Depeche Mode

Personal Jesus

Song Review by

One of the Depeche songs that seemingly everyone knows -- in large part thanks to blanket MTV coverage and record sales in late 1989 and early 1990 -- "Personal Jesus" saw Depeche tackling the ridiculous canard that "bands without guitars don't make real music" with vicious gusto. That Depeche had always used guitars in one form or another -- or that guitars or lack thereof don't determine quality -- had been ignored by said doubters, who had to swallow their words as the group's knowing revamp of an old blues lick became a smash hit. Starting with a soft two-note guitar chime, a massive overdubbed vocal echoes up -- "Reach out, touch faith!" -- and the song is off, its distinct, big but shuffling rhythm created from samples of the band stomping on travel cabinets. Compared to the busy arrangements of recent songs like "Strangelove" and "Never Let Me Down," "Personal Jesus" is a touch more spare, its extras more suggested in the mix than overtly calling attention to themselves, like the simple bass stabs or the brief orchestral swirls on the chorus. Otherwise, it's all beat, Martin Gore's not-a-note-wasted guitar twangs and slides and David Gahan's seductive delivery of a lyric inspired by Priscilla Presley's relationship with Elvis.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1989 Mute
Violator 1990 Mute 4:55
Just Say Da: Volume IV of Just Say Yes 1990
Various Artists
Sire 4:17
Heavens in Motion 1990 Castle Music Ltd. 6:15
Strange Too 1990 Warner Reprise Video 0:00
Une Nuit a La Mode, Vol. 1 1990 Antilles 7:12
No Image 1990 Antilles 0:00
No Image 1991
Various Artists
Tommy Boy
MTV Party to Go, Vol. 1 1991
Various Artists
Tommy Boy 5:40
Never Mind the Main Stream: The Best of MTV's 120 Minutes, Vol. 2 1991
Various Artists
Rhino 3:43
No Image 1991 Arista 0:00
X1 Disc 2: The Twelve Inches (Zwei) 1991 Arista 5:31
X1 Disc 3: The Twelve Inches (Trois) 1991 Arista 5:49
X1 [Box] 1991 Sire
No Image 1993 ADD Records 5:45
Pop & Wave, Vol. 5: The Neverending 80's [#2] 1994
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:55
Pop & Wave, Vol. 5: The Neverending 80's [#1] 1994
Various Artists
Columbia 4:55
Best Album in the World...Ever! Vol. 1 1995
Various Artists
Circa / Virgin 3:44
Sounds of the Eighties: The Rolling Stone Collection, 1988-1989 1995
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:57
Untitled, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Global 3:43
Now: 1989 [1999] 1998
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI 3:44
The Singles 86>98 1998 Mute / Reprise
Videos 1986-1998 1998 Warner Bros.
Speciale Sanremo 1999 1999
Various Artists
Warner Fronit 3:44
The Singles 81>98 2001 EMI 3:46
Sorted! 40 Madchester Baggy Anthems 2002 Ministry Of Sound 3:32
Videos 86>98+ 2002 Mute
Platinum 80s 2002
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:46
Dark Side of the 80s 2003
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 3:42
Singles Box, Vol. 4 2004 Reprise / Mute 7:50
Singles Box, Vol. 5 2004 Reprise / Mute 6:00
Remixes 81>04 2004 Reprise 7:47
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas [Box Set] 2004
Original Game Soundtrack
Geffen 4:53
Remixes, Vol. 5: Francois Kevorkian 2005 Disky Dance 6:37
The Ultimate Bands: The Classic Anthems 2006
Various Artists
EMI / Virgin TV
The Best Of, Vol. 1 2006 Reprise / Sire / Mute
Revolutions in Sound: Warner Bros. Records - The First 50 Years 2008
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 3:45
Epic: Bands Tracks & Anthems 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:44
Torhout Werchter 21
Various Artists
Polygram TV