on 9 April 2002
I remember with maximum clarity when I slipped Black Celebration into the Walkman on the day of it's release way back in early 1986. I had rushed to town during my lunch break from a dead end, soul destroying job, and from the opening refrain of the opening title track, I knew I would love this album. 14 years on and I'm still playing it. It's tough to pick the definitive Mode album, but Black Celebration is on equal terms with later classics Violator and Songs of Faith. As many have said before me, this is the album that defined Depeche and showed them the path forward. It's darker and heavier than the "goth" label given to it. The album also reaps of sexual tension and the banality of normality voiced so clearly on the classic opening track. When I first saw the track listing, I was somewhat alarmed to see the inclusion of Fly on The Windscreen, the superior B-side to the likable It's Called A Heart. My fears however were swiftly laid to rest with a remix that managed to darken the mood of the much loved original even further. Then came the eerie mix into the atmospheric and touching Question of Lust. I kept playing the opening three tracks over and over. I was really convinced that the single Lust would shoot straight in at number 1 (it amazingly faltered at 26 in the UK charts!). A Question of Time sounded a little harsh on that first listen but I soon grew to adore it. The energy and power of the lead synth's on this track is a credit to the pioneering recording techniques used by Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones. Never had Depeche sounded so good. Here Is The House was another fine electro tune with a superb bassline. Mode always seem to find the perfect synth sounds without ever relying on the built in pre-sets that so many artist's fall back on. The group and producers spent many hours wandering around abondoned industrial sites, sampling anything they could hit. All this extra invention and effort in creating sounds was well worth the man hours. Black Celebration still sounds fantastic on headphones. World Full Of Nothing and Dressed In Black would be highlights on any album. So rich in texture, dark and unsettling. All Mode albums finish with a hidden ace and Black Celebration provides New Dress with it's unforgettable drum pattern and great melody. The CD comes with some bonus tracks that were unlisted on the UK release that includes the oddly cheerful But Not Tonight that was more suited to A Broken Frame. It is however an essential Mode track. Shame that Flood's excellent Highland Mix of Stripped wasn't included instead. That aside, Black Celebration easily reaches my own personal top ten along with Propaganda's Secret Wish, Human League's Dare & NIN's Pretty Hate Machine. And it's true...women look so good in black!
on 4 June 2007
This entire series of re releases has been great but the highlight for me has to be Black Celebration.
As most fans fave DM release, it has certainly stood the test of time and just goes to show how original the lads really were.
Gareth Jones and Daniel Miller took a long time to produce and mix the album but the end result was worth the wait as the sounds still work well and the atmosphere that was created has not been lessened by time.
Standout tracks besides the singles are the title track, as well as Fly on the windscreen which was rescued from the b side of Its called a heart, and given a shot in the arm. Also stunning are the ballads that Martin sings. The 5:1 remix, like all the other re-releases gives a completely new take on the album and sounds totally different to the CD version, a real treat for the ears esp played using DTS.
The Documentary, covering the period 1985-86 is a real bonus as it is almost an hour long compared to the other album documentaries that are about 30 mins in length. The BC docu includes some stunning and rare footage of their 86 world tour, (wouldnt it be great to have it released in its entirity on DVD, hint, hint) as well as studio footage of the making of BC and behind the scenes clips from the relevant videos.
A must buy for fans and newcomers to the band alike.
on 1 May 2009
I was dissapointed by the 5.1 mix. It sounds like the vocals are underwater...can hardly hear DG on Black Celebration. I now have all the albums with the 5.1 version and I feel this one has the weakest remix of the lot. Obviously this is especially dissapointing since I feel that Black Celebration is DM's best album and was really looking forward to getting the DTS version of the album. I resorted to listening to the CD to get clearer vocals as it is annoying. Be sure to get the other albums as they have very strong remixes. It can't be my system because all the other albums sound absolutely superb!
on 7 January 2010
Following hot on the heels of 'Singles 81-85'
which contained the sublime 'Shake The Disease'
and callipso techno 'It's Called A Heart' comes
the album BLACK CELEBRATION an progressive
evolution on 'Some Great Reward'.
The music style and production of this album
is streets ahead of their previous offerings.
'Fly On The Windscreen' formaly a B-side was
grafted into the track list and enhanced the
quality of the album completely.
It's deliciously dark funky beat conjures up
a shadowy nether world of nocturnal naughtiness.
Martin Gore expands on the theme of relationships
'A Question Of Lust' - 'Sometimes' - 'Here Is
The House' and 'It Doesn't Matter Two'.
With 'A Question Of Time' we hear a new disturbing
theme, overtones of paedophilia or maybe an
observation of a 40' something Rolling Stone
dating a 13 year old girl?
'Stripped' is a atmospheric masterpiece,
venting exhasperation as social interaction
starts to wilt in the flood of technology,
and media manipulation.
'Dressed In Black' is a stab at sexual eroticism
before Madonna jumped on the bandwagon.
'New Dress' is a critique of the dawn of 24 hour
Dave Gahan sings about horrific news bulletins
punctuated by the worlds obsession with Princess
Diana's fashion fetish.
Also mentioning votes can change the world, decades
before Muse thought about the idea.
The album has three bonus tracks, the best of which
is 'Breathing In Fumes', now here is a tune that
must have inspired the Chemical Brothers and
Fat Boy Slim.
Oh What A Black Celebration this album is!
on 26 June 2009
On initial release I found this album a bit too heavy to handle, although I liked a lot of the singles taken from it. As a whole it was just so darned intense! My crackly vinyl went awry many years ago and was only replaced this week with an 'unremastered' CD at budget price.
This album improves with age, and I deliberately chose the version with 3 bonus tracks just to opt for the lighter tail-end (if I wanted). The intensity is still there, and tracks like "New Dress" and "Stripped" still sound dramatic even after all this time. I'd got so used to hearing Razormaid! extended re-edit of the former that I'd forgotten how much tighter the album track is! A pivotal moment for the band, even if a inordinate amount of material is sung by Martin (3 tracks in a row on 'side A'). However I still rate "Question Of Lust" as one of his finest, but "Sometimes" as one of his weakest fillers.
So, what is good and bad about this particular release of the album, with the light-coloured emblems on the front colour and the same cat no as the 1990 release? Firstly, it occasionally distorts, or rather picks upsome distortion on source material, such as the car engine effect loop on "Stripped" on the right hand channel, and the slightly annoying digital sounding click on the left hand channel during the intro of the same. Otherwise the sound is pretty good, if a little top-heavy in places. The copy I've got came with original 11 track booklet, so I don't know if that was always the case or whether the extra tracks were listed on the artwork too.
The 3 bonus tracks are nice extras, the extended mix of "But Not Tonight" is the UK 12" EP mix, not the US remix, and isn't half bad. "Black Day" is a short experimental interpretation of snippets from the title track, which actually works quite well as a closing track, and "Breathing In Fumes" is just awesome. One of the rare decent Mode 'dub' mixes, arguably!
This still isn't a favourite of mine, but it's definitely worth adding to the collection, whether this version or one of the 2006/7 remastered issues.
on 20 December 2007
If you are DM fan and never or reluctant to buy one of these remastered series with 5.1 mix then i strongly recommend you to pick this one (Of course, you should play it on SACD player to get the high resolution quality or at least DTS is still far better than Dolby Digital) then you'll be blown away !! The 5.1 mix was superb !! You will get the whole new experience.
It took them a few years to mutate from cheery new romantic types to perves dressed in black- but hey, they did it! As with other albums that signified creative rebirth, this was partly recorded at the famous Hansa studios in (then)West Berlin (the other significant ones are Bowie's Heroes & U2's Achtung Baby).
In 1985 it looked like it was all over for the Mode, rumours of splitting up and sub-standard singles like It's Called a Heart did not bode well for the future (though there had also been the excellent Shake the Disease). Regardless, the finest line-up of the Mode regrouped and made this dark classic with producers Gareth Jones & Daniel Miller (the latter concerned about the bleak sound of the album).
It opens with Black Celebration, that utilises the industrial sampling techniques evident on previous tracks like Pipeline & Something to Do- Gore's songwriting is on peak form here. A Mode classic. Next we have the Final version of Fly on the Windscreen (if you don't count the 1993 version on the In Yr Room single)that compounds the bleak outlook: "death is everywhere/there are flies on the windscreen for a start"- the lyrics remind me of JG Ballard's Crash for some reason...
Martin Gore takes lead vocals on several tracks, the most he's ever sung on an album- single A Question of Lust is one of their finest moments; while Sometimes is a minimal track, a more oblique approach at the territory covered in 1984's classic Somebody. It Doesn't Matter Two (hate that title!) has a scary choral landscape that sounds like Philip Glass scoring an Omen film; a great sequel though...
Gahan returns on A Question of Time, though this version is a bit stodgy compared to the remix released in late 1986- like Something to Do on downers (and with odd Lolitaesque lyrics). The first single Stripped is slightly longer than the single version, though not as epic as the Highland mix. This fades into Here is the House, a gorgeous harpischord driven almost duet between Gahan and Gore- an underrated song in the Mode canon.
Gore returns on World Full of Nothing, which is on his most frequent theme of sex as salvation, very sinister chords are played over a metronomic pulse. Gahan returns on the Mode's most outwardly Brecht/Weil- styled song, Dressed in Black- a low minimal drone and the theme identified by Susan Faludi in Stiffed of submission (Gore would be down on his knees lyrically over the years to come...). New Dress concludes the album in a dark dissection of celebrity culture as reported by the tabloids, juxtaposed with an entropic list of woes across the world (though Gore does get across the validity of voting to a People are People-styled section towards the end!). Sounds very up to the minute, despite Princess Di being deceased- I think the theme of a Big Brother/Heat/celebrity obssessed culture and a backdrop of atrocities to which the majority appear ignorant is timeless stuff...
The extra tracks are Breathing in Fumes, a reworking of Stripped that reminds me of Eric B & Rakim's Lyrics of Fury; the Stripped b-side But Not Tonight- which sounds too like early Mode (even a lyric about 'new life'!) and was disasterously released as a single in America. The bizarre Black Day, written by Gore, Wilder & Miller is up next- sounding like Michael Nyman playing the Wicker Man soundtrack to a blues song. The Mode weren't afraid of going out there!
Black Celebration is an album that I've listened to since it's release in 1986, and along with Violator it is my favourite album of theirs. I know there's the Mode and Soft Cell and Suicide are back, but wouldn't it be nice if a new band blended the perverse with pop?
on 27 December 2000
First of all: You can't put a finger on any of the Depeche Mode albums, and say that this is the archetype of all their albums! Depeche Mode is not a musicstyle, it is continous evolution and development of ideas and insight into life itself! At least it is to me, because I've grown up with their music.
The first DM tape I had, was a copy of "The Singles 81-85", back in 1985, and I remembered "Just Can't Get Enough", "People are People" and "Master and Servant" from listening to the charts. At the time I was not really a fan of DM, but their first compilation grew on me, with it's odd mix of Vince's early, joyful tunes and then Martin's powerful lyrics and darker works.
But when I bought Black Celebration in 1986, I was completely swept away. Especially the opening title-track is still one of their most powerful tracks ever. The second track, "Fly on the Windscreen", was originally the b-side of "It's Called a Heart", form "The Singles...", but was luckily put on "Black Celebration". This album would have been incomplete without it!
All in all; This album has a unique contrast between its lyrics and its sounds, which I don't think you'll find on any other DM album, or on any other album at all. The only bad thing: On the original casette, the last track was "New Dress". They should have put the CD out, without the bonus-/remix tracks, which seem to ruin this masterpiece.
Enjoy the darkness...
on 28 September 2010
I remember purchasing this Remaster/+DVD of BC the day of release as my previous copy was scratched. The sound quality in DTS through my surround sound system brings a whole new dimension to this album, you hear sounds that don't get picked up on the original cd mix. There is also vocal seperation, you can hear Dave from one channel and Martin in another but the whole thing is blended very well.
I know alot of people point to Violator as DM's best album which to a degree I can understand however, for me this is DM at there best. A great blend of non commercial songs, which are very dark and clastrophobic. It's also the last album to be produced by Gareth Jones and Daniel Miller at Hansa Studios, Germany.
If you are looking to buy a DM album I would start with Violator (being more commercial) and then buy Black Celebration, for me they are key albums to start with not to say the others are inferior. Hope this review helps and enjoy!
on 6 September 2014
I bought their first LP fairly soon after its release; I could therefore claim to be a veteran. In those days dark music was found with Love and Rockets, Bauhaus, The Cure, and to some degree John Foxx and a few other synth-oriented groups, like Killing Joke. But DM was not part of that back then, as could already be discovered by looking at their colorful clothes! This disc is their entry to the darker world of rock/electronica, and it is very successful. It will get even better with coming disc, but this is the entry point to their best period. The vinyl stays shut - I play the flac version of my remastered cd sofa, but perhaps one day I will open this one. :-) I probably cannot count on it being worth a whole lot ten or twenty years from now anyway.