More Than a Box Set

I’ve had a slew of gift cards and certificates in my possession from Christmas and my birthday that, for the life of me, I couldn’t find the urge to spend.

I would walk around GameStop like a penniless and dateless high-schooler on a Friday night ogling the shelves just searching for something, anything to take home with me, the major differences being that I wasn’t broke and have a wife to spend my Friday evenings with.

But no matter how hard I tried, nothing in that store jumped out at me.

“Wait for a big purchase” is what I’d keep telling myself. I saw no need to blow these gift cards on toiletries, dog food or some obscure collection of game accessories I’d use once and forget about. Impulsive buys were definitely out of the question. The purchase had to be worth the effort.

Well, the time has arrived–for the Target gift cards, at least.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have finally found what I want–no, need–to spend my Target gift cards on. But before I get into that, be warned that this post may be rather lengthy so go grab a drink, put on your Snuggieclick here for some fitting background music, then come back here and click “Read More…” to continue.

Music playing? Warm and Snuggie? Ready? Okay then, let’s go.

This here is what I pre-ordered today (click to slightly embiggen image):


The Depeche Mode Sounds of the Universe Deluxe Box Set Edition. 3 CDs with the full album, bonus tracks, remixes and demos spread out amongst them. 1 DVD with behind-the-scenes footage, studio sessions, and a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the album. All packaged in a tidy little box that also contains booklets, lyrics, exclusive photographs by Anton Corbijn, badges, art cards, a poster and more. (Full specs and other versions, which includes a 2 LP/1 CD release, can be seen here.)

All this for the initial offering of $99.99 but is subject to change (at least from what I understand by the pre-order e-mail confirmation I received).

(‘scuse me while I clean up the drool from my keyboard.)

Now go ahead and call me crazy. I really don’t care. But the fact is that this is not the first time I dropped some serious money on a Depeche Mode collection. In 1991, I spent almost $300 on their extremely limited-edition X1 and X2 sets from Japan. Because of the price, I listened to them quite infrequently just to avoid scratching them but once I discovered the magic of CD ripping, they found new life in digital form. The sets now sit on my CD shelf with all of my others, but they get the face-out treatment they truly deserve. All files live on my iPod.

So as you can probably gather, and although I don’t mention it much here, I’m a Depeche Mode fan. Seen them every tour since 1987. Have lots of stuff. Met them in 1990. That means I’m not one of those that looks quizzically at you when you mention the name “Depeche Mode” in the year 2009. Say what you want, but they are one of the few bands from that era that is still releasing material and touring on their own, and not part of some wandering 80s revival/retro troup playing to slack-jawed yokels at county fairs. I guess that’s what happens when you sell over 100 million records worldwide.

That said, however, this does not mean that I think everything they’ve done is solid gold. In fact, I think that Exciter is hands-down their worst album. It’s anything but exciting and with forgettable lyrics like “We’re the horniest boys / we’re the corniest boys / Who take the easiest girls / To our sleaziest worlds,” it’s easy to see why. Simply awful.

Depeche Mode has been around for almost 30 years and have come a long way in that time. They have no Grammys, no star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, nothing noteworthy to speak of stateside–except for filling the Rose Bowl in 1988 (with me and some friends in the crowd). But they are the only band that I will gladly consider spending some money on whenever they release something new, as is the case with the multiple formats of their forthcoming album.

This, friends, is what I happily spent my Target gift cards on. And it will be well worth the price when it arrives.

As far as the GameStop cards go, I’m still the broke, penniless teenager looking for some Friday night company. Or am I?

And unfortunately, seeing them live this year may be out of the question. They are playing the Hollywood Bowl which is not one of my favorite venues because the atmosphere and parking are absolutely horrendous. It’s just a step above the Greek Theatre, which I’ve also been to and which also sucks. Besides, I’m expecing ticket prices to be astronomical and for the show to be sold out quickly because of the Bowl’s small seating capacity (when compared to previous tour venues).

But ah, there may be hope. My employer gets seasonal tickets for the Hollywood Bowl’s Summer Series of concerts which run until September. Depeche Mode is scheduled to play there in August. 

Whether we get tickets for that show is anybody’s guess, but I know one thing: that box set is freakin’ killer.

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