National Album Day 2019: Ultra by Depeche Mode

by | Oct 11, 2019 | National Album Day 2019

Ultra isn’t the best Depeche Mode album. (That’s Violator.) It isn’t even my favourite Depeche Mode album. (That’s Songs of Faith And Devotion.) But it’s the one that changed my life. It was 1997. I was battling through a medical degree that I had no right doing in the first place. And I fell in with the wrong crowd: the arts students at the university paper. With no proof that I could actually write, the clearly desperate Entertainment editor asked me to write something. Finally having realised the doctor thing was never going to happen, I obliged. It was a review of the Depeche Mode album I’d just bought.

It took ages to write and was no doubt quite rubbish (apart from the bit where I said the song It’s No Good should have been called It’s So Good). It probably made astute observations like Dave Gahan’s recent near-fatal overdose adding a rawness to songs like the ragged Barrel Of A Gun, and a newfound fragility to more tender moments like Freestate and Insight.

It definitely mentioned how producer Tim Simenon (of Bomb The Bass) and a slew of session musicians had almost managed to fill the void left by the departure of Alan Wilder, the band’s de facto recording mastermind. It no doubt made a dig at Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher‘s level of creative input (none, as usual). And it must have praised Martin Gore’s maturation as a songwriter, with tracks like Useless and Home amongst the finest in his oeuvre.

Despite the pretentious, self-important tone, it was published (see desperate Entertainment editor above) and eventually led to meeting my future wife, ditching that doctor nonsense, getting a journalism degree, and being paid to write pretentious, self-important reviews (and other stuff). The day job’s since moved on, but I still write whenever I can, and listen to Ultra whenever I like.

Ultra by Depeche Mode, 1997, chosen by writer and assistant editor Nils van der Linden

Glastonbury Sign (Kalpesh Patel)

Glastonbury 2022: A Festival Defined By Talent, Euphoria and Protest

Last week Glastonbury Festival made its triumphant return after an arduously long hiatus. Despite waiting more than...
Idles

2000Trees Festival Ready To Rock!

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally preparing to rock the Cotswolds at 2000 Trees festival 2022. With...
Taylor Hawkins @ Glastonbury Festival (Kalpesh Patel)

First Wave Of Acts Announced For Taylor Hawkins Tribute Show – Updated

The first wave of guests performing as part of The Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concerts are being released today, with the...
Lissie @ Glastonbury (Kalpesh Patel)

Lissie Returns To Carve Canyons

Midwest-based American singer-songwriter Lissie has announced details of her forthcoming country-tinged indie folk...
SKAAR (Isak Jenssen)

SKAAR Drops Out Of My Hands

Norwegian Grammy-nominated and A-listed artist Hilder Skaar - AKA SKAAR - has shared brand new song Out Of My Hands....
Lera Lynn (Kalpesh Patel)

Lera Lynn Is Your Kamikaze

Enigmatic Nashville, Tennessee-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Lera Lynn returns this year with her seventh...
Yannis Philippakis of Foals (Kalpesh Patel)

Foals To Take Life Is Yours For An Intimate Tour

Blistering Oxford boys Foals have announced a run of intimate UK shows in January 2023, a good six months after the...
Nina Nesbitt

Nina Nesbitt’s Pressure Makes Diamonds

Scottish singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt has announced details of her eagerly anticipated third studio...
Tweet3
Share1K
Share
Pin