Jim Farber
December 10, 1993 AT 05:00 AM EST

Songs of Faith and Devotion (Live)

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a F

How many times has the following thought occurred to you: If only I could buy the exact same album I bought eight months ago, only this time the singer would croon everything with a sore throat and at certain points would shout things like ”Come On!” and ”How ya doin’?” Such intrusions represent the only alterations human ears can detect between Depeche Mode’s new concert album, Songs of Faith and Devotion (Live), and the platter they released earlier this year under the same name but without the ”Live” caveat.

If nothing else, this is a first. What other act would think to issue live versions of every track from an earlier album, in the exact order the songs originally appeared? To be fair, the group did bother to add some backup singers, warbling ever-so-slightly off-key, and frontman Dave Gahan does manage to out-Wayne Newton Newton himself on ”Condemnation.” If Gahan’s bellow often carries a gothic grandeur, on this track it spurts the oil of a Las Vegas ham.

Since this is a Mode release, of course, any number of pretentious rationales can be concocted for the general audio deja vu. Maybe it’s supposed to represent a cunning comment on mass production. Or to ironically mock the concept of pop originality in the ’90s. One thing it couldn’t possibly represent: greed.

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