Music for the Masses is the sixth studio album by Depeche Mode. It was released by Mute Records on 28 September 1987. The album became the band's highest-charting in the US upon its release, reaching #35 on the Billboard 200. It also contained more hit singles than any of their previous releases. While there was no extremely popular single from the album ("People Are People" from Some Great Reward reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100), the three singles that were released all made it onto the Hot 100, a feat that hadn't been achieved by any Depeche Mode single after those from Some Great Reward. Moreover, all three singles achieved modest success on the chart.
Although the titles to several of the tracks may be the same as those at Broad Chalke, the performance in front of a large audience has a much grander and at times, darker feel, to the previous evening. The difference can be heard almost immediately in the opening track. Whereas, The Apparent Chaos of Stone was a more languorous affair at Broad Chalke, here at Bishop’s Cleeve, Fripp begins to throw some startling curve-balls of pensive guitar after only a few minutes. Given the slow silky tones that makes up much of the opening piece it can be easy to miss some of the detailed interplay that occurs between the two players.
As the League head north, possibly chastened by the previous evening’s encounter with a mouthy fan in London, there’s only a rather fleeting stage announcement from Fripp tonight. There’s a business-like feel to the concert which is not to say that it’s in any way deficient or lacking. Rather, the band maintain a tight focus on the notes perhaps rather than it’s spirit. Major hits are scored with Hepataparaparshinokh and the wild-card sorties that are Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx I & II have the effect of bulldozing aside any doubts or worries about such matters.
With the departure of vocalist John Foxx and guitarist Robin Simon behind them, Vienna kicked off Ultravox's second phase with former Rich Kids vocalist Midge Ure at the helm. Trading Foxx's glam rock stance for Ure's aristocratic delivery, Vienna recasts the band as a melodramatic synth pop chamber ensemble with most of the group doubling on traditional string quartet instruments and the synthesizers often serving to emulate an orchestra. It was a bold move that took awhile to pay off (the first two singles, "Sleepwalk" and "Passing Strangers," went unnoticed), but when the monolithic title track was released, the Ure lineup became the band's most identifiable one almost overnight.