Meanwhile, Rhino's ongoing reissue program for the band's studio albums puts Depeche Mode in the odd position of having their new release compete with older ones. But the label no doubt figures that loyal fans will want to own it all. And if you enjoyed the originals, you'll definitely want to get the "Collector's Editions."
This Depeche-mania began with reissues of Speak & Spell, Music for the Masses, and Violator, and now it continues with three more DVD+CD combos: A Broken Frame (1982), Some Great Reward (1984), and Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993). Each features a new surround mix and a typically generous bevy of extras.
Filled with fresh interviews, each set's nearly half-hour DVD documentary about the project's making and the band's mindset at the time is hugely informative and entertaining. A Broken Frame and Some Great Reward offer three bonus tracks (B-sides and remixes) apiece, while Songs of Faith and Devotion has a whopping eight (several more than were absolutely necessary, if truth be told). Frame and Reward also throw in six and five live tracks, respectively, mixed in both surround and stereo. (Curiously, the surround mix of the live tracks on Frame, taken from a 1982 show in the U.K., is more sonically detailed and listenable than the mix on Touring the Angel.) Bottom line: Rhino has done right by Depeche Mode - again.
A Broken Frame may not be their strongest record - in fact, Gore judges it "probably our worst album" - but it does have a certain charm from back in the era when synth-pop aimed to break both musical ground and teen girls' hearts. It was a transitional record - Vince Clarke had left, and Alan Wilder had yet to join, at least officially - and the group was also transitioning from light, moony synth-pop to the denser, darker strains that would emerge as Gore grew as a songwriter. However, the pop tunes ("See You," "The Meaning of Love") are whimsical fun, and the more serious pieces ("Monument," "My Secret Garden") point the way toward the future.
The 5.1 mix of Frame is serviceable but conservative, placing just enough material in the center and surround channels to be interesting but not enough to be revelatory. The same holds true for the mix of Some Great Reward, which is the strongest of their early records and a quantum leap over Frame.
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