At the end of last year Depeche Mode released their Video Singles Collection. It combined all their music videos into a single three disc set, sporting audio commentary and alternate cuts of videos. Some of these videos have been near impossible to get your eyes on, even on YouTube, especially their very old material. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well, it is and it isn’t.
First of all, the whole collection is very utilitarian. The presentation is basic, menu driven, and feels outdated compared to the polish of previous Depeche Mode video releases. The second problem is that the audio commentaries advertised on the back of the package are few and far between. Dave was obviously the most receptive to doing the commentaries because quite a few of the videos feature the option to hear what he has to say about them. Martin and Fletch don’t lend their commentary to many of the videos at all, and when you’re looking at a catalog that goes back to 1981, I find that disappointing. What’s even more disappointing is the complete lack of Alan Wilder. The band members speak of him frequently in their commentaries and I hate that someone who had such a hand in the success of the band is absent. I don’t know if he was even approached or just said no, as a fan I miss his presence. Beyond that, there are quite a few videos that have no commentary at all and I found myself more and more disappointed as the collection comes to a close. Why put it there as a feature if it’s only partially true. I know I’m nitpicking but as a life long fan I was really looking forward to hearing the stories behind the videos. Just wait. Once you’ve watched the videos with commentary you’ll find yourself missing it on the ones that don’t have any, or that don’t have Martin or Fletch.
Finally, the major issue with this release is that it was DVD only. No Blu Ray. You read that correctly. How, in the year 2016 going into 2017 is the even allowed? I feel like the collection is more a Warner Brothers Video money grab (because Depeche Mode fans buy every release that comes out…period) than a true collection for the fans. When I can go out and buy even the worst movies coming down the pike on Blu Ray but I can’t buy a collection of videos by my favorite band in HD there’s something wrong.
Alright, gripes about features and lack of Blu Ray aside, Depeche Mode is Depeche Mode. The convenience of having all these videos on one set is very nice and it’s worth owning by even the most casual of Mode fans. Quantity beats out quality in this spartan release and serves as a good hold over as we wait on the new album, I just really wish more time and care had been put into it.