Depeche Mode started out as a nerdy yet somewhat dark boy band, and I remember getting some snark from a Brit in college when I said I liked Depeche’s early single “Just Can’t Get Enough”. Just shows you that music snobs are stupid, basically. Okay, I admit I don’t like everything, but I’m willing to look beyond image and listen to the music.
They continued to be an obscure but successful British band until they broke through into the U.S. charts with “People Are People”, a well-meaning but perhaps overly simplistic song that failed in making them sound cutting-edge or cool.
Several years later, Depeche Mode began making serious inroads into the American market with improved street cred, especially due to their albums “Black Celebration” and Music for the Masses”. In Los Angeles, they were in constant rotation at KROQ and would later cause a near-riot at a signing for their album “Violator”, prompting 100 police officers to descend upon Wherehouse Records at the Beverly Connection to quell the hysteria over the band.
One thing that helped in the evolution of their image and popularity was their cover of “Route 66”. Written in 1946, it was covered by everyone from Nat King Cole to the Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters. To see the contrast in styles, check out Der Bingle’s version.
Depeche’s scorching alt-rock version proved to be the perfect vehicle for demonstrating their changing sound. Placed on the b-side of “Behind the Wheel”, I remember it getting more local radio and club play than any a-side they’d ever produced, a preview to the global superstardom they achieved shortly thereafter. There are multitudes of mixes; here’s one mixed with the a-side. Enjoy!