For those of you who are curious the reason why I’ve chosen this title for this series of posts it’s because Catching up with Depeche Mode, a US version of the original singles compilation LP, was pretty much the first non-UK release by Depeche Mode I bought along with the 12″ But Not Tonight which was a single outside of the UK. The other title I was thinking of was adventures in record collecting but as this is all centred on DM I wanted to be more specific for the SEO algorithms.

So where was I? Ah yes that 1990 laser-etched 12″ extra-limited single of Enjoy The Silence. Off it went with its CD equivalent, the Japanese Violator CD, a grey German splatter vinyl of Never Let Me Down Again, a set of four unplayable 7″ picture discs never to be seen again. Yes I had a wedge of notes in my hand, but there was bad feeling in my gut. Fast-forward almost twenty years and I have a wedge of money in the bank and a refreshed desire to set my wrongs right and rebuild my DM collection and recover some of those lost items.

Discogs had the best prices for decent copies of the laser-etched XL 12″ version of Enjoy The Silence that were NM (near mint) graded. But here again I learned a lesson – ask for photos from the seller before rushing into costly purchases. The disc arrived, very well packaged, but in very poor condition. Near mint, my arse. The outer sleeve was ripped on at least two of the four edges where the disc had burst through and it was bent on a corner and it looked like a hype sticker had been removed pulling off a round cornered rectangle of the gloss coating. I was livid. How could someone mistreat such a beautiful object and have the gall to pass it off as NM. Shame.

But I took some deep breaths and queried the condition with the seller who gave me a discount. The disc itself is NM, but for me it’s about a combination of good cover/good disc, or actually VG+/VG+ for both. A few creases and bends in a cover of a record of that age is acceptable but I don’t want to see any tears. At the prices Depeche Mode vinyl is selling for it’s not too much to ask in my opinion.

I’m not being picky, Siggy agrees with me. I showed her the Enjoy The Silence 12″ and then a reasonably equivalently limited copy of Get The Balance Right And Live Tracks (L12BONG2) from 1983 (i.e. seven years older) that had arrived from eBay. The latter disc looked like it had just arrived from the boys in the factory and it had costs significantly less to buy.

Around this time a guy in Dundee started selling off his DM vinyl collection on eBay disc by disc. I’ve bought a few of his discs and he’s been kind enough to throw a few freebies my way too – 12″s that haven’t sold. He’s says he’s been surprised by some of the prices he’s got for his stuff, but I’m not – it’s in very good condition (here is someone who knows how to look after his stuff) and there’s a good mix of European and US limited or unofficial releases. I’ve been outbid on quite a few items, but them’s the breaks on eBay.

These purchases have included the US Maxi 12″ single of Strangelove which has two Bomb The Bass remixes on the A side and two remixes of Nothing by Chep Nunez on the B side; a German version of Master And Servant (An ON-USound Science Fiction Dance Hall Classic) which was a limited release in the UK; another ON-USound mix called Servant & Master Mix; and a curious mix of Strangelove labelled as DANCE BONG 13 but not an official Sire or Mute release. Strangelove is one of my favourite DM songs and I realised yesterday that I had overlooked something round at Left Legged’s house.

I had a memory of seeing a Strangelove CD single in a card case but for some reason dismissed it at the time. I already had a Strangelove CD single, but on closer inspection this was INT 826.862 a German import I think. So what was this cardboard sleeved thing?

I dropped him a line and he said I was free to pop round. I took some Queen vinyl with me that I knew he’d be interested in. I love Queen – they vie with DM in my mind as being my favourite band – but at the moment they’re relegated to second place and apart from my vinyl copy of Queen’s Greatest Hits which will go with me to my grave, I was happy to exchange Queen for more DM goodies if there were more to be had from within his labyrinthian storage facilities (i.e. his house and garage).

To cut a long story short I got some real doozies – rare interview promo CDs, a mysterious 1-track promo CD of Enjoy The Silence 04 – the cool remix they released to promote the Remixes boxed set – and of course the Strangelove CD Single which was simply Depeche Mode’s first foray into cardboard sleeved CD Singles being the, dare I say bog or bong standard, 5-track CDBONG13, albeit with orange/red text and a fabric insert sleeve. later that evening my guitar-playing plumber sent me a message to say he was interested in buying my copy of World of the News, I told him he was too late but Left Legged had a NM copy.

Along the way I have found an appreciation for some DM tracks that I had not listened too much at all previously. For instance Only When I Lose Myself and Martyr pretty much passed me by or were disregarded by me as filler tracks on albums I had bought for Siggy but hadn’t actually owned myself. Obviously those gaps in albums have been plugged now and it’s an interesting feeling to be able to buy a great album for only about £2.50 on CD, but see it selling for £25 on vinyl. And there lurking behind everything is Spotify.

But not everything is on Spotify. And who wants just invisible zeroes and ones when you can hold 180g pressings of iconic albums in your hands and listen to every track in the order they were meant to be listened to? I understand both sides of the argument and DM is the only band where I want to collect the actual physical objects (my willingness to part so easily with my Queen vinyl is an obvious indicator). My collection has ballooned in the last few weeks and there’s still more out there to be found… don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time…