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4.4 out of 5 stars
Music for the Masses
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72 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Wow. I'm really surprised that I'm going to be the first person to mention this: The thing which makes this reissue disappointing for me is that every incarnation of this album up to this point (well, maybe not on vinyl) flowed from Pimpf straight into the pseudo "bonus" tracks "Agent Orange," "Never Let Down Again (Aggro Mix)," "To Have And To Hold (Spanish Taster)" and "Pleasure Little Treasure." Now, the album ends with "Pimpf." If over the years you've listened to this album 10,000 times like I have, you're going to feel a bit cheated, like you aren't getting the whole album. Those kind-of-kind-of-not bonus tracks have always felt like an integral part of this album. "Agent Orange" and "Pleasure Little Treasure" are now seated at the kids' table, pushed into their own, separate little section along with some additional B-sides on the DVD. You have to navigate around on the DVD menu to access them. It seems particularly weird to regard "Pleasure Little Treasure" as a "bonus" track, given that it was one of the first cuts from the album to be pushed as a single. And sadly, "To Have And To Hold" and the Aggro mix of "Never Let Me Down Again" are nowhere to be found.

The sound mix is great, as is the documentary, but you really should approach this reissue as something to complement one of your favorite albums, not as a replacement for it.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Continuing the bleakness of where 1986s Black Celebration left off, Music For The Masses is slightly brighter yet much colder than the previous album. The album cover perfectly portrays what the mood of the album is like; the hazy sunset portrays the bleak minor tracks and the bullhorns seem to portray the extremely experimental, and downright sonic bite of the music.
NEVER LET ME DOWN AGAIN-Who can ever forget the danceable "Never Let Me Down Again" with it's bizarre instrumentation, metallic beats, buzzy synthesizers, harsh piano licks and stabbing sonics towards the ending. I would say that it's the most schizophrenic tracks on the CD. The loud melody would portray the sunny daytime feel, but the eerieness gives the 'sunny mood' an unpleasant feel like something is not right. As the song climaxes with the orchestral band in the background before gradually fading into a dreamy, hissing steam pipe sound effects which bring us into the dreamy haze of the next track. This is an unforgettable classic from an unforgettable band.
THE THINGS YOU SAID-This song is much darker, and more mellow and portrays a very dreamy haze of the monotony of the same old things over & over in adolescence and also the admitting of ones weakness and not keeping secrets. Musically speaking, the music itself perfectly fits the meaning. I just love it's dark, dreamy, grey, hazy atmosphere. No idea why this wasn't made a single. :/ It's one of my favorites.
STRANGELOVE: Who can ever forget this track. Strangelove is one of the most danceable track on the LP. However, where the version played on the radio has the thumping, bass-heavy beat, the version the parent album has a much lighter beat, but it doesn't rob the song of it's power. True, I like the single version with the heavier, but either way, Strangelove is one of my all-time favorite songs from DM. I love that line "Will you take the pain, I will give to you, again & again". It perfectly fits how I sometimes feel about past lovers. The main song fades out except for a cold, dreamy, ambient outro chord which fades into a much darker minor note ending the track.
SACRED: The fourth track, Sacred, begins with the minor note intro that ended Strangelove and has an eerie, choir before it blasts into a bass-heavy danceable track. Sacred is a much darker, more danceable track that, from my guess, is about religious doubt, although I don't think it's nearly as suicidal as Blasphemous Rumors is.
LITTLE 15: Little 15 is probably one of the most experimental tracks on the album. There are few synthesizer-like sounds like on the previous ones. Instead the song has a more, how would I say it, orchestral sound. There are some keyboard dabblings in the middle of the track.
BEHIND THE WHEEL: The song begins with the most memorable intro in my opinion with the sound of a rolling lid and then the beating drums come in with aggressive guitars. Ultimately frightening chimes are followed by pulsating beats and a gloomy feel to the music. From my guess, it speaks of not wanting to be in the center of the action at times.
I WANT YOU NOW: Whoa! DM at their erotic apex! A heavy breathing of someone breathing through a gas mask before a bizarre, disturbing track comes in about intense sexual longing and urges. This is one of the most experimental tracks on the LP and is almost like it's own genre of music. As the song fades out a Sci-Fi-like speaker voice effect comes in then a disturbing low-pitched siren comes in.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD: The disturbing siren brings us to what I consider the most frightening song that Depeche Mode has ever done in their career. The siren gives away to alarming buzzes and wailing alarm sound effects with a , lead grey storm atmosphere, and an extremely eerie mood to the song. As the beats stop, the disturbing siren sound keeps wailing until it's immediately cut off at the end of the track.
NOTHING: This song is probably the last `regular' track on this CD. It's a nihilistic dance song with a dark dreamy, hazy atmosphere and electronic guitar pulses and phat beats. A great song. After this, the album becomes more experimental until track 14.
PIMPF: Pimpf is a bizarre Gothic piano instrumental that feels more like a B-Side to a single and in fact, it was the B-Side to "Strangelove". The song becomes an explosive, Gothic wash of `Gregorian' chanting, and chinging bells before ending. There is a `hidden track' within it which is a bizarre sounding challiope with the sound of a basketball bouncing.
AGENT ORANGE: Could the title of the track be better? This is a very gloomy instrumental and probably the darkest song on the entire album. It begins with a cold, nuclear winter breeze and becomes a death-like ambient instrumental similar to Pimpf but with more oomph to it.
NEVER LET ME DOWN (AGGRO MIX): This is a remix of the original single with aNitzer Ebb like flavor to it and a totally different melodic structure before creeps of the original come in.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD(SPANISH TASTER): This is a reworking of track8, but with a less frightening sound and more of an industrial dance vibe to it.
PLEASURE, LITTLE TREASURE: The album wraps up with this perky yet gloomy number. With it's ominous melody, pulsating beats, quirky keyboards, and acoustic guitars, I'd say that this continues where Stripped left off but a more danceable sound. I love the `Egyptian' voice effects at the ending. The voice echoes away and wraps up the album.
I cannever recommend this album enough. Sure, they had bigger hits and sold after this but from my perspective, Music For The Masses remains their masterpiece to this day. Buy it! It's so worthit!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Depeche Mode revolutionized music with a collection of great songs, revolutionary recording techniques, and one of the biggest cult followings in music history. Back in March of 1987, Music For The Masses proved to be another defining moment in an already legendary band's catalogue. Released only a year after their seminal "Black Celebration" album, Music For The Masses was strangely both dark and danceable. The fusion of the two elements of "goth" and "dance" opened up Depeche Mode's sound to a whole new audience of clubgoing teens who could appreciate not only the beat heavy polyrhythms, but also the honestly bleak lyrics. Coincedentally, Music For The Masses would prove to be released at the height of the 80's dance scene of 1987 and 1988 - this timing would prove to be a boon for Depeche, as Music For The Masses sold more copies in the U.S. than any of their previous recordings. With the first single, "Strangelove," the band actually scored their first stateside top 40 hit since 1985's "People Are People." They even got regular play on MTV for the first time, and earned a performance on 1987's MTV Video Music Awards. Not only did Music For The Masses open up Depeche Mode's commercial influence, but it also revolutionized their sound as well. Never before had the band relied so heavily on rhythm to carry their songs. Recordings such as "Strangelove," "Behind The Wheel," and "Nothing" display the bands intimate knowledge of layered percussives and employ them to brilliant effect. Never since have Depeche Mode incorporated such complex rhythms into their music as on Music For The Masses. This album, in my opinion is the paradigm of eighties dance-pop. Brilliant lyrical motifs that reflect life, love and friendship coupled with strangely impersonal, yet passionate, synth-noise. The glowing, almost orgasmic in heights, "Never Let Me Down Again" opens the album on a blissful exuberant note as Martin sings "Everything is alright tonight." "The Things You Said" is one of the moodiest pieces the band has ever recorded, focusing on the gossip of daily life - "I heard it from my friends about the things you said, but they know me better than that..." perfectly conveys the adolescent experience. "Strangelove," the album's most danceable track, is accented with everything from metallic beats and glass breaking percussion to electronic crickets. "Sacred" explores the depth of love with a gorgeous echoing chorus and beat-heavy verse. Without a doubt it is one of the best album tracks the band has ever recorded. Next comes the downbeat "Little 15" with a repetitive cello synth and lyrics that will touch the heart of any adolescent - a perfect reflection of the powerless feeling that accompanies youth. "Behind The Wheel," despite being one of my least favorite Depeche Mode tracks, is still a wonderful work-out in dance rhythms. The intro with the "wheel rolling" effect is one of the most recognizable in pop history. "I Want You Now" wins the MostDisturbingDepecheModeSong award. Its spooky breathing effects beneath a possessive lyric are nothing short of scary. But, a nice melody and the inventive arrangement save it from being merely shocking and turn it into a compelling peice of music. "To Have And To Hold" is one of the bands most experimental songs ever. You can barely hear the lyrics beneath the noise piled over top of them. But it is also strangely affecting because of this. It is near-perfect in conveying a sense of paranoia. "Nothing" is one of the most nihilistic songs the band has ever performed. "Sitting Target, sitting praying, and God is saying... Nothing." Is that dark or what! But this is also one of my favorites, because it is so rhythmic in spite of all the gloominess. Finally, "Pimpf" rounds out the album on an instrumental note. This is clearly Alan Wilder's moment to shine. This one can be categorized under "unsettling." And that was it. With these ten tracks, Depeche Mode revolutionized the pop music scene of the late 80's. The complex interplay between darkness and danceability has only been seen since in the music of Nine Inch Nails and Garbage, both of which proved themselves to be very influential as well. Depeche Mode has never again toyed with pop music in the manner found on "Music For The Masses" again, but their one foray into the genre left a timeless impression upon pop music. I recommend that you check this one out.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Black Celebration" had solidified DM's synth pop sound within the realms of a darkly sensual and gothic exploration into the listener's emotions. Now with "Music for the Masses," that sound is continued through more great songs wrought with sexual undertones, gothic soundscapes, and blistering dance rhythms that dare the listener to get up and move in ecstasy. The songs on this album are lyrically profound, and the music atmospheric and dark, yet accessible. Truly a sound for the masses. Upbeat tempos with downbeat backdrops, and songs so infectious...it makes great driving music...
-"Never Let Me Down Again": a brilliant opener with a pulsating rhythm and a great buildup to a fade out of echoing synth riffs and harmony vocals. An acoustic cover was done by Smashing Pumpkins for the "For the Masses" tribute album.
-"The Things You Said": this is arguably my favorite song on the album. An airy ambient minimalist song, with a great gothic bassline.
-"Strangelove": the single mix was far more upbeat, but this version certainly fits within the ambient context of the rest of the album. Great lyrics that would seem to suggest bondage, but still subtle enough to make the listener get up and dance.
-"Sacred": my least favorite song on the album, to me there is nothing special about it. This is the one song the album could have done without, though the intro sample of vocal choirs buried in the mix is pretty cool.
-"Little 15": why this song was released as a single ONLY in France, I don't know, but it is a great song. Lyrically not unlike "A Question of Time" from "Black Celebration," but again, far more subtle and more provocative. Beautiful.
-"Behind the Wheel": this song, along with its B-side, DM's cover of "Route 66," and "Never Let Me Down Again" help to prove my point of this album making great driving music...at least lyrically. An infectious bassline, pulsing tempo, and a great dual-lead vocal from Gore and Gahan make this probably the best song on the album...certainly the most recognizable.
-"I Want You Now": the breathmask sample that starts off the rhythm of this song (most notably sampled by bandmate Alan Wilder for his song "Curse" on his Recoil "Bloodline" album) is eerie, but the song by itself is nothing special. If anything, it's a great vocal by Gore.
-"To Have and to Hold": this is perhaps the most frightening song on the album. This is as dark as it gets. Echoing vocals, a slow dirge beat, and brilliant lyrics make this a spectacle for the album. Faithfully covered by Deftones on the "For the Masses" tribute album.
-"Nothing": my second favorite song on the album. The bassline is almost literally identical to the Cure's "The Walk," but that means "nothing" when taking into account the criticism that song got for being somewhat identical to New Order's "Blue Monday." Be that as it may, I love Gahan's vocals on this song, and the lyrics are just great.
-"Pimpf": this is probably the most experimental Gore ever went musically. The piano melody is very well done, and the "Hee-Hoo" choir-style vocals are eerie and powerful. A brilliant song.
Overall, this album is far more ambient and atmospheric than "Black Celebration," but lyrically and stylistically speaking, this album is an excellent piece of work that stays true to form while still being experimental in its own sense. The bonus tracks, which were nothing more than selected remixes (all of which appeared as B-sides to their respective singles), are also noteworthy, especially the "Spanish Taster" mix of "To Have and to Hold," which is said to be the original version Gore intended before Wilder's influence on the final album version. On the whole, this album is probably DM's best in the '80's...afterall, it spawned the tour that produced "101." But that's another story in itself...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
If I had to only choose 3 DM albums to take with me to a desert island, this would be one of them. It has classic tracks like Strangelove, Little 15, Pleasure Little Treasure, and Never Let Me Down Again that make it a must have. But there is no filler, this is all well done DM music. From the more experimental PIMPF to the more mainstream stuff, this stands out as one of DM's crowning achievments. I consider myself one of their biggest fans, having everything of theirs I can get my hands on, and this is one of the best.
I can't stress enough how wonderful this album is. If you are into electronic music, new wave, or just want to relive high school memories, this is the album to get. Never Let Me Down Again will forever be an anthem for me and my high school friends. Check out the video if you can.
Get it. It is great. Enough said...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2007
Format: Audio CD
When initially released a couple of decades ago, I found MFTM being a rather bleak album. Even the singles were somewhat low-key arrangements of what I still thought were great tunes. The reason I bought this re-mastered version is that I have been enjoying other re-mastered DM releases and thought that maybe it was worth giving MFTM another try.

Hearing this album again proves that giving it a second chance was well worth my time. The sound of many bands from the 80s has aged poorly; one can often almost pin point which year such and such album was released given the production sound that was currently in vogue. MFTM has, however, a timeless production. This could actually be released today and by tagging another artist name to the music this could most certainly appeal to today's masses. The songs are built upon minimalist sound bites and layered with various sound effects. This may have sounded bleak in the mid 80s but today this sounds remarkably fresh.

Listening to the album in 5.1 surround sound gives even more value to the production. The low-key beats driving the songs flow in a perfect tandem with the instruments flowing all around the listener. Actually, I hardly bother listening to this any other way.

Also included is a very interesting documentary about the making of the album, the making of its cover and the subsequent promotional tour. A highlight is the final concert which certainly put them on the map in the US. One senses how much pride DM still feel of MFTM.

I have one final note. Having bought other DM re-releases from the US, I initially simply forgot that the CD version from the UK is a hybrid SACD. I thus listened first to the dts surround sound the first few times, and was impressed. Yet once I put the SACD it felt like the sound improved almost half way to the difference of re-mastered versions of other CDs today from initial pressing 20 years or so ago. The difference is subtle but definitely audible. This should not be happening today. I intend to buy the more expensive DM re-releases from the UK and dump the US versions.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I ordered the import SACD version (shakes fist at Rhino) I guess US audiences do not merit the SACD release. Shrug. Regardless, I'd like to comment on the sound quality of Music for the Masses.

First of all, true remasters take the 2-track master, bring it into a mastering studio, and work from there. Don't expect a remix from the multitrack, although the 5.1 mixes obviously have to be remixed from the multitrack, unless they take the ultra cheap way out and synthesize a surround mix out of the 2-track master. Anyway, I'm not commenting on the surround mix. This is strictly about the stereo remaster.

With today's mastering technology, working on something that is 20 years old noticeably improves the sound quality - regardless of delivery format, CD, SACD, whatever. You're going to hear the difference. The Violator and Speak & Spell remasters benefitted from the remastering. Music for the Masses... not so much. I don't think this is the fault of the mastering engineer, I suspect this is simply the best they could do with the material. Overall, and I'm speculating here, it sounds like early digital. Somewhere along the signal path it sounds like it has been irrevocably committed to an early digital technology.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of digital recording, but some early systems really didn't sound so great, and this is a big reason why digital adopted an early reputation of sounding rather harsh. This release really sounds like that kind of technology in the original recording, and if that is the case, all the mastering kung-fu in the world isn't going to make it sound appreciably better.

"Never Let Me Down Again" should sound huge. It doesn't. It sounds pinched. And flat. Some of the quieter songs revel more detail. You can hear the reverb on the kick drum of "The Things You Said" more clearly, for example. Every sample edge is clear on "I Want You Now", due to the increased average level. It is the 'big' songs that seem to suffer: "Strangelove" sounds pretty much as it did before, but with less dynamic range, and less punch.

I'm really looking forward to Black Celebration, which I feel is Depeche Mode's worst-mastered album. However, from my experience with other remasters from that era, I'm afraid the quieter details, like reverb, will become overwhelming when mastered to today's standards. A new stereo remix is really warranted under those circumstances.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I have bought both versions (UK and USA). Here is my review.

1) The Sound: Both versions sound equal. The remastering at least on the CD layer is not better than the singles 86>98. Period.
The new remasterings are in the middle between the "old" CD's and The Singles 86>98 CD, so don't expecte a "big" improvement unless of course you have a SACD player or a 5.1 system.

2) The SACD layer: The USA doesn't contain this layer. I think they should be presenting a CD/SACD + DVD (as originally designed) on this 'remaster' series, not just a plain CD with an additional DVD. However if you don't own a SACD player this layer is useless.

3) The video format: The USA remasters are NTSC and Region 1. The UK are PAL and Multiregion. However if you live in America and have a good CD Player Sony the USA remasters are more useful because sony doesn't reproduce PAL DVD's.

4) Both versions can be ripped to a mp3 format. No problem.

Which version you should buy?, the're almost equal, one has an advantage over the other and viceversa. At the end the decision is only yours.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 7, 2006
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
i got both violator and music for the masses last night and they are well worth the 22.99 asking price. as the gentleman below mentioned, the sound quality is incredibly improved. this won't matter much to the average fan, but to mode-geeks like me, it's a godsend. i won't go into the details of the album, because if you already own music for the masses, you already know what a great album it is.

the documentary included is great. as with the violator album, it's great to hear david bascombe, the album's producer, talk about the the making of the album. the creative process has always fascinated me and getting a behind-the-scenes look at 'masses' is a treat. to hear dave bascombe say the intro to 'never let me down again' was a 'happy accident' was a treat. it was also great to see how 'masses' made depeche mode one of the biggest acts in the world. it's not every band, you know, that can sell 70,000 seats at the rose bowl. as with 'violator,' you'll get plenty of interviews with the band, the most impressive of which, in my opinion, is the interview with alan wilder. you can't help but be impressed with the man and wish he were still a part of the band.

for life-long depeche mode fans, these reissues are fantastic. sure, they could've had a few more bells and whistles, but the audio is first-rate, the dvd is fantastic, and listening and watching will take you back to the time when depeche mode were the center of the known universe.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2006
Format: Audio CD
These three reissues are packaged and priced very similarly to The Cure's reissues that are being released; meaning that the sound quality is very much improved over the original cd issues, the packaging is top-notch, and the bonus material is worth the "deluxe edition" price.

Disc one is the original album, remastered with a very warm sound instead of being harsh and overly-loud. The most notable sound improvement is the closing instrumental, 'Pimpf'. That track, much like minimalist classical, is about repetition off of a theme, so each entrance comes in clearly and overall sounds a lot more dynamic. 'Behind The Wheel' and 'Never Let Me Down Again' sound a lot more dynamic and powerful with these new remasters, where the aforementioned 'Pimpf' and 'I Want You Now' (complete with sampled breathing sound effects from real people and an accordion being improperly played) allow their subtle intracacies to show.

Instead of opting for a second disc of rare outtakes, live material, and demos, disc two is a dvd filled with material (such as a documentaries, 5.1 mixes, and strangely, the b-sides).

The choice to not reissue the catalogue in chronological order makes me wonder if the other albums will be released in this same fashion; also like The Cure reissues, will there be single disc counterparts to be released shortly after these expanded versions?
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