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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Multi-Channel Music > Documentary > Depeche Mode – Violator (DVD-Video/CD U.S. Set)

Depeche Mode – Violator (DVD-Video/CD U.S. Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: B+/B     Extras: B-     Music: A-



It was 1990.  New Wave was dead, but Rock was still alive.  The world was in a state of boredom, political troubles and economic troubles it did not need and the record labels were starting to run into new kinds of trouble as money-people who knew little about music were succeeding the talent that made the industry possible.  In all this, Depeche Mode was one of the great bands, but never had the kind of huge success a band that talented or savvy deserved.  Violator changed all that, with huge hit classics like Personal Jesus, Enjoy The Silence and Policy Of Truth.  It would turn out to be their biggest commercial success and remains a strong critical and fan favorite.


A new double set of the album has arrived with new multi-channel mixes of the classics, some bonus material and more on the album’s 15th anniversary.  Flood joined the band to produce and a new second era of the band was in full swing, taking them from a great albums and singles band (People Are People, Master & Servant) to a powerhouse equal to that of U2 or any other band in the genre.  The songs here include:


1)     World In My Eyes

2)     Sweetest Perfection

3)     Personal Jesus

4)     Halo

5)     Waiting For The Night

6)     Enjoy The Silence

7)     Policy Of Truth

8)     Blue Dress

9)     Clean



Between the amazing musicianship and lead singer David Gahan’s grossly underrated vocals, the band could have continued being a singles act and fallen into obscurity or just become a spoof of itself.  Instead, they were always pushing boundaries and capturing in the music and lyrics deep personal insights like few other bands of the 1980s and 1990s ever did.  Every song here is a winner and that a whole album could be so great or that this is what bands used to strive for is amazing and seems so distant, but it was not that long ago music used to be this great all the time.  Now, most people could care less.


There has always been a no-B.S. counterculture attitude in their music that was always fascist-free and real in ways that only the most mature human beings could grasp, yet their youngest audiences always caught onto how for-real they were being.  No wonder they attract so many solid fans, because this is what the best bands are all about and accomplish.  There is also a freedom of sex in their music and attitude that does not have to try so hard, including a constant theme about human contact that seems lost on most songwriters today.  In songs like Clean and Personal Jesus, what such contact means is more explicit, but they are savvy enough to know sex is more than just intercourse, physical contact is never as easy to trivialize as the desensitized tout and people are deeper than they ever get credit for.  The album is aptly named.


The 1.78 X 1 image on the DVD-Video documentary is mixed like the typical documentary, but is pretty good under the circumstances and offers regular surround sound.  The music alone sounds even better.  On the PCM 16bit/44.1kHz CD, the music sounds as good as it ever has in its classic mixes, though the U.K. versions have DSD 5.1 and 2.0 Super Audio CD tracks.  The DVD-Video has the same PCM tracks, but with 48kHz and 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS 96/24 versions of the 5.1 from the SACD, all off of the original master tapes.  The 2-channel versions are fine, but the new 5.1 mixes will surprise fans with their stunning fidelity and unveiling of details, depth and nuances in the classic recordings that reaffirm the greatness of the band, as well as how ahead of their time they still are.  If the DTS 96/24 is this stunning, one wonders how the DSD SACD tracks must sound.


Extras include the six bonus tracks, the DVD-Video has a great documentary about the making of the album Depeche Mode: 1989 – 1990 (If you want to use guitars, use guitars) and includes interviews with producers, engineers, the band members then and now, plus their groundbreaking Music Video director Anton Corbijn, who has a great collection of his work including some of their best clips as sampled in this special.  The look of his videos only enhanced the great music.  You can read more about that at:





There is also a lyrics booklet that has a new opening essay and tech notes about the set.  This is one of three such sets released in the U.K. as SACD/DVD-Video and in the U.S. as CD/DVD-Video along with Speak & Spell and Music For The Masses.  Mute, Reprise & Rhino have done a great job here and we can only hope this band and other great acts like them get the same treatment soon.  Don’t miss this set.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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