CLASSIC ALBUMS: DEPECHE MODE – SPEAK AND SPELL (1981) [REVIEW]

There are numerous landmarks achieved with this, the debut album of synth-pop combo, Depeche Mode. Released by Mute Records, it was a rare genuine indie album for its time. Speak and Spell contained also many songs which were amongst the first electronic numbers heard on the airwaves e.g. “New Life”, “Just Can’t Get Enough” and my personal favourite, “Dreaming of Me”. The use of synthesizers instead of the usual guitar, bass and drums instrumentation was so refreshing back in 1981. But what made the music of early Depeche Mode so memorable and timeless are the brilliant songs. Pop songs filled with hooks that captured the imagination of the post-punk generation, and taking Kraftwerk’s uncompromising electronic agenda to its logical conclusion. The album was also the only Depeche Mode LP with then-prinicipal songwriter Vince Clarke (who’d go on with further success with Yazoo, The Assembly and Erasure). Martin Gore would come to the fore in Clarke’s absence, turning the outfit towards the darker material it would become world famous for in subsequent years. Three decades later, thanks to the post-punk revival, Speak and Spell is as relevant as it ever was. Essential.

POWER OF POP INTERVIEW: SIMON TOWNSHEND

Simon Townshend released one of the more intriguing albums of 2012, the under-rated Looking Out, Looking In. We were fortunate and privileged to be able to pose a couple of questions to Townshend via email and we set out his responses below.

As a musician/recording artist, has being the younger brother of Pete Townshend been an advantage or disadvantage and why so?

I think it works both ways. I suppose I have a lot to live up to, especially when some people expect so much of me. Having said that my name has opened a few doors that would have perhaps remained shut. I am really proud of my brother and have always loved his music / lyrics – The Who are one of my all time favourite bands. However, I have many other musical influences and my sound is unique. I think once people realise that the sibling association takes a back seat they will judge me on my own merits. At the end of the day it’s down to me and my music to win music lovers over.

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