It was thirty years ago this month that Depeche Mode's second single New Life was released, beginning it's steady progress into the charts and effectively becoming the Basildon band's breakthrough single. 'New life' and indeed new blood was effectively brought onto the music scene, which notwithstanding the odd post-punk quirk such as Adam Ant, Toyah, Ultravox or The Specials, was still very much dominated by Americano disco - Jacko, Smokey, Odyssey, Champagne et al or Radio-2 friendly MOR homegrown pop-pap such as Shakin' Steves, Bucks Fizz, Elaine Paige, Phil Collins and so on and so forth.
We may think of 1981 as the year of shiny new synth pop but save for The Human League's Sound of the Crowd, already slipping away, and, say, Landscape, the all electronic-pop genre was still pretty much in its infancy and had yet to be embraced by the general public or even the yoof of the day.
That said, Britain was slowly awakening from it's seventies tupor and pop culture was starting to become a little more colourful. "Funny clothes" weren't a problem as we'd already had Spandau Ballet. 'Poofy' haircuts too had already been broken in by Duran Duran, so enter the-even-more-poofily-named Depeche Mode who, like The Human League before them, confounded TOTP cameras with the no guitarist or drummer line-up and did their damn hardest to get the audience to dance along with them, clumsy as they were themselves.
Despite being catchy, danceable and inevitably chantable, the Mode's breakthough single was still very much an uphill struggle, and took a full 8 weeks to reach its peak in August, even then just failing to reach the Top 10. But it was still early days for what was to become one of Britain's biggest music exports. Little did they know that as they famously lugged their hefty keyboards around on London trains to reach the BBC studios (there would be two more TOTP appearances of New Life as well as other pop shows), the Basildon boys (save for Vince Clarke) would one day be playing to crowded stadia worldwide.
True to the band and producer Daniel Miller's innovative form, both New Life and the B side Shout! were among the first ever tracks to be given the extended remix treatment, and issued as a 12" single, a trademark which holds true to this day with their second triple CD remix compilation just out, thirty years on. Operating, generating....