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Speak & Spell

3.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 22 1987)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sire-Wbr
  • ASIN: B000002KN8
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,261 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. New Life
2. Puppets
3. Dreaming Of Me
4. Boys Say Go!
5. Nodisco
6. What's Your Name?
7. Photographic
8. Tora! Tora! Tora!
9. Big Muff
10. Any Second Now (Voices)
11. Just Can't Get Enough

Product Description

Product Description

Out of print in the U.S. Digitally remastered two disc (CD + PAL/Region 2 DVD) edition of the British Synthpop band's 1981 album. The CD features the 2007 digital remaster of the original album. The DVD contains a DTS 5.1 mix of the album plus bonus audio tracks and a mini-documentary on the making of the album, The album features 'Just Can't Get Enough', 'New Life', 'Puppets' and more.


It's always good to know where a band came from so you can see how far they've come. Speak and Spell is really the work of Vincent Clarke, who, with Andy Bell, would later form the happy-go-lucky pop-dance megaforce Erasure. And it shows in the catchy, upbeat songs "New Life," "Boys Say Go," "Photographic," and the most famous single, "Just Can't Get Enough." When Martin Gore took over the songwriting, Depeche Mode veered toward a different thematic direction by developing the goth-pop that would become their signature. Still, it's an important album not only because it is Depeche Mode's first but also because it is one of the best representations of early-'80s minimalist synth music. --Beth Bessmer

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Admittedly, this album is, superficially speaking, differently sounding than the rest of their (later) material. But make no mistake: this album adheres to the DM aesthetic in many ways. It forms its own unique niche in the history of this band. And just like all of DM's other classic albums of the mid to late '80s and early '90s, it's superbly inventive, crafted, and produced electronic pop that strives to appeal to the highest common denominator of the record buying public. As one reviewer wrote about this long ago: "DM introduce literacy into bubblegum".
Compared to DM's later efforts, the lyrical content and melodies here are pretty fluffy. But the underlying ideas here are great: Daniel Miller and the band went into the studio with the idea of creating an electronic pop album with a highly minimal Kraftwerkian aesthetic, but also with a poppy sweetness which had never been married to this style of music before. Today the album sounds equally dated and relevant; in other words, great art that not only evokes the time in which it was made but also occupies its own irreplacable spot in this history of this band and perhaps in that of music as a whole.
Some may call me crazy, but I love this album for its classic electronic minimalism a la Kraftwerk, its almost total lack of pretense, and also just for the fact that its a blast to listen to. But I would not recommend this as an introduction to the band for a first time listener as it, while certainly being very good, is neither their best nor a broad overview of Depeche Mode; instead purchase "The Singles 81-85" (which has the three singles released concurrently with "Speak & Spell"), become further acquainted with the band and only then get this album and see it in the context of their later work (and that of other innovative electronic acts of the time like Kraftwerk).
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Format: Audio CD
Yes, it's a masterpiece. It's just their debut but it already exceeds most of its successors (with the exception of Construction Time Again). I don't know why people always tell things like "Good thing that Vince Clarke left so early" and stuff, when he produced such a jewel of Britsh Synth Pop.
We have these happy-go-lucky pop songs like "Just Can't Get Enough" or "New Life", as well as thoughtful songs in minor key e.g."Puppets". And then, my 6 all time favourites, that are even better then various songs from other DM albums.
"Any Second Now(Voices)" sounds a bit like Kraftwerk and it represents Vince's sensitive side, letting Martin Gore take vocals and using the Warm Pad Synth in the (instrumental) chorus.
"I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead" (which appears on this album version) might confuse the listener a bit, as the song is not at all as gloomy as the title would suggest. But nevertheless it's great, due to the simplistic cadences (G-D-C), this leading synth melody that reappaers constantly and the march feeling produced by the moog bass synth line and the militant rythm.
Also the b-sides featured on this album version are great. Take "Icemachine". It's not that happy-go-lucky like its A-Side "Dreaming of Me", but, written in minor key, darker and also rhythmically very interesting, using clapping percussion and puff sounds which make it seem quite rebellious.
And then "Shout" is quite dark for Vince's work and not at all naive and happy. It sounds a little bit exotic according to the heavy rythm devices, and this 'evil' bass synths (modified with phaser effect) that dominates this track makes it quite dark so that the atmosphere of this song stands in contrast to its lyrics.
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Format: Audio CD
This CD has a pretty good selection of tracks on it. That's just my opinion, though, because I am more for the early work of DM than the newer darker stuff. Puppets, Boys Say Go!, and Nodisco have basically the same melody line. Go figure.
1. New Life- Nice bouncy track. Second strongest song on the album. 5/5
2. Puppets- This gives a concept of a person who controls another person's life. Weird. Gore sings. 4/5
3. Dreaming of Me- This song is the strongest on the album. No wonder it's a single. Strong beat, bubblegum flavored. 5/5
4. Boys Say Go!- Basically just another early DM song. It's got a normal rythm for this period. 3/5
5. Nodisco- A song that is just...hmm, let's move on. 2/5
6. What's Your Name?- A happy song?!? What? The exact opposite of later DM songs. Gahan and Gore sing. 3/5
7. Photographic- Here it starts. It was the first song they did under the name Depeche Mode. The Some Bizarre version was better. It leans more into their darker face, but is still decked out with a fast rhythm and countless synthesizers. Gore sings. 4/5
8. Tora! Tora! Tora!- The weakest on the album, I don't listen to it much. 1/5
9. Big Muff- "Popcorn" for the '80s. Instrumental with lots of synthesized SFX. 4/5
10. Any Second Now (Voices)- It's a strange one. It really doesn't have a point. Dark. 3/5
11. Just Can't Get Enough- It is a great listen. It's got a good rhythm, great vocals by Gahan, and an overall wonderful feel to it. 5/5
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Format: Audio CD
Speak and Spell is a great album with happy tunes like "New Life" and guilty pleasures such as "Puppet." The band has admitted influence from Kraftwork, and this is obvious on tracks such as "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "Photographic." One of the greatest things about this album is the variety of sounds included. The length of the CD is not predominantly somber or overly excited. Each track leads you into a different realm, and each transition flows smoothly. I only rated this album as a '4' however, because being a Depeche Mode fan for 15+ years, I can only tell you that their music gets better as time passes. Without the influence of Vince Clarke on subsequent albums, their sound slowly graduates into a soulful and insightful entity. If you enjoy music that walks the line between experimental and schizophrenic (NIN, Ladytron, Radiohead), then be my guest and sample this record. But if you're the type of person who likes to stick to top 40s, mainstream kind of music, "Speak and Spell" may not be for you.
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