Depeche Mode

Behind the Wheel

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On its own, "Behind the Wheel" was and is a prime Depeche Mode single. It's a massive building surge of a song that just gets more intense as it goes, translating the freeway/driving metaphor of the title into an appropriately propulsive song that is something like the arena version of Kraftwerk's own meditations on same. Remixed slightly for its single appearance, with a quicker running time and a more prominent, cleaner main percussion, it's still fine stuff, with Martin Gore's tale of emotional control and direction still all in one piece. Shep Pettibone's extended remix is a good effort -- clean and clinical and perfect for the dancefloor -- while the Beatmasters ratchet up the drama of the track with phone calls samples, rougher beats, and a new, nervous string-synth line. What makes this single and the song itself even more notable in its own right is due to the B-side -- a take on the old mid-century standard "Route 66." While the choice of inspiration may seem odd, the band's arrangement and delivery of same works surprisingly well, with a rough drum-machine rhythm underpinning Gore's work on both vocals and snarling guitar riffs. It feels like something thrown together to see what would stick, but works all the better for it, a retooling of the past for the future, with a brief snippet of music from "Behind the Wheel" thrown in the middle on top of everything else. This in turn led to a separate mix of both tracks combined that won the band mainstream American radio airplay. That specific mix isn't here, but two others are -- the Beatmasters take a spin with it while throwing in tons of car racing and game show samples along the way, while the "casualty" mix kicks up some more reasonable noise and groove.

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