Depeche Mode - Speak and Spell

A look back at classic albums from rock history, this time Depeche Mode with its debut album, Speak and Spell from 1981. Released by pioneering indie label Mute Records in the United Kingdom.

Depeche Mode are an English electronic music band formed in Basildon in 1980. The group now consists of a trio of Dave Gahan (lead vocals and co-songwriting), Martin Gore (keyboards, guitar, co-lead vocals and main songwriting) and Andy Fletcher (keyboards). This well-received debut album was the only release recorded with founding member, Vince Clarke, who also wrote most of the songs found here.

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. Speak and Spell 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. Amazingly, Depeche Mode would even conquer America as an arena (electro) rock band! Three decades later, thanks to the post-punk revival, Speak and Spell is as relevant as it ever was. Essential.

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