Nov 03

DEPECHE MODE – ‘Shake The Disease’

FT + New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 815 views

I’m sure most rock stars were better when they were dorks, but luckily for them we don’t usually get to see that. With Depeche it was all terribly public, and I can’t think why anyone with the vaguest affection for their gauche Goth-y phases would have tolerated Dave Gahan’s beard’n’tats routine for a minute.

Anyway, this is my favourite Depeche Mode single, probably. They always looked a little nerdy in the early days, mostly thanks to Martin Gore’s hair and their mother-me gangliness, and here they sound it too. Gore was still getting used to the ‘I’m the songwriter’ thing and ‘Shake The Disease’ is charmingly awkward, a collection of marvellous bits of songs that stops and starts as if it doesn’t know what to do with itself. They lose the momentum completely every time the chorus ends – initially it’s irritating but gradually you realise that by accident or design form (your frustration) is matching content (Dave’s frustration) and wow! this is actually rather good.

Gahan’s voice on it is excellent too – traces of an Estuary accent, a kind of stilted RP thing going on somewhere in there too, but his projection is so strong that it never comes out fey. You can hear the honking pomposity of ‘Personal Jesus’ et al. trying to break out but the confidence isn’t there yet, thank goodness. Anyway the whole package – downloaded on a whim from someone’s shared list – is so enjoyable it makes me wonder if I need to (eek) re-assess Depeche Mode. Well, the early stuff at least.


  1. 1
    Wendy Wayrad on 24 Feb 2007 #

    Wow. I’m a few years late, but that is one of the best descriptions of “Shake The Disease” that I’ve ever read. I once found the song boring – I hated it. Now it’s one of my favourites too… strange.

  2. 2
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Mar 2014 #

    Probably, still, my favourite DM single, too: it was an enormous step forward from that embarrassing and naive quasi-political stuff they’d put out of the previous couple of years. If “Get The Balance Right” had indicated their musically crossing from childhood to adolescence, it was here they became adults.

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