix job on the dvd mixes in 5.1. Maybe it's the dense atmosphere during recording. Or more likely a combination of the aforementioned, plus the fact that these songs got the "personal lyrics mixed with actually quite uplifting music" axiom absolutely spot on.
Don't get me wrong; VIOLATOR is a great collection of songs and an excellent album but THIS came first, and it sounds more raw, more punchier and less...commercially oriented. It's a very personal and possibly self indulgent work. I actually originally heard this AFTER I'd soaked myslef in violator and music for the masses, and was really blown away by the whole package. In some ways, this is a better descendant to lead up to violator.
the remix work done on the 5.1 mixes, the documentary, the power inherant on repeated listens....this IMHO is almost perfect ( only the dated reference to "princess di" shows the 80's roots), but otherwise the uniqueness of the sounds - thanks to the trimuverate producing and programming as per SOME GREAT REWARD and CONSTRUCTION - and production make it stand up today.
Bolshy, Powerful and near damn perfect...pick up a copy now!
on 31 July 2004
Black Celebration is one of the finest Depeche Mode albums ever to have been released (Second only to Violator in my opinion). But one of the biggest debates is which version is better? The original UK LP ends with "New Dress", a very dark and bleak song that takes stabs at societies vanities as well as the many sick and twisted shortcomings we evoke amongst ourselves (i.e. murder, famine, ect.).
After listening to the entire album and having it end with this song, you can't help but fall into a state of melancholy (or "depressed mode" as it were), which is fine if that's where you want to go. But the US version of Black Celebration offers a different solution. Unlike the UK version, the US release ends with "But Not Tonight", a song about hope and redemption. Purists will of course scoff that it was never intended to become the final track on the album, and was only recorded as the b-side to Stripped. Many also view it as too "positive" a song, that doesn't fit with the rest of the album ideology (kind of like the theatrical cut of Blade Runner with the tacked on happy ending).
While we're all entitled to our own opinions, I gotta say that there is merit in having this track included at the end. It really comes down to how you want to feel after you've listened to the whole album. For me, "But Not Tonight" is like a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. While life may seem hopeless and out of control at times, there is still some good in this world to look forward to. When you listen to that song after experiencing all of the darkness and pain that comes before it, you can't help but feel a sense of calming relief. A sense of hope for the future. Pessimists will dismiss all of this to be sure, but it still won't change the fact that this is a very strong and powerful song that many still admire to this day.
Now the UK CD of Black Celebration does include some bonus tracks, including the Extended Remix of "But Not Tonight". This version doesn't quite have the same impact the version on the US CD has, which is along the lines of the original 7" single mix, but with a cleaner, thinner sound & less reverb. Those simple changes make all the difference in the world and are worth having, plus, aside from Canada, Mexico, Brazil & South Africa, the US is the only place you can find it recorded this way officially (If you really want a version that has no bonus tracks and ends with "New Dress", seek out the CD from Italy CDOR 9212). Other subtle differences include the loud "click" at the beginning of "Stripped", which is not heard on the US version, & the opening riff from "A Question Of Time" is played twice instead of just once like on the UK edition.
Again, it all comes down to your own personal tastes. Black Celebration is still a tremendous and powerful experience nonetheless. It's just up to you to decide whether the journey ends on a positive note...or a dark one.
Black Celebration - A Masterpiece.
"A Brief...Period...Of Rejoicing" - Daniel Miller
on 11 June 2009
Mute Records don't include the SACD version in the re-edition March 16, 2009 despite it has the same reference number (DMCD5) Double CD album.
I keep this release becouse Im from Argentina, and is to expensive return it to Amazon.co.uk
Black Celebration spoke to the marginalised, persecuted and insecure. Pionnering sampling thanks to Alan Wilder the band's grafter who estabished their post Vince Clark sound and Martin Gore whose lyrics were realised by Dave Gahan in a deeply memorable way.