Milestones, Video — March 19, 2010 at 12:28 am

Milestones: Depeche Mode’s classic ‘Violator’ released exactly 20 years ago today

Depeche Mode, 'Violator' ad

Milestones is a periodic feature marking important album releases, concerts and figures in the history of ’80s college rock.

RELEASE: Depeche Mode, Violator

RELEASE DATE: March 19/20, 1990

PERSONNEL: Dave Gahan (vocals), Martin Gore (keyboard, guitar, vocals), Alan Wilder (programming, drums), Andrew Fletcher (keyboard); co-produced with Flood.

SINGLES: “Personal Jesus” (No. 13 on UK singles chart, No. 28 on U.S. singles chart, No, 3 on U.S. modern rock chart), “Enjoy the Silence” (No. 6/No. 8/No. 6), “Policy of Truth” (No. 16/No. 15/No. 2), “World in My Eyes” (No. 17/No. 52/No. 6)

BACKSTORY: Depeche Mode’s seventh album sealed the deal, turning an increasingly popular cult act into global superstars. The buzz started early, with DM issuing the record’s first single — the thumping,  guitar-driven “Personal Jesus” — nearly seven months ahead of the album. By the time Violator arrived, “Enjoy the Silence” also was a worldwide smash (it remains the band’s only Top 10 single in the U.S.). The peak of DM mania came 20 years ago Saturday, when the band’s appearance at a Wherehouse record store in Los Angeles on the day of Violator’s U.S. release sparked a near-riot (see video below).

THE MUSIC: As for the record itself, it’s a near-perfect effort; concise, at just nine tracks, Violator is deliberately paced, hitting on cold, precise electronics (“World in My Eyes,” “Halo,” “Clean”), soaring pop (“Enjoy the Silence”) and dirty electro-rock (“Policy of Truth”) while still managing a dark intimacy (“Waiting for the Night”). It’s an artistic peak that Depeche Mode hasn’t been able to replicate since.

REISSUED? Yes. In 2006, Mute Records released a remastered edition of the album in CD/DVD and vinyl formats; for the CD sets — it was actually an SACD in Europe — the bonus DVD featured the entire album mixed in 5.1 surround, Violator-era B-sides such as “Dangerous” and “Memphisto,” and a short documentary.

See full tracklist for ‘Violator′ and video of the Wherehouse riots after the jump…

Depeche Mode, 'Violator'

Tracklist: Depeche Mode, Violator

1. “World in My Eyes”
2. “Sweetest Perfection”
3. “Personal Jesus”
4. “Halo”
5. “Waiting for the Night”
6. “Enjoy the Silence”
(“Interlude #2 – Crucified”)
7. “Policy of Truth”
8. “Blue Dress”
(“Interlude #3”)
9. “Clean”




  1. OMG. I was 18 when this happened and I can’t believe 20 years has passed. I just watched the news footage and had the exact same reaction I did the first time I saw this on the news 20 years ago. OH MY GOD THAT’S CRAZY!! lol. What memories!

  2. I completely agree with you, in fact I wrote a piece myself. I should have known you’d do the same.

  3. rubberwench

    That’s hilarious. How to not have a clue. Hot new British group? Progressive techno pop? Postmodern Group? Rock stars? And then there’s the hair.
    TV reporters eh…
    And could none of them actually manage an interview with the band? Andy Fletcher RANG the radio station. How hard can it be?

  4. It’s good to see fellow fans marking this hugely important milestone. I plan on doing a tribute as well so long as the weekend cooperates.

  5. I was there at the Wherehouse, ditching class and waiting for 10 hours with my friends in the hopes I might actually get an autograph. Yeah right! It was still a great and momentous day and I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. I still have my receipt from purchasing Violator on CASSETTE, too bad I can’t upload it here. Thanks DM!

  6. That just blows my mind! I remember buying this the first day it went onsale! Then seeing them that August at Dodger Stadium. I refuse to believe I am that old..

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