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Black Celebration

156 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Black Celebration + Violator + Music for the Masses
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Depeche Mode's most foreboding album, leaning toward the gothic, is DM at their most bleak, black-armband, and nihilistic--no doubt played over and over by countless self-loathing teens as they dyed their hair black behind locked bedroom doors. The tracks are tastefully minimalist, yet the few sounds that dominate each song have a consuming, even overwhelming feel--like a big, heavy black cloud that descends upon and surrounds listeners until their knees buckle from the weight. Rhythmically, songs like "A Question of Time" are driven with moderately paced 16th notes pounded out on synths filling out the low end. Other tracks follow the path of "Stripped," an all-out lamentfest powered by David Gahan's overproduced baritone. --Beth Bessmer


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Original Release Date: 1986
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002L9M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,265 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Erik Russell Olson on January 3, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Black Celebration represents many things for Depeche Mode. Sonically, we're looking at an evolution of their synthesized, sampled, semi-industrial pop sound -- a little less tinny than Some Great Reward. Lyrically and thematically, what we have is a full realization of the bleakness DM had been flirting with on songs like "Blasphemous Rumours," "Love, in Itself," and "Shake the Disease." This is important because it is the final, complete break with the cheerier sound associated with early Depeche Mode albums, and a transformation into the greatest band to emerge from the 1980s.
The title track sets the tone for the album very effectively, using a thick layer of menacing bass under twinkling melodic keynotes. "Black Celebration" is not quite as dark as most of the other songs on this album; but maybe it's really just that it is a declaration of the need to hang onto whatever happiness we can in the face of all-encompassing misery. A perfect opening to a near-perfect album.
The eerie underlying synth of the first track evolves into the backdrop for the second: "Fly on the Windscreen." This is DM at their gloomiest; a pummeling bass underpins the need for human contact as a reminder that there is such a thing as life.
"A Question of Lust" begins a hat trick of delicate songs sung by Martin Gore. It's an earnest, airy tale of the needless suspicion of jealousy in a relationship that probably won't last. A shimmering, sad ballad in an album of despair, yet a nice bounce-back from "Windscreen."
"Sometimes," the next song, is I believe very underrated -- I've seen someone deride it as an ersatz "Somebody," which is really not at all accurate. It employs only Martin's voice, echoed in a strange fashion, over a lazy, very pretty piano piece.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Roger Riddell on March 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The following review has been 21 years in coming as Depeche Mode's 1986 album and crowning achievement of their discography, 'Black Celebration', has steadfastly remained my most favorite and revered artist album of all time.

Following the moderate success of the highly innovative and experimental 'Construction Time Again' in 1983 and then a more resounding achievement, both in terms of the critical acclaim and subsequent tour which followed 1984's 'Some Great Reward', the time had come once again ("Get out the crane...") for the Basildon four to push the creative envelope further still and reach deeper yet, in efforts to broaden their burgeoning, worldwide fan base. In essence, it was time the world took notice of Depeche Mode and the band was ready ready to be taken seriously as a major and credible all electronic act. Who could have ever imagined an album which featured nothing in the vein of 'radio friendly' singles and lyrics which reflected on the darker nature of "The world we live and life in general", would aid in ascending the band to such stellar heights?

'Black Celebration', a dark, moody, sonic epitome of what the band was all about in terms of sound, word, voice and overall aesthetic, saw the creation of what I lovingly refer to as Depeche Mode's own personal, exclusively electronic sister to 'Dark Side of the Moon.' Indeed, the prodcution values and themes present on this 5th studio album were richer, more densely layered and contained combined elements which would demand the band be regarded as a musical force to be reckoned with by fans and critics alike and also as harbingers of a new era in electronic music.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Distant Voyageur on March 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Depeche Mode's 1986 album "Black Celebration" is considered by many to be their most loved album of their entire musical catalog and it definitely deserves all of the positive reviews that it gets. This album, alongside "Music For The Masses" is easily their masterpiece to this very day. I must say that the album cover definitely depicts the overall mood of the atmosphere. The building showcases the industrial sound, the nighttime sky depicts it's dark, bleak, and mysterious atmosphere, and the flowers showcase its beauty woven into its seemingly sinister and bleak mood. I would even go far as to say that it's better than Violator and Some Great Reward.
BLACK CELEBRATION: The dark and nihilistic ride begins with the opening title track, which I must say, is the best opening song of any of Depeche Mode's albums. It starts with a somewhat scary voice effects backed by an ominous droning minor note key, then robotic voice effects come in and then a ticking keyboard effect comes in before becoming a dark, intense, and ominous industrial number that I think is one of the ancestors of the industrial dance revolution that began to take shape a few years after this CD was released. The beats eventually stop and the song goes full circle returning into the ominous minor note key and transitioning into the next song.
FLY ON THE WINDSCREEN: This is a reworking of the closing track on the "Catching Up With Depeche Mode" compilation. I personally love the 1986 version on this album better. It starts with the droning minor note of the previous track melting into a new melody and becoming a dark, often scary New Wave industrial song with a futuristic feel to it and dark and sinister lyrics to back up the songs ominous tone.
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