One of Depeche Mode's few non-album singles, "Shake the Disease" is also one of the band's best overall songs, a new refinement of both Martin Gore's lyrical abilities regarding romantic obsession and the group's music in general. The arrangement is at once sly, sensuous, and just harsh enough, a combination of clattering noise samples and soothing synth wash and melody. The intertwining of David Gahan and Gore's singing, the latter's wordless backing harmonies and crooned "Understand me" from time to time (a perfect balance to the former's lead approach), is just lovely. The "remixed extended" version of the song that surfaces is just that and not much more, though the extension of the overall atmosphere of the song, cool and sharp at once, makes for a pleasant mood-setter. Some of the new instrumental-only parts are quite elegant in context. The "edit the shake" remix is much more of a thorough revision, with odd stutters and repetitions, backward echoes, and so forth. It makes it not quite as danceable, but is inventive enough regardless. The B-side was one of the band's odder numbers, "Flexible," a quick semi-romp with what sounds like a distorted/looped harmonica as the lead instrument backed by banjo. It's pleasant, just not great, and as such makes much more sense as a B-side. Its own "remixed extended" version brings out more of the separate elements used to create the song, which is interesting in its own way, but like the original song itself, not deathless. Wrapping up the CD version of the release is the "metal" mix of Some Great Reward track "Something to Do" -- it's a great take, and lives up to its name by emphasizing the metal-clanging samples and melodies created from said samples, nervous and wired.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett