On November 11th, 1985, British synth-pop sensations Depeche Mode were more broadly introduced to the US market with the compilation album Catching Up With Depeche Mode.
The name of the compilation is to be taken quite literally – Since People Are People (the single and the compilation album) turned out to be a big hit in the US, Sire Records wanted to popularize the band a little more with a compilation album that collects the band’s material from 1981 to 1985, and it was released at the same time as the band’s first (European) singles collection The Singles 81→85, that compiled every single the band released to that date. Different from that, Catching Up With Depeche Mode contained album tracks as well, trying to give the US audience a good overview on the band’s effort – including the B-sides tracks Fly On The Windscreen and Flexible.
The compilation gives an overview about the first four albums of the band, Speak and Spell, A Broken Frame, Construction Time Again and Some Great Reward—albums that display the Synth Pop side of Depeche Mode before they eventually turned to darker territories of electronic music with albums like Black Celebration, Violator and Music For The Masses. The tracks featured on the compilation are some of the best known Depeche Mode songs from that era – the three Vince Clarke composed singles New Life, Just Can’t Get Enough and Dreaming of Me are followed up by Martin Gore’s takes on Synth Pop – Songs like Blasphemous Rumours, Get The Balance Right or Shake The Disease are some of the finest tracks Martin Gore composed at that time, and the quality of Fly On The Windscreen, originally a B-Side track for It’s Called a Heart (that isn’t included on Catching Up With Depeche Mode), displays how creative the band was in their early days – and shows how much the value of a B side has shrunk since the 80s, like the value of the Single format itself in times of digital releases.
It’s not too far off to say that Catching Up With Depeche Mode pioneered the band’s way towards dominating the US audience, and is a milestone on the band’s way to worldwide success and popularity, and being one of the most respected and influential Synth bands of all time. In 1985, after they conquered the continent, the band began their takeover stateside (which the help of MTV and KROQ).
Videos of tracks featured on Catching Up with Depeche Mode:
Dreaming of Me
Just Can’t Get Enough
The Meaning of Love
Love, in Itself
Master and Servant
Shake the Disease
It’s Called a Heart