Depeche Mode

Barrel of a Gun

Song Review by

The stomping, pungent excellence of "Barrel of a Gun" seems an unlikely fit on the otherwise subtle Ultra, but when Depeche Mode achieves a violent darkness as tangible as the one here, it's hard to complain. With Alan Wilder on a permanent leave of absence, it's up to producer Tim Simenon to fill the holes. And that he does with aplomb, helping the band to forge an eclectic, shaking racket as vital and edgy as that of his own Bomb the Bass project. The heart of the song is distortion. A scuzzy guitar punctuates the entire song, Dave Gahan's vocals are tweaked, fuzzy, and perfectly demented, and unsettling electronic percolations zip back and forth over a slow monotonous beat. Martin Gore's lyrics display a stream-of-conscious, almost schizophrenic sense of unease, setting a tone that must have gone over quite easily with a then-veering-out-of-control Gahan. Director Anton Corbijn's creepy music video featured Gahan scrambling around easily with false eyes painted on his eyelids, creating a thoroughly appropriate visual metaphor for the song. When "Barrel of a Gun" was released as a single, there was a general uproar from some longtime fans. They worried out loud, however ridiculously, that Depeche Mode was jumping on the electronica bandwagon. Seeing as how Depeche Mode was from its humble beginning a keyboard band, such claims were and are meaningless. The song follows in the same genius, grimy dance-rock tradition the band had almost single-handedly created with such classics as "Behind the Wheel," "Never Let Me Down Again," and "Personal Jesus." Despite the fact that it seems jarring on the beautiful, restrained Ultra, "Barrel of a Gun" is vintage Depeche Mode.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Barrel of a Gun 1997 Reprise 9:36
Hits Album '97 1997
Various Artists
Ultra 1997 Reprise 5:35
No Image 1997
Various Artists
Mushroom Records
Bravo Hits, Vol. 16 1997
Various Artists
Electrola 5:30
The Best of the Best '97 1997
Various Artists
Dance Nation, Vol. 3 1998
Various Artists
Ministry Of Sound 8:16
The Singles 86>98 1998 Mute / Reprise
Videos 1986-1998 1998 Warner Bros.
The Singles 81>98 2001 EMI 5:27
Videos 86>98+ 2002 Mute
Back to Mine 2003 DMC 4:34
Singles Box, Vol. 6 2004 Mute / Reprise
Remixes 81>04 2004 Reprise 9:36
The Work of Director Anton Corbijn [DVD] 2005
Various Artists
The Best Of, Vol. 1 2006 Reprise / Sire / Mute
Top of the Pops 1997 2008
Various Artists
EMI 5:23
Top of the Pops Collection [43 CD] 2008
Various Artists
100 Essential Tracks: Alternative
Various Artists
Sony Music
Jazz Cafe, Vol. 2 [Urban Bit]
Various Artists
Urban Bit 6:27