By 1986 Depeche Mode’s signature sound was not difficult to recognize as the group’s unique vocals and brilliant songwriting stood out amongst the one-hit-wonders of the day. The release of Black Celebration early that year marked the beginning of a darker, sexier chapter in DM history.
Prior to Black Celebration, Depeche Mode’s international success started slowly. The group debuted and experienced European success with Speak & Spell in 1981. The album was recorded with the band’s fourth founding member Vince Clarke and the album was an odd mix of haunting synth tracks and dance-able pop songs (cue Just Can’t Get Enough).
The band’s second album, A Broken Frame, was released in 1982 after Clarke left the band. A Broken Frame has never met the level of international success that many other DM albums have, likely due to the experimental nature of the work as remaining members Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher began exploring their talents as a trio. Black Celebration is the fifth Depeche Mode album and their third album to include the addition of Alan Wilder, following up Construction Time Again (1983) and the popular 1984 release Some Great Reward (cue People Are People).
The addition of Alan Wilder helped to define the signature Depeche Mode sound that dominated the mid-late eighties and early nineties (to read more about Alan and his contributions to Depeche Mode click here). The evolution of sound that followed A Broken Frame led DM to mainstream success in North America, beginning with Some Great Reward, strengthening with Black Celebration and exploding with Music For The Masses (cue Strangelove). By 1987/88 Depeche Mode had enough American fans to sell out the Pasadena Rose Bowl during their Music For The Masses/101 tour.
Subsequent albums such as Violator and Music For The Masses are considered fan-favourites today, deeming Black Celebration the precursor to some of the band’s most enduring songs, and marking a subtle shift in direction for Depeche Mode. Arguably, Black Celebration is the album that ushered in Depeche Mode’s sexiest era, setting the stage for many of the sexually-charged tracks DM is known for today; such as Personal Jesus, Happiest Girl, Sea of Sin, In Your Room and I Feel You.
Originally released in 1986, 30 years have passed since the release of Black Celebration. Top tracks from this album include A Question of Lust, Stripped, But Not Tonight, and the titular track Black Celebration.