By the mid-1990s, Depeche Mode had perfected their mix of “dark poetry and new wave chic”

By on April 18, 2019

“Popular for its simplistic versatility, the synthesizer became widely used during the upsurge of modern rock bands in the early ’80s” says Night Flight’s early ’90s host Tom Juarez. “As the decade progressed, many of these bands quickly faded into the one-hit-wonder status with very few surviving the transition into the ’90s.”

“Of those few, one band has enjoyed repeated success today in both their music and popularity while still retaining their unique sound and style. Tonight, we’re taking a look at pop supergroup… Depeche Mode.”

Watch Night Flight’s Depeche Mode Video Profile in this nearly hour-long 1994 syndicated episode of “Night Flight” — which we’ve uploaded with all the original-era commercials!! — on Night Flight Plus.

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Depeche Mode likely needs little introduction to Night Flight fans — they were, after all, one of the pioneering British electro synth-pop bands of the ’80s who went on to become one of the most successful bands ever, selling over 100 million records worldwide — but we thought you’d enjoy watching this vintage video profile, which features songs like “People Are People,” “Everything Counts,” “Blasphemous Rumours,” “A Question of Lust,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” “Behind the Wheel,” “Strangelove,” “World in My Eyes,” and it ends with a live version of “People are People.”

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For some odd reason, the profile is also interrupted (and we mean constantly!) by interstitial black & white comedy bits by the great comedian Steven Wright, known for his, as Juarez says, “offbeat brand of humor.”

You’ll also be exposed to a bunch of lurid 1-800, and 1-900- number “adults only” TV commercials featuring scantilly-clad gals in slinky sleepwear and matching bra & panty sets, along with a handful a few of those ’90s-era self-congratulatory syndication-era Night Flight commercials, in which the show praised the variety of what you were going to see on “Night Flight,” giving themselves lots of hearty pats on the back (this despite the fact that the show’s original run on the USA Network had ended in 1988 and the ’90s-era programming was created, almost entirely in some cases, from previously-aired content from the 1980s).

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“During the summer of 1980,” says Juarez just a little later into this episode, “in the Essex new town Basildon, three young musicians — Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore and Vince Clarke — became a trio sometimes known as the Composition of Sound.”

“Restless for a frontman, they later brought on ex-car thief David Gahan. It was this move, however, that allowed Fletcher, Gore and Clarke to address more time to writing lyrics and composing their rhythms.”

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“With their new frontman secured into position, they decided to name themselves Depeche Mode, a French expression which translates ‘Hurry up fashion.’ They started playing local gigs before quickly realizing there was audience for their mix of dark poetry and new wave chic.”

Juarez later re-appears again to fill in a bit more of the Depeche Mode story, saying:

“Feeling secure that the band had found their sound, they set their sets higher, and decided to shop themselves to major recording companies. After many rejections, the group finally found a home with Mute Records, and thus began Depeche Mode’s upward climb toward success.”

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“As Depeche Mode’s following grew more and more, so did the quality of their music. As you at home can see, this was true of the videos they produced as well.”

Read more about Depeche Mode’s documentary film The Dark Progression below.

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Focusing on our Depeche Mode Video Profile also gives us the opportunity to take another look at their unauthorized UK-made music doc, Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression, which you’ll also find streaming over on Night Flight Plus.

The nearly 90-minute documentary — released back in 2009 — details their sometimes surreal over-thirty-year musical career.

This unauthorized UK-made music doc was produced and edited by Alec Lindsell and released back in 2009 by our content partner, MVD.

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Clocking in at just over an hour and a half, Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression features archival footage of rare live performances by the band, snippets from their music videos, location shoots, news reports, home movies and exclusive interviews with members of the band and contributions from friends and a few of their electronic music contemporaries, including: Gary Numan, Thomas Dolby, Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark’s Andy McCluskey, Daniel Miller (the Normal); band biographer Jonathan Miller; producers Gareth Jones, Dave Bascombe, Phil Legg and Steve Lyon; and electronic music experts Mark Pendergast and David Stubbs.

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Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression features Depeche Mode’s recordings of “Just Can’t Get Enough,” People Are People” (#13 US), “Stripped,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” Strangelove,” “Personal Jesus” (# 28 US), Enjoy The Silence” (#8 US), “Walking In My Shoes,” I Feel You” and many others.

Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression chronicles the entire saga of one of the original innovators of the 80s electronic dance-pop sound, beginning with their formation in the working-class London suburb Basildon, in Essex, England in 1980 by Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and Vince Clarke.

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The focus here is on an almost reverent celebration of Depeche Mode’s recordings and less so on the personal lives of the band members themselves, although there was certainly enough grist for the rumor mill had the producers of this excellent documentary decided to go that way (in other words, don’t expect to see too much focus on Depeche Mode’s hard-partying drug-addled front man Dave Gahan).

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Read more about the documentary in our earlier blog post here.

Watch Night Flight’s 1994-era Depeche Mode Video Profile and Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.