The road to stardom begun from within the dark basements in Basildon was difficult and took very interesting turns that included opening for acts like Mute Records legacy act Fad Gadget, whose popularity they would eventually exceed—and by mentioning the town Basildon you might be perfectly aware that I am referring to Depeche Mode.
It is fun to imagine the band being young, naive, fresh-faced, and recording in a basement with a somewhat iffy sound production before eventually moving on to create albums that defined Synth Pop and inspired many, many sound engineers. Depeche Mode’s debut album Speak and Spell, which displayed the band’s potential perfectly, and their earliest officially released track, “Photographic”, on the Some Bizarre Album, created quite a buzz, but before eventually settling with the name Depeche Mode (“Fast Fashion” in French), the band was called Composition of Sound, and two demo tapes were in existence, one with Vince Clarke on vocals and guitar, Andy Fletcher on Bass and Martin L. Gore on Synthesizers, and one, linked here, just after the arrival of Dave Gahan in the band, shortly before they were renamed.
Listen to the Demo Tape, recorded in summer of 1980, below:
This demo tape, featuring three songs (Ice Machine, Radio News– a song that has never been officially released -, and an early version of Photographic) is a collection of three rehearsal-room takes. Whereas “Ice Machine” and “Photographic” are considered as two standout songs of Depeche Mode’s early career, “Radio News” clearly shows the influence of future labelmate Fad Gadget, and OMD’s classic “Electricity”, a song that, according to Vince Clarke, was a huge motivation to focus on electronic music, something that turned out to be a wise career choice, with a lot of pleasurable tunes and outstanding albums to follow.
This was one of two early Composition Of Sound / Depeche Mode demo tapes that existed in 1980. The first a 4 track tape (containing Photographic, Television Set, and two unknown/unnamed songs) with Vince singing, recorded before the arrival of Dave Gahan as the vocalist in the band.
Dave Gahan would make his live debut with the band on June 14, 1980, the fourth gig of Composition Of Sound.