Depeche Mode’s remarkable 1980s non-album singles and B-sides

My introduction to British electronic band Depeche Mode was through the video for the brilliant single Everything Counts, from their 1983 album Construction Time Again.  It was strikingly unlike anything I’d heard before and made me an instant fan.  To this day they’re one of my favorite bands.  Very few artists in popular music have created such a singularly distinctive sound, or sustained such a prolific and distinguished career.

In the 80s I devoted unreasonable proportions of my hard-won teenager’s income to obsessively collecting every release in Depeche Mode’s catalog (as best a suburban California kid could do, pre-internet) which led to uncovering quite a lot of lesser-known gems.  As the band are currently promoting a series of boxed sets of reissued singles from their early career, I’m struck by how much of their best work in the 80s could only be found on singles.

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My peculiar experience with a crazy person

A man has been impersonating me on Twitter with a spoof account he created to punish me. This has, regrettably, affected a number of friends and professional colleagues, and I am trying to stop it. (Twitter has a policy prohibiting impersonation intended to deceive others, and I have reported the spoof. So far, they are still allowing it.) [UPDATE: On the morning of March 5, Twitter finally suspended the spoof account.]

Several people I know have inquired about the story behind this, so I am publishing the entire wretched debacle here.

It began when this man (to whom I will refer as Crazy Person, not his actual name) sent a message to my Berklee email account. At the time, of course, I didn’t realize he was mentally ill (although in hindsight the clues are obvious)…

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Why I will never see the film ‘Titanic’

Apparently Leonardo DiCaprio is in it.

It all started quite innocently.

The twentieth century was coming to an end. James Cameron’s insanely expensive 1997 romance/disaster film Titanic was the biggest thing ever, dazzling housewives and teenage girls everywhere and out-grossing every other perfectly respectable highest-grossing-movie-ever by a comfortable margin.

It was the first film ever to earn more than a billion dollars at the box office. It won eleven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and scores of other awards. Celine Dion had a worldwide #1 megahit (and a Grammy, of course) with that wretched song, and the (mostly orchestral) soundtrack album sold over eleven million copies in the U.S. alone. The TV ads were relentless. People wouldn’t shut up about it. The film was #1 for fifteen consecutive weeks in the U.S. (still a record) and stayed in theaters for the better part of a year. It held the record for highest worldwide box office for twelve years — until Cameron’s own Avatar beat it in 2010.

I didn’t see it.

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Stop telling me the album is dead.

broken record
Is it over?

Analysts and commentators in the music business are a gloomy bunch. Dogged by devils around every corner, they’ve foretold the death of their industry since its birth. Rapid changes in the way musical product is composed, recorded, manufactured and distributed — brought about by constantly advancing technology — have made the record business a tumultuous one, giving recording companies plenty of reasons to worry along the way. Now, many believe technology finally is bringing about the end of the recording industry, and that its first victim is the album format that dominated the second half of the twentieth century.

They are wrong, again.

Read moreStop telling me the album is dead.