Friday, June 29, 2018

"Master and Servent" by Depeche Mode

Song#:  2449
Date:  09/07/1985
Debut:  92
Peak:  87
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave

Pop Bits:  After getting four Top 10 albums and five Top 10 singles in their UK homeland, Depeche Mode finally broke through on the US chart with the #13 "People Are People." The single was taken from a US-only catch-up album of the same name and it was also on their fourth studio album Some Great Reward, which began to sell as well thanks to the hit. This follow-up single was taken from Some Great Reward, but it failed to catch fire. It spent a short time on the Pop chart while getting to #44 at Dance. It did much better in the UK where it reached #9. While "People Are People" got them attention in the US, they wouldn't have another significant hit until the very end of the decade.

ReduxReview:  This was a terrific follow-up single, but I think it was just a little too dark and mechanical for US ears. "People Are People" certainly wasn't all sunshine and roses, but it had hooks galore in it that played well on radio and connected with listeners on the first spin. "Master" wasn't quite as immediately hooky and it took a couple of listens to dial in on the song, which wasn't gonna fly on Pop radio. It's too bad as this was a quality track from a band that was ahead of the curve when it came to synthpop production.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  For a popular hit-making band to record a song where the main subject concerns BDSM was a bit progressive at the time, so when this song was issued as a single, controversy ensued. The song's theme and sound effects rankled some radio folks and it seems some stations, particularly in the US, decided to not play the song. Although the song was played on the BBC, there has always been a persistent rumor as to why. The story goes that when the BBC staff voted on whether or not to air the song, the vote swayed in favor of airplay due to one staffer, who would have voted no, being gone on vacation. It's unclear whether this is fact or a good story, but there were stations in other countries who chose not to play the song. Apparently, one of the reasons some stations banned it was due to the whip sound on the record. For some reason, that crossed the line. Oddly, that sound was not an actual whip. The band did try to record a real whip but it wasn't working out. In the end, the sound was made via a human. Daniel Miller, the head of Depeche Mode's label Mute and their co-producer, used his voice to create the sound.


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