On September 24th, 1984, Depeche Mode released Some Great Reward—their fourth studio album. The record was produced between London and Berlin, by Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones. The album’s title comes from the last lines of the bridge in “Lie to Me” when it repeats near the end.
Some Great Reward features several of the band’s iconic singles such as:
“People Are People”
The song, with lyrics against racism and intolerance, was recorded at Hansa Studios in West Berlin by producer Gareth Jones, and samples Fad Gadget’s Collapsing New People, a song which is about, and features Einsturzende Neubauten on the track, which was also produced by Jones.
About the sample, Neubauten frontman Blixa Bargeld had this to say:
“We got together through a chain of coincidences. Fad Gadget did a record with Gareth at Hansa Studio and the lead singer Frank Tovey wrote the song “Collapsing New People” with the line: “Sat awake all night / But never see the stars / And sleep all day / On a chain-link bed of nails.” That was a direct reference to the Neubauten. Now Tovey had the clever idea to ask the Neubauten whether we’d play on it, so that the whole thing wouldn’t be misinterpreted as a criticism. That’s when we did our first recordings with Gareth. At the same time, those were also the first recordings that Neubauten did at Hansa Studio. After all, in this session, Gareth was confronted with our instruments for the first time. That had sweeping consequences because directly afterward he recorded Depeche Mode, also at Hansa, and used our overdubs from the Fad Gadget reels for “People Are People.” He once later told me about that.”
“Master and Servant”
Reportedly banned in some places, the BDSM themed “Master and Servant” has become legendarily indicative of the Berlin influence on Depeche Mode. Along with the sexualized charged lyrics come synthesized whip-and-chain sound effects, with the whip effect, in particular, being a sample of Daniel Miller standing in the studio hissing and spitting.
The lyrics to “Blasphemous Rumours” describe the ironic story of a 16-year-old girl who attempts suicide but survives, finds God, and then is later killed in a car accident at the age of 18.
This single was released as a Double A-side along with “Somebody”, reportedly in response to people in the religious community responding negatively to the song.
The sickenly sweet romantic song was recorded by Martin Gore in the studio while nude. The lyrics seem to convey the longing for an ideal relationship or love, but the line at the end of the song is a perhaps both an ironic and meta observation of bypassing the urge to cringe in response to singing a song as sincere as this:
“though things like this make me sick / in a case like this I’ll get away with it.”
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