Some Great Reward (Reissue)

Depeche Mode

Mute, 2006

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


On its fourth studio album Some Great Reward, Depeche Mode shows clear indications of the direction its subsequent records would take. Possessing the most industrial sound of all of DM’s albums released till that point, Reward is dark and sophisticated.

Barring the Martin Gore-sung cheesy love ballad “Somebody,” the rest of album is powerful and edgier than any of DM’s earlier works. Be it the raunchy and perverted “Master And Servant” or “Blasphemous Rumors,” with its morose intelligently cynical lyrics, Gore displays a new degree of maturity in his songwriting, which would further develop and morph into darker forms on ensuing records. “People Are People,” one of DM’s few socially aware songs, makes a strong statement with its snazzy beats and anthemic chorus even with simple lyrics.

Going beyond the album’s chart-toppers, the rest of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Reward is solid as well. “Something To Do,” “Stories Of Old,” and “If You Want” are gothic and gloomy, with hard-hitting beats and heavy industrial sound effects adding great punch. There is almost no sign of the poppiness of the early-day Depeche Mode on this album.

The bonus DVD of the 2006 reissue follows the same pattern as DM’s other reissues: A 30-minute film about the making of the record and the whole album in PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and DTS 5.1 formats. In addition, it has live versions of five of the album’s songs and a few bonus tracks. With the exception of “If You Want,” the other four live cuts, “People Are People,” “Somebody,” “Blasphemous Rumors” and “Master And Servant” can be found on the band’s 101 live album, and in fact sound not much different from their versions on 101. If anything, they sound less mature here.

The bonus cut, “In Your Memory,” shares the industrial sound of the rest of the album, whereas “(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me” is poppy and playful, much like DM’s older stuff. “Somebody (Remix)” is a big let down, as one would expect a remix of DM’s only acoustic cut to have beats and the whole shebang, but disappointedly this one sounds almost like the original version of the song.  

The 30-minute movie “Depeche Mode 1984 (You Can Get Away With Anything If You Give It A Good Tune)” consists of interviews with the band members and a few others involved with the band in the making of this album, sharing interesting little stories about the making of Reward. Also included are interviews with Alan Wilder, who shares his experiences during the album’s recording, like how while recording “Somebody” with Martin Gore he had to play the piano facing the other way because Gore decided to sing the song without any clothes on.

This reissue is definitely worth the extra bucks. There is enough in the packaging (the booklet is full-fledged, complete with lyrics, photos and a note from producer Daniel Miller about the album) and the DVD to please even the casual DM fans.

In the league of classic DM records, Reward might not top the list. But it surely paved the way for the dark image that the band would later embrace. This record is the birth of Depeche Mode as we know them today.

Rating: B+

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© 2007 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mute, and is used for informational purposes only.