Shake The Disease - Depeche Mode (Single)

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Shake The Disease - Depeche Mode (Single)

Genre: Alternative - Release Year: 1985

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Review of "Shake The Disease - Depeche Mode (Single)"

published 25/09/2010 | Hishyeness
Member since : 09/03/2009
Reviews : 214
Members who trust : 184
About me :
Checked Out. May pop back in from time to time. Best wishes and good luck. 8^)
Pro Depeche Mode at their lyrical, vocal, instrumental and melodic best.
Cons None for me, but then not everyone is a blinkered, myopic and hopelessly obsessed DM fan…
very helpful
Quality of Lyrics/Music
How does it compare to the artist's other releases?

"Mode, Misery and Miscommunication"

The cover art for the single (as it appears on the CD cover from the box set).

The cover art for the single (as it appears on the CD cover from the box set).

Here is a Plea

There are few bands that I have ever connected with as readily as Depeche Mode. They were the right band with the right sound in the right circumstances at the right time. Their music has often formed the soundtrack to my life, punctuating, accenting, and adding colour to people, places and things that were important to me. Martin Gore’s songs were a particular source of comfort during my teenage years, when I found it especially difficult to deal with my emotions. I tended to express them much better on paper, privately using poetry and writing as an outlet for my frustrations. However, spoken words often failed me, especially with the opposite sex. I longed for the ability and courage to act decisively and boldly on my feelings, but I always ended up tongue tied. In their illustrious twenty-plus year career (and still going strong), Depeche Mode have produced some beautiful, rich and meaningful songs that have spoken - seemingly directly - to my personal circumstances, but none has ever resonated with me as much as this song. Every single time I heard the chorus: “…you know how hard it is for me to shake the disease that takes hold of my tongue in situations like these…” I felt someone out there finally knew and understood what I was going through.

From My Heart To You

Somewhat ironically given the subject of the song, Shake the Disease was a single caught in limbo. It was originally written for Depeche Mode’s breakthrough album, Black Celebration, which many consider their finest work. However, it was ready well before the planned release date for the album. Instead, it featured as their thirteenth UK single in April 1985 and was used to promote their first “greatest hits“ compilation – unimaginatively called “The Singles 81 to 85”. The album was re-badged “Catching Up With Depeche Mode” in the USA with a slightly amended playlist that included the song “Flexible”, which also appeared on the B-side of the vinyl single release. Shake the Disease was subsequently included on their 2006 “Best Of - Volume One”, and features in their definitive CD singles box set (Box 3). The CD version includes two additional mixes of the song - the lengthy “Remixed Extended” version produced by Flood, and “Edit the Shake” with John Fryer. The single peaked at No.18 on the UK charts, sharing the spotlight with Tears for Fears, Go West, Madonna, Simple Minds and Bronski Beat. Typically for Depeche Mode, who have always fared much better abroad, the track was much more successful in Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. The 2006 remastered version from the "Best Of" is currently available on Amazon as an MP3 download for £ 0.89.
Nobody Knows Me

Shake the Disease is a perfect harmony of vocals, lyrics and instrumentation and is an exceedingly well constructed song. It starts with a wail. Nothing good normally starts with a wail. But this is a controlled wail, a wail with just a hint of a moan – a strangely piercing yet comforting sound that provides the atmospheric beginning to a song brimming with angst and tension. Martin Gore’s reverberating and echoing vocals give little away at the start of the track, but somehow set the tone perfectly for what follows. His naked and evocative exposition reaches deep down into your fibre and pulls at feelings and emotions you’d rather keep hidden. Having stirred the emotional pot, Gore retreats like a shadow into the background as first the drums, and then the keyboards, kick in. Front man David Gahan takes control of the song with his softly defiant narrative, his pleading and insistent tone cajoling and shepherding the song toward an uplifting and dynamic chorus with its catchy, melodic and repetitive hook. Throughout the song, Gore, whose voice has an ethereal, melancholy and almost feminine quality, weighs in occasionally, ebbing in and flowing out, slowly gaining in influence, and eventually trading lines with Gahan in the final verse.

As Well as You Do

Shake the Disease is about the need to be understood and the miscommunication so common in relationships. The singer wants his partner to truly know who he is, so that he won’t need words to make himself understood. In the context of the mid-eighties, an era which was all about power, strength, confidence and bravado (these were the years of shoulder pads, strip ties, and Maggie Thatcher) Gahan demonstrates a certain vulnerability, opening himself up in a way that contrasts sharply with societal expectations of men at the time. Perhaps even more surprisingly, this is a song that came from the band that gave us the explicit S&M Dom/Sub anthem “Master & Servant” and the controversial, God-bashing “Blasphemous Rumours” both of which immediately preceded Shake the Disease as Depeche Mode’s 11th and 12th singles (both released in 1985). This startling volte face had its detractors. Caroline Sullivan of Melody Maker reviewed the single shortly after its release in May 1995, caustically branding Depeche Mode as "Football hooligans as sensitive wimps."

It’s not all cap in hand vulnerability though – a streak of defiance, sometimes even ambivalence runs through the core of the song, a theme best illustrated by the memorable opening lyrics “I’m not going down on my knees begging you to adore me” – which rather suggests there is a limit to how much the protagonist is willing to open up. As good as they are, the lyrics (Gore) and vocals (predominantly Gahan) needed the right vehicle to be able to drive home the emotional impact of the song. This crucial platform is ably provided by the other two members of this band from Basildon, Alan Wilder and Andy Fletcher. Shake the Disease provides a perfect showcase for their sampling and composition skills. At first blush, it is a deceptively simple track, but as you listen carefully, you begin to unravel the many individual threads that make up its rich tapestry. This interweaving and experimentation with everyday sounds is especially apparent in the Remixed and Extended version of the song, where it is easy to see the beginnings of the unique industrial sound Depeche Mode made their own in the seminal 1996 “Black Celebration” album.

Understand Me

Shake the Disease is arguably the most complete song Depeche Mode have ever recorded, but despite the fact that it is a fan favourite, it rarely gets a run out on tour. Since Black Celebration in 1996, I have never missed any of their tours, but I have only ever heard Shake the Disease performed once. Martin Gore often performs an acoustic set of two or three songs during their concerts to give the uber-energetic David Gahan a breather from his on-stage exertions. Much to my surprise, at the O2 Arena on “The Tour of the Universe” last year, Gore performed a stripped back version of the song. Captured in a tight, bright spotlight, he tentatively plucked at his acoustic guitar - and then there it was.

It started with a wail.

Nothing good normally starts with a wail.

© Hishyeness 2010

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Comments on this review

  • JEFFJEN published 09/10/2010
    I love the way he sings 'understand me' it is an emotional plea almost. Good track - and review of course :)
  • atytyut2434 published 07/10/2010
    what else can i say than WOW ;-)
  • liolia79 published 04/10/2010
    Brilliant as usually! E!
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Product Information : Shake The Disease - Depeche Mode (Single)

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Genre: Alternative - Release Year: 1985

Product Details

Genre: Alternative

Release Year: 1985


Listed on Ciao since: 23/09/2010