Happy 51st, Depeche Mode's Martin Gore: A Birthday Playlist

Today is the 51st birthday of Depeche Mode's Martin Gore, and here's to hoping he's around for another 51 years because he remains an amazingly talented songwriter and performer. You simply can't say anything bad about the man who gave us "Personal Jesus," unless you want to gently whack him for that Marilyn Manson cover. Doesn't change the genius of the original though.

Though he is the primary songwriter in the band, it's Dave Gahan's voice that you associate with all the group's big hits. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Gahan has the vocal cords of a living god, and the word is infinitely better for having him in it belting out "Blasphemous Rumours" and "John the Revelator."

Still, on occasion Gore takes the lead vocals on songs. Since it's his special day I thought I'd put together a playlist celebrating his turns out in front. Black celebrating, even! Here's to you, sir.

"World Full of Nothing": For my money, 1986's Black Celebration is the best Depeche Mode album. Coincidentally, it's also the album that Gore comes closest to be the band's lead singer. Of its 11 tracks, he leads on four and duets with Gahan on two.

"Judas": If I had to pick a favorite Depeche Mode song I'd pick "Policy of Truth" because that's the correct answer, but my favorite song has always been "Judas." I don't know if it's about demanding someone indulge in BDSM, embrace God or the temptation of Satan himself. Frankly, I wonder if Gore knows the answer. It's a dark, operatic work that still sends chills up my spine.

"In My Other World": Gore put out a covers record called Counterfeit in 2003 full of tunes that had greatly influenced him. I was already aware of his rendition of "Loverman" from Nick Cave, but I damn near crapped myself when I saw he'd included a Julee Cruise song. Unfortunately, it's not one of the David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti composed songs.

Indeed, it's the only song from either of Cruise's first too albums that she recorded without the powerful director/composer duo. While I would happily murder to hear Gore sing "The World Spins," he brings "In My Other World" to a whole new level. Not easy when tackling someone like Julee Cruise.

"The Sun and the Moon and the Stars": This B-side off DM's last record, 2009's Sounds of the Universe, takes a bit to get going, but if you'll bear with it to the chorus you can really dig into the track's depth. Another ode to the unbearable agony of physical loneliness.

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"Somebody": Though I didn't want to bring up too many of the big hits, there is no getting around the fact that "Somebody" from 1984's Some Great Reward is one of the most romantic songs ever written. I should know, it was the song that I had played at my wedding to welcome the bridesmaids before seeing the vision that was my future wife.

This got a little awkward when I realized that the song is really just about pillow-talking your way into someone's pants. Fun fact: Gore recorded vocals for "Somebody" in the nude.

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