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Free Love
Free Love
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Price: CDN$ 79.14
5 used & new from CDN$ 30.89

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 song, 2 producers, and a B-side, May 12 2004
This review is from: Free Love (Audio CD)
This single is unique in that the title mix is done by a different producer than that of the album. Flood, producer for Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion, has remixed Freelove for the single. For the Exciter album, Depeche Mode was going for a more minimalistic sound than their previous work, and the hiring of a new producer, Mark Bell, seemed to reflect that. So when I heard Flood did the single mix of Freelove, I was interested to hear how the two different producers handled the same song.
One might have assumed from the other work Flood has mixed, that his mix of Freelove would be a returned to the more layered and dark sound of Depeche Mode. Surprisingly, Flood took the track in an even more minimalistic direction than Mark Bell's version. At the same time, the mood does come off as darker and more like DM's previous sound. The change is subtle, but nice to hear. While some people may find the difference minor and inconsequential, if you're interested in the production process of Depeche Mode's music, you will enjoy hearing it.
The B-side, Zenstation, is similar to Depeche Mode's other post-80's instrumental b-sides, like Slowblow, off the It's No Good single, Headstar from Only When I Loose Myself, or Painkiller from Barrel of a Gun. It is also similar to the track Easy Tiger from the Exciter album; in fact at first when it started playing without looking at the track list I thought it was a remix of Easy Tiger.
However, it is probably one of the best songs in this sub-category of Depeche Mode's work. Instrumentals like this tend to be fairly minimalistc and repetative, however Zenstation keeps the listener well engaged the entire time, shifting in focus periodically between synths, percussion, guitar, Martin's vocals, and even violins to pan out the duration of the song. Realy, I think it's their best instrumental B-side since Agent Orange.
Unfortunately, the edition I got from one of Amazon's used dealers is missing the 3 extra remixes of Freelove, so I can't judge the single as a whole. Let this be a recomendation to you to make sure you know what you're buying if you're interested in this single and decide to buy it used. Check to see that the copy you're ordering has the full 6 tracks and not just 3.
Anyway, if you're collecting DM's B-sides, you will probably get this single anyway. But, again, I would also recomend this to any fans of Flood's work or anyone who is curious about DM's mixing process. It makes you wonder what Exciter might have sounded like if the whole thing were mixed by Flood, though I don't mean to devalue Mark Bell at all; I'm just curious about how things might have been different. For DM's next single, they should get Alan Wilder to do the remix!

Price: CDN$ 10.00
118 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Horibly Underated, March 24 2004
This review is from: Pop (Audio CD)
Most people write this album off as "U2 trying to be a techno band." This is a stupid statement, and if people saw beyond the marketing image of the album and listened to the actual music, they would realise that there is only one song that would really be called techno; track #3, "Mofo", and through the rest of the album it is really just rock with some electronic overlays for effect. Immediately after "Discoteque" and "Mofo", "Staring at the Sun" makes thing undeniably 'rock' and no one in their right mind would call it techno. Then it moves on to "If God Will Send His Angels", which is a new spin on their former more folk oriented style, and then as the album progresses it becomes gradually darker and more downbeat, from the agressive "Miami" to the melancholy "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" and the forlorn "Wake Up Dead Man".
U2 had allready been using electronic elements in their music for years before "Pop", with albums like "Zooropa" and "Actung Baby". Producers like Flood and Brian Eno had helped them use these elements to give the music a more dramatic and intense edge, and in my opinion, it was really evolving U2's music and took it beyond the level of the feel good, folky, arena rock pop songs U2 became famous for in the late 80's, to make something more emotional and complex. This improvement really showed in Achtung Baby, and in Pop they pushed it further and created what I think is the album with the most emotional range and dramatic punch of U2's career.
Unfortunately they decided to slap this "pop" "techno" "discotec" label and look on it, and suddenly everyone wrote U2 off as "selling out" when in reality fan favorites like The Joshua Tree were much more "pop" oriented. The whole "pop" image was probably meant as a sort of sarcastic parody of U2's own sucess, but the joke went right over the public's head and they suddenly saw U2 as "technopop eurotrash".
Now, as a result, we have "All that you Can't Leave Behind" in which U2 recoils from the bad reception of "Pop" by merely rehashing the folky arena rock style that made them famous instead of actually trying to do something new and different. However, perceptive listeners with an open mind can be treated to one of the hidden gems of the popular music industry, and enjoy what is perhaps U2's best work. Give it a chance and you might like it...a lot.

Condemnation - Maxi
Condemnation - Maxi
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise, Feb. 8 2004
This review is from: Condemnation - Maxi (Audio CD)
Originally I only bought this cd cause I found it $3 used at my local record store. Condemnation is not the most exciting song on SOFD, and the B-side, Death's Door, was just remix, and I had allready attained a copy of the original mix elsewhere. Once I listened to it though, I was glad I bought it.
There are 2 different versions of Comdemnation on this single; paris mix, and a live cut. Neither are extremely different from the album version, but the vocals are different, with more backup vocals coming a choir DM hired for their Devotional tour, instead of just Martin Gore. Like I said, not terribly exciting, but it's kinda nice to hear different takes on the song.
Then there's 2 different remixes of Rush. The 'spiritual guidance mix' is a more aggressive version of the original, with more pronounced percussion, additional synth lines, and a generally more pumped up, industrial sound. The nitrate mix is an instrumental version, with more of a "techno" sound to it. It gets somewhat repetative, especially with its "oomp oomp oomp" beat, but it is an insteresting exploration of the song's ambience and instrumentation.
I imagine many fans are not familiar with Death's Door as it was originally released on the soundtrack of the movie "Until the End of the World" and not on a DM album or single. Well, instead of buying a full album movie soundtrack with a bunch of extra songs you don't want, you're better off going with the Condmentation single. The jazz mix has all the elements of the original mix, but is longer, with more guitar work, sax synths and other instrumental elements. It essentially makes the original obsolete, and I don't think you're missing anything by only owning the remix.
Finally, there are live cuts of the songs Halo and Enjoy the Silence, from Violator. Normally, I disregard live versions, as they tend to be just like the album cuts but with distractions like screaming fans, echo, and in DM's case, Dave yelling stuff at the crowd instead of singing. Well, these 2 tracks changed my opinion.
Halo's arrangement is only slightly different than the original, but it has more "punch" to it. It feels louder, Dave's voice is much deeper and more low pitched, and some of the crowd noise and Dave's yells actually enhance the mood of the song. My only complaint is that Martin's voice is barely audible, so there is less harmony than the original, but it is made up for in the energetic tone of the track.
Enjoy the Silence has a much different arangement than the original mix. It starts out with a different beat, has some additional synth lines, and of course being live the vocals are completely new. Like in Halo, Dave's voice is lower, and this time Martin is very loud, singing in a higher pitch which complements Dave well. Then there's the coolest part, there's a guitar solo! DM is not normally a band for guitar solo's, but this one is done well and fits excellently into the song. It's deffinitely a pleasant surprise, particularly since it doesn't apear in any other mixes of the song, even on the Enjoy the Silence single.
Overally this single was a good buy. Comdemnation isn't my favorite DM hit, but Death's Door is a good addition to a DM fan's b-side collection, and the remixes of Rush and live songs are enjoyable to listen to when you get tired of the original cuts or feel like listening to something with a little more energy.

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