Music for the Masses

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Music for the Masses
Depeche Mode - Music for the Masses.png
Studio album by Depeche Mode
Released 28 September 1987 (1987-09-28)
Recorded February – July 1987
Length 44:04
Label Mute
Depeche Mode chronology
Black Celebration
(1986)Black Celebration1986
Music for the Masses
Singles from Music for the Masses
  1. "Strangelove"
    Released: 13 April 1987
  2. "Never Let Me Down Again"
    Released: 24 August 1987
  3. "Behind the Wheel"
    Released: 28 December 1987
  4. "Little 15"
    Released: 16 May 1988

Music for the Masses is the sixth studio album by the English electronic music band Depeche Mode. It was released on 28 September 1987 by Mute Records, and was supported by the Music for the Masses Tour.

Album development[edit]

Daniel Miller, who had produced Depeche Mode's previous album, voluntarily stepped away from production duties for this album, citing the growing tension in the studio that they had experienced during the recording of Black Celebration.[3] With Miller's approval, the band co-produced the album with David Bascombe, who had previously worked as a recording engineer with Tears for Fears and Peter Gabriel.[4]

Band members Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore both explained the album's title was conceived as a joke. Fletcher said, "The title's ... a bit tongue-in-cheek, really. Everyone is telling us we should make more commercial music, so that's the reason we chose that title."[4] According to Gore, the title "was a joke on the uncommerciality of [the album]. It was anything but music for the masses!"[5]

Cover art[edit]

The megaphone (or its iconic representation) on the album's cover was used during the breadth of the album's release: at press events, on the covers of the album's singles, and during the tour. Alan Wilder gave credit to Martyn Atkins, who had been a longtime Depeche Mode collaborator, for the use of the megaphone. "[Martyn came] up with this idea of a speaker, but, to give the kind of ironic element which the title has, to put this speaker in a setting which wasn't really to do with the masses at all. It was, in fact, the opposite. So you end up with this kind of eerie thing where you get these speakers or megaphones in the middle of a setting that doesn't suit it at all, like a desert or whatever."[4] The deserted natural setting in question being Peak District.[6]

An early alternative cover was rejected for the album. The rejected cover was also designed by Martyn Atkins and a test pressing copy was auctioned off by Alan Wilder in 2011.[7]


In 2006, Music for the Masses became one of the first Depeche Mode albums (along with Speak & Spell and Violator) to be released on a special 2-Disc SACD/CD Hybrid + DVD format, in the vein of their 2005 album Playing the Angel, which had a limited edition SACD + DVD release. The format was the same as Playing the Angel's, the first disc had a special digitally remastered version of the album, while the DVD had the album on three formats (PCM Stereo, 5.1 surround sound and DTS 5.1) plus bonus tracks, and a documentary on the album. The re-release preserves the album as it was originally intended. Thus, the four bonus tracks do not appear on the SACD, but appear on the DVD. The DVD also features all B-sides from the Music for the Masses era, but unlike the album and the bonus tracks, the B-sides are only available in PCM Stereo.

The documentary, a thirty-seven-minute short film called Depeche Mode: 1987–88 (Sometimes You Do Need Some New Jokes) is an extensive look at the album, featuring commentary from a wide variety of people, including the current Depeche Mode, former member Alan Wilder, producer Dave Bascombe, Daniel Miller, Daryl Bamonte, Martyn Atkins (who came up with the loudspeakers idea for the cover), Anton Corbijn, and others. The documentary features new facts on the album, and also an extensive look at the film 101.

The re-release was released on 3 April 2006 in Europe. The US version was delayed to 2 June 2006 and is only available on a CD + DVD format, with no SACD. The DVD on all the versions are region independent however, so one can simply import the SACD version without worrying about the DVD being incompatible. The remastered album was released on "deluxe" vinyl 2 March 2007 in Germany and 5 March 2007 internationally.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[8]
The Austin Chronicle4/5 stars[9]
Q4/5 stars[11]
Record Mirror4/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[14]
Sounds4/5 stars[15]
Spin Alternative Record Guide7/10[16]
The Village VoiceB+[17]

The album mostly received favourable reviews upon release. Robert Christgau complimented the abnormal road symbolism of the lyrics, particularly on "Little 15", and believed that apart from the sadomasochistic metaphors, Depeche Mode succeeded in turning "adolescent Weltschmerz into something catchy, sexy and seemingly significant".[18] NME's Jane Solanas felt Gore was "at his obsessive best" on Music for the Masses, particularly on "Never Let Me Down Again", which she called "an intriguing masterpiece, combining homo-eroticism with drug euphoria."[19] In a less enthusiastic review, Paul Mathur from Melody Maker was ambivalent towards the group's more mature, minimalist aesthetic and said although they had departed from their simpler pop sound, the record was "seamless, fluid, and, once the lights are out, particularly dull."[20]

In a retrospective review, Q magazine found the narratives on Music for the Masses to be among Depeche Mode's most uncertain and contemplative, and that most of its songs were "real diamonds in the darkness ... this was the point at which Depeche Mode were first taken seriously."[11] Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani said that Music for the Masses showed the gloomier side of the "post-punk synthpop" scene during the 1980s and was a success with both critics and consumers.[21]Alternative Press called the record "articulate, intricate electronic music that lacked the tinny feel of DM's early synth pop".[22] Music for the Masses was listed by Slant Magazine at number 75 on their list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[23]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Martin Gore except where noted.

Side one
1."Never Let Me Down Again"4:47
2."The Things You Said"4:02
5."Little 15"4:18
Side two
1."Behind the Wheel"5:18
2."I Want You Now"3:44
3."To Have and to Hold"2:51
5."Pimpf / Interlude #1" (hidden track, starts at 4:18)5:00
  • On the CD, there is a 20-second pause in between "Pimpf" and "Interlude #1", followed by a 30-second pause in between "Interlude #1" and "Agent Orange".
  • On some copies of the cassette the album is presented on side 1 with the four bonus tracks comprising the entirety of side 2.

2006 re-release[edit]

  • Disc 1 is a hybrid SACD/CD with a multi-channel SACD layer.
  • Disc 2 is a DVD containing Music for the Masses in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo plus bonus material
Short film
1."Depeche Mode 87–88 (Sometimes You Do Need Some New Jokes)"37:02


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Music for the Masses.[1]

  • Depeche Mode – production
  • Martyn Atkins – design, photography
  • David Bascombe – engineering, production
  • Mark Higenbottam – design, photography
  • David Jones – design, photography
  • Daniel Miller – additional production, help



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
France (SNEP)[39] Platinum 400,000*
Germany (BVMI)[40] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[42] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Music for the Masses (CD liner notes). Depeche Mode. Mute Records. 1987. CDSTUMM47. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Josh; Martin, Garrett (September 8, 2016). "The 50 Best New Wave Albums". Paste. Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  3. ^ ""It's almost too personal": Daniel Miller contemplates the Depeche Mode catalogue". 2013-03-27. Retrieved 2015-12-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Miller, Jonathan, Stripped: Depeche Mode, Music Sales Group 
  5. ^ Maconie, Stuart (17 February 1990). "Sin Machine". NME: 34–35. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Omega Auctions: The Alan Wilder / Depeche Mode Collection: DM 'Music for the Masses' Album with Very Rare Recalled Album Sleeve". Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Music for the Masses – Depeche Mode". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Gray, Christopher (25 August 2006). "Depeche Mode, the Cure, and the Jesus & Mary Chain". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Abebe, Nitsuh (20 July 2006). "Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell / Music for the Masses / Violator". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Depeche Mode: Music for the Masses". Q. London (105): 135. June 1995. ... has its dark, gloomy secrets and layered soundtrack grooves to support some of the groups' most self-conscious and self-questioning storylines ... Most of the songs ... are real diamonds in the darkness ... this was the point at which Depeche Mode were first taken seriously. 
  12. ^ Levy, Eleanor (3 October 1987). "Depeche Mode: Music for the Masses". Record Mirror. London. 
  13. ^ "Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell / Music for the Masses / Violator". Rolling Stone. New York: 74. 2006. 
  14. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Depeche Mode". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 229–30. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  15. ^ Wise, Damon (3 October 1987). "Music For The Pop Charts". Sounds. London. 
  16. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (26 January 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 1988). "Playboy Music". Playboy. Chicago. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  19. ^ Solanas, Jane (3 October 1987). "Basildon Bondage". NME. London. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  20. ^ Mathur, Paul (3 October 1987). "Rubber Bullets". Melody Maker. London. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (2 November 2002). "Depeche Mode: Music for the Masses". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Depeche Mode: Music for the Masses". Alternative Press. Cleveland: 200. 
  23. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  25. ^ "Depeche Mode – Music For The Masses" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  26. ^ "RPM100 Albums". RPM. 47 (14). 23 January 1988. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  27. ^ "Depeche Mode – Music For The Masses" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  28. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1987 par InfoDisc" (in French). InfoDisc. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "Depeche Mode, Music For The Masses" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "Gli album più venduti del 1987" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  31. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  32. ^ "Depeche Mode – Music For The Masses". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Depeche Mode – Music For The Masses". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "1987 Top 40 Official Albums Chart UK Archive". Official Charts Company. 10 October 1987. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Depeche Mode – Chart history: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Top 40 album-, DVD- és válogatáslemez-lista – 2013. 19. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  37. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLiS - Official Retail Sales Chart". OLiS. Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  38. ^ "Depeche Mode – Chart history: Billboard 200 Albums (Year end)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  39. ^ "French album certifications – Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select DEPECHE MODE and click OK
  40. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Depeche Mode; 'Music for the Masses')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  41. ^ "British album certifications – Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses". British Phonographic Industry. 5 October 1987.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter Music for the Masses in the search field and then press Enter.
  42. ^ "American album certifications – Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses". Recording Industry Association of America. 1 February 1991.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH