REDUX: Record Review: Depeche Mode – Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead

blast-from-the-past-header

August 23, 2012

Flexipop | UK | Flexi | 1981 | FLEXIPOP 011

Various Artists: Flexipop #11 UK Flexidisc [1981]

  1. Depeche Mode: Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead [ver. 2]
  2. Fad Gadget: King Of The Flies [remix]

I remember hearing about Depeche Mode by the Fall of 1981. Synthesizer music was popping out of the woodwork by that time, so I was a busy guy, keeping up with the tidal wave. I bought “Speak + Spell” on US Sire as soon as it hit the shops. It was an okay album that didn’t set my world on fire by any stretch of the imagination. The band seemed to be about 1-2 years younger than I was at the time and boy did the music sound it. I found “Speak + Spell” good enough to listen to occasionally, but it wasn’t compelling.

SFX Publishing | UK | Cassette | 1982 | SFX04A few months later in January of 1982, I caught a glimpse of a new C-60 music magazine tailor made for the new Walkman® era were were now living in. Straight from Blighty, it was jam packed with all of the bands who were making the music that was on my tape deck at all hours. The first issue I bought was number four, which had a cover story on the Human League, who had just conquered the non-American portion of the world at this point. The tape also had hitmakers OMD, Steve Strange, and Depeche Mode on it, so purchase was a given! The Depeche Mode interview was interesting because the piece had little snippets of music all throughout it to serve as counterpoint to the interview. One such piece was completely unknown to me but was hands down, the catchiest number by far I’d yet to hear from Depeche Mode. I had no idea what the song was called, though.

A few months later, I happened across an issue of Flexipop on the racks and it had Depeche Mode on the cover along with a flexidisc of a track called “Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead.” I didn’t buy at the time since that was money better spent on a record, but a year or two later, I saw just the flexidisc itself in a used bin somewhere and bought it for the pittance being asked. As it turns out “Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead” was the insanely cheerful little number that had turned my head on the issue of SFX #4 months in early ’82. As it transpired, the song was originally on the UK LP of “Speak + Spell” in a different mix called there “I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead,” but American ears weren’t blessed with this wonderful track, with Seymour Stein opting to inflict the 12″ versions of “New Life” and “Just Can’t Get Enough” on us instead of the [superior] original LP mixes. Something had to give in the “mastered for vinyl” era, and this brief, but spectacular pop song, paid the price.

At least I now had the song, albeit on a lo-fi flexidisc. It was enough to tide me over until some time in 1988, when I bought “Speak + Spell” on the superior German CD edition that had five bonus tracks in addition to the original contents of the UK album, including “I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead.” That’s when I found out that the versions were somewhat different with the flexi having the song’s arrangement mixed differently. Either version is the best song from the album and I can only guess at why Sire thought it was worth scrapping for the original US pressing of the album. At least the Rhino remasters of 2007 [vinyl included] have returned the running order of the album to its original UK glory of 1981.

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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18 Responses to REDUX: Record Review: Depeche Mode – Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead

  1. echorich says:

    Thankfully, I have never seen a US copy of Speak & Spell. Never knew there was difference in track listing either, I’m ashamed to say. S&S is an album which initially felt lightweight, but upon reappraisal once VC was out and working with Yazoo, I found it to be much more intriguing than first impressions. I still feel VC saved his greatest work for his collaborations with Alf and also Eric Radcliffe, but the debut DM album is a pretty solid statement of intent.

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  2. nick says:

    Don’t you just LOVE that picture of Dave Gahan on the Flexipop cover ?? So sooo camp its unreal ! SFX cassettes…so many memories there too, it was kind of a radical approach to a magazine and was sometimes hit-and miss. I will have to yet again dig out the 5.1 mixes of Speak & Spell, not that it is always on the racks – it IS one of my favourite DM albums and always will

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      nick – I still live with the West German 1st CD pressing. I never bit on those DLX RMs for DM. And I almost never listen to any of my scant collection of 5.1 music. It’s too restricting to have to sit in the sweet spot for the right effect. Weren’t those DM 5.1s Dual Discs? I have two of the first four Talking Heads on 5.1 Dual Disc.

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  3. nick says:

    i bought all up to Violator and are worth sitting still to listen. I also love the little docu-soaps included on them and yes, i think they are dual/sacds.

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  4. nick says:

    never bought anything SOFAD onwards, except for the odd single – way too much guitar for my liking ! If you do find them, don’t pass them up – well worth it. The earlier ones are the better in my mind just because it gives those early analog synths a new dimension. Same goes with the Yazoo box set, Upstairs At Erics is really really good

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      nick – The only thing I bought after “Violator” was a used copy of “The Best Of Depeche Mode” with the DVD. The new tracks on that weren’t convincing enough to move further. I used to have “Upstairs At Eric’s” on LP but never made the leap to CD for Yazoo. I still have never heard the second album. I held off on Erasure until an in-store playback of “Wild” won me over on a big way. That’s still my go-to Erasure album. Such diversity!

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      • Tim says:

        I feel like the only 80’s fan who doesn’t go nuts to hear Yazoo, especially Situation.
        I don’t get it, never have. There’s a lot of Erasure that I think is a solid entry in 80’s music from Wonderland thru Wild. DM improved….er, wildly since Vince Clarke left and lost it after Alan Wilder left. Vince Clarke has a good sound & I think that the alchemy just wasn’t there in DM Mach 1.0.

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        • echorich says:

          I have to say that Yazoo was so much more than just Situation. Clarke’s synth-disco is completely subversive and Alf’s deep growling alto range only heightens the effect! Didn’t I Bring Your Love down and Goodbye 70’s are in your face and muscular in a way that DM could not achieve – and may not really have achieved to this day. I remember when Yazoo was played in a club like The Peppermint Lounge or Danceteria you could barely move and the dancing was with a certain level of purpose you wouldn’t see the rest of the night.
          There is also a very tender/emotional side to Yazoo. Midnight and Winter Kills are complicated and dark – the later might even be considered early darkwave.
          As much as I love Upstairs At Eric’s, it’s You And Me Both that I always find myself going back to. Clarke and Moyet put their pop hats on here and explored themes of love, joy and loss while upping the synth quotient by leaps and bounds. Clarke even began experimenting with soundscaping on You And Me Both. Nobody’s Diary, is far and away my favorite Yazoo song, Moyet vocal and Clarke composition. It holds a prime place in my Top 50 At 50 list I created last year. To open an album with a song that can make a (this) listener cry is bold. That Clarke and Moyet knew by the time the album was released that their collaboration was ended, give the song even more emotional power.

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          • Tim says:

            I bought both albums (Yazoo) and they never did anything for me. Vince in Erasure? Yup. Alison Moyet on her own? Even more yup. The two together? Flatline for me.

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            • postpunkmonk says:

              Tim – I resisted Erasure for years. At first, when I heard “Who Needs Love Like That” I marveled at how he managed to find a male singer who sounded just like Alison Moyet. I ignored them for years. Then I chanced to hear “Wild” being played in Peaches and I was so taken with it that I bought it on the spot; a first! Then I rode the Erasure bus hard for five years. I can’t say I ever had the slightest bit of curiosity about what Ms. Moyet was up to on her own. I can’t recall ever hearing the first note, actually.

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              • Tim says:

                I am more a fan of the later Alison Moyet material. Essex is a pretty solid album. I was just reading about it on Wikipedia and it sounds like it was a troubled project. I would have never known…this was actually the disk that made me reassess my opinion of her. Voice (a covers album) is quite good if you like that sort of thing. I collect cover versions so it was right up my alley.

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                • Taffy says:

                  Hey Monk…been in Germany and France on an extended break; just now finding wifi and catching up with your posts. Have to throw my 2 cents in regarding Yazoo’s brilliance. Sorry, but I think both albums are amazing early 80’s synthpop perfection. “Situation” moves my ass like most disco never could, but I could substitute nearly anything and respond equally with head, heart and/or hips.

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                  • postpunkmonk says:

                    Taffy – Welcome back to America. My heart aches for you having to endure time spent in lesser countries. My sense of charity selflessly dictates that if I could have somehow gone in your place, I would have made the sacrifice for you even though we are merely casual acquaintances. [ahem]

                    “Situation” is pretty funky sauce, but doesn’t it seem like Eurythmics sort of scooped Yazoo at their game? The whole electronics + soul equation got taken to another level with D+A. And it’s being further developed by Ms. Billie Ray Martin in the last 25 years really quite capably. But I’ve read fascinating reviews of the last Alison Moyet album. Does any one have something cogent to say about it? I’ve not heard any Moyet solo material. What about “The Minutes?” [checks samples online] Hmmmm! Sounds pretty great! I still think that Andy Bell sounds like her, but has Bell ever had a solo track as cool as “Changeling?” Thoughts?

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  5. nick says:

    btw have you seen the gig BRM is doing next month in Berlin ? Really would love to be there for that

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      nick – I get BRM mail but her infrequent shows are always on the wrong continent for me. I’m still hung up on John Foxx. One of these days [and soon, he’s no spring chicken] I have to experience Foxx live. There’s still decades for BRM.

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