In early 1982, a young boy of only seventeen summers, saw a bunch of four other young boys, barely older than he was, play an unforgettable gig at Newcastle City Hall.
So fresh were the band that they only had one album and a couple of singles to play. So, in front of a set of stark fluorescent strip-lights, they played them, then, for an encore, they played two of them again. The whole thing lasted barely an hour from start to finish.
The first boy was me. The four other boys were Depeche Mode. The album was ‘Speak & Spell’ which had been released just a few months earlier and it tells you everything about 1981 that you will ever need to know.
Released on Mute records (a guarantee of quality at that time), ‘Speak & Spell’ is a brilliant, almost exclusively upbeat, synthesizer album that posts it’s intentions right from the word ‘go’ with ‘New Life’ then powers all the way through (the mood dipping a bit in the middle of side 2) to end with ‘Just can’t get enough’ – a tune that acts like a mission statement for at least their next three albums.
‘What’s your name?’, tucked away at the end of side 1 is still the stand-out track for me, encapsulating all of the fun and excitement of early 1980s electronic music in less than three minutes.
Who knew that their next album ‘A broken frame’, released later that same year, would be even better still?
Label – Mute Records
Year - 1981