Depeche Mode's 1990 album, Violator, is a perfect, dark, moody, and piercingly catchy pop record about sex, drugs, relationships, and God. It was, and it remains, Depeche Mode's finest moment, where the band members found themselves on the cusp of international superstardom. Depeche Mode was to become the first electronic band to achieve rock-star stature, playing stadiums and causing Beatlemania-styled riot action. Between the album's nine perfectly arranged tracks, the mood flows from moonlit loneliness to nightclub sex to its own redemption at the hands of the closer, "Clean." The delicate balance of greatness achieved on Violator is often unparalleled.
Rather than going the route of, say, the reissues of Pavement's Slanted & Enchanted or Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, with their expansive additional material, this reissue of Violator is essentially the same as the original. No additional tracks have been added, and the album's original running order is intact; the "deluxe" part of the CD is in its crisp, restored sound.
However, those interested in the audiophile qualities of this collection should look to the DVD, with its 24-bit sound quality. The DVD also contains the rare material, which is frustrating for those who like their music on the go. Of the B-sides on this bonus disc, the standout is "Dangerous," a great, moody track that bears similarities to "World in My Eyes." Other tracks, such as "Memphisto" or "Sibeling," are purely for the Depeche Mode-obsessed and should otherwise have remained the CD-single fodder they once were. I can't help but wonder why these outtakes were limited to 16-bit-quality audio, or why more of the remixes from this era weren't added to the DVD to make the collection more complete. Unfortunately, Violator wasn't an album that spawned all kinds of memorable outtake material.
Still, the package is worth the price for its short but excellent documentary. "If You Wanna Use Guitars, Use Guitars" provides some interesting insight into the process of recording the album, the crazed riot in L.A. upon its release and ensuing catapulting of the band into U.S. superstardom, and other interesting tidbits of historical info. The band's description of Francois Kevorkian's meticulous fiddling about high-hat sounds is entertaining, as is Anton Corbijn's explanation of his concept for the "Enjoy the Silence" video (where lead singer Dave Gahan is dressed like a king and is sitting on a deck chair on a mountaintop).
This beautifully packaged reissue preserves the colors and flavor of the original release. You can't beat the 5.1 Dolby Surround mix of the album on the DVD, or Corbijn's sharp imagery in the accompanying booklet. Had more new content been added to this collection, it would have been a perfect re-release, but there are enough goodies contained within to warrant another gathering of crazed Depeche Mode fans in the streets of LA. Recent tracks, such as "Precious," have shown a band that's not quite through yet, so perhaps we can get another CD as great as Violator.
Label: http://www.rhino.com/"Photographic" live video
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