Master And Servant

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6. Somebody
7. Master And Servant
List of Some Great Reward songs
8. If You Want
Master And Servant
Song Master And Servant
By Depeche Mode
Songwriter Martin L. Gore
Produced by Depeche Mode
Daniel Miller
Gareth Jones
Recorded at Music Works (Highbury, London)
Hansa Mischraum (Berlin)
Length (mm:ss) 4:12 (album version)
3:46 (7"/single version)
3:27 (edit)
9:38 (12" version)
Tempo 128 BPM
Time signature 4
Key B♭ Minor
Engineering assistance Ben Ward
Stefi Marcus
Colin McMahon
Design Martyn Atkins
David A. Jones
Photography Brian Griffin
Photography assistance Stuart Graham
Recorded May 1984
Originally released 14 August 1984
Live performances as Depeche Mode 370 times *
Total live performances 370 times *

"Master And Servant" is a song from the 1984 album Some Great Reward by Depeche Mode. It was released as a single on 14 August 1984.


Martin Gore said in the commentary track on the DVD of '101' in 2003:

"I wrote ['Master And Servant'] around 1985 [sic]. Around that time I was going out to quite a few S&M clubs and stuff, and I just started seeing a correlation between what's happening there and life and politics and stuff. And it's [where] just this idea, this germ of an idea, started."

Martin also told Martin Townsend of VOX magazine in 1993:

"I think I've always written nice songs. Even when I've been accused of being depressing, I think the songs have always shown the light at the end of the tunnel.. 'Master And Servant' is the one that people will pick out, because they think it's just about S&M. If you analyse it, it's not.

He also said in the 1984-10-20 issue of No. 1 Magazine:

"It's not as drastic as you might think. It's about domination and exploitation in life, but it uses sex. It's about the power that people employ in work, love, hate... and in sex. We just used the sexual angle to portray it."

However, in this radio interview from 1984 he says something totally different:

"If you wanna know where I first got the idea [for the song], it's when I was reading a newspaper before about a man who was named "the Notthinghill murderer". He would take these young gays to his flat and murder them. And it sort of struck me - this game, I found it very interesting - he used to play this game, "master and servant" with them."

Quotes from the documentary on the DVD of the Some Great Reward remaster from 2006:

Daniel Miller: "The monster of the album in terms of - there's always one monster on the album in terms of getting it finished, is Master And Servant. I suppose there was a bit of a reaction after the success of People Are People. "Oh, we're going too poppy, Dan, we gotta be careful", which is good, which is correct. And think we didn't make a conscious effort to make... We felt that the next single had to be a lot harder, a lot kind of... and different, again."

Alan Wilder: "We spent a lot of time on that track. Not just recording it - it was quite complicated - but also when we came to mixing, I think we spent, like, 7 days on the mix."

Daniel Miller: "I remember being up all night with Gareth, on the last night, editing the tapes, and the tape all over the room, and I remember leaving in the morning to go to the airport, and there had been this huge snowstorm overnight, it was really freezing, it was 7 in the morning, and I had been up for, like, 3 days. Because everything was late, I had not been able to play the tracks to anybody. So, I arranged for them to come to the mastering room, we were listening through it, and the last chorus came in, and something weird was happening. And we realised that the snare drum had been left out. We spent 10 days mixing the track, and it was so complicated, we were so burnt by the end of it, that we hadn't noticed that we'd muted out the snare drum. We sort of sat around for about five minutes, "What are we gonna do? Are we going to re-mix it?" and everybody said, "No, nobody will notice.""

Alan Wilder wrote in his Singles 81>85 editorial:

Though M+S proved another success for Depeche Mode, it is somewhat surprising considering the unfortunate incidents that dogged the recording. Released at the same time as Frankie Goes To Hollywood's massive hit, 'Relax', the aim was to emulate the same "fat, round bass sound". So desperate were the studio team to achieve this that "we went completely up our arses and ended up with exactly the opposite, topping it all off at the end of a 7 day mix by leaving out a small detail....the snare drum."

"The cost of this crucial omission was realised when Gareth and Dan hot-footed it down to a local Berlin club one night, armed with a test pressing and fully expecting to blow the local's minds. By the law of sod, the track came on straight after the pounding bass of 'Relax'. Not surprisingly, it cleared the dance floor, leaving both of them standing, red-faced in their raincoats, clutching their briefcases. Then again, it was quite a laugh recording it - if you listen very carefully, as well as the whip sounds, you can hear two Basildon girls singing 'Treat me like a dog'."

Dave Gahan tells in the summer 1984 issue of Star Hits magazine the unusual sounds used in the recording of this song:

"We've got a whip, an air compressor from a builder's nail gun, a water drop, a toy piano and you can hear Andy being spanked by Martin."

When asked in 2009 what the strangest sound was that they ever recorded, Andy Fletcher told Uncle Sally*s magazine (translated from German):

"I was once whipped. The result can be heard on 'Master And Servant'. That was really strange."

The 1984-09-22 issue of Melody Maker reports that some of the sounds on 'Master And Servant', such as the whip effect, are based on Daniel Miller standing in the studio hissing and spitting; then an unnamed band member is quoted as saying, "we tried to sample a real whip but it was hopeless."

When Depeche Mode was interviewed about the songs on the '101' CD for the April 1989 issue of French magazine 'Best', Dave Gahan said (translated from French):

"Ever since we recorded it, we have always played 'Master And Servant' on stage. As soon as the first chords are heard, the audience recognises it. It is the hymn of Depeche Mode. It's a bit of an equivalent to what 'Baba O'Riley' is for The Who."

Studio outtake

This outtake has some female backing vocals which are not present in the final album version. The vocals were contributed by Inga & Annette Humpe, aka Humpe Humpe. They were recording their debut album at Hansa Studios at the same time Depeche Mode were recording "Some Great Reward".


Master And Servant

There's a new game

We like to play you see

A game with added reality

You treat me like a dog

Get me down on my knees

We call it master and servant

We call it master and servant

It's a lot like life

This play between the sheets

With you on top and me underneath

Forget all about equality

Let's play master and servant

Let's play master and servant

It's a lot like life

And that's what's appealing

If you despise that throwaway feeling

From disposable fun

Then this is the one

Domination's the name of the game

In bed or in life

They're both just the same

Except in one you're fulfilled

At the end of the day

Let's play master and servant

Let's play master and servant

Let's play master and servant

Come on master and servant

Songwriter: Martin L. Gore
Publishing Information: ©1984 Grabbing Hands Music Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Music video

Live performances

Main article: Available recordings of "Master And Servant"
Main article: List of dates where "Master And Servant" was played

Live versions

This section provides an example of a live version of Master And Servant from each tour that it was played.

1981-1985: Dreaming Of MeNew LifeJust Can't Get EnoughSee YouThe Meaning Of Love
Leave In SilenceGet The Balance RightEverything CountsLove In ItselfPeople Are PeopleMaster And ServantBlasphemous Rumours / SomebodyShake The DiseaseIt's Called A Heart
1986-1989: StrippedBut Not TonightA Question Of LustA Question Of TimeStrangelove
Never Let Me Down AgainBehind The WheelLittle 15Personal Jesus
1990-1998: Enjoy The SilencePolicy Of TruthWorld In My EyesI Feel YouWalking In My ShoesCondemnationIn Your RoomBarrel Of A GunIt's No GoodHomeUseless
Only When I Lose Myself
2001-2009: Dream OnI Feel LovedFreeloveGoodnight LoversPreciousA Pain That I'm Used To
Suffer WellJohn The Revelator / LilianMartyrWrongPeaceFragile Tension / Hole To Feed
2013-2017: HeavenSoothe My SoulShould Be HigherWhere's The RevolutionGoing Backwards
Cover Me
2023: Ghosts Again
1992-1998: Faith HealerDriftingStalker / Missing Piece
2000-2008: Strange HoursJezebelPreyAllelujah
2003-2008: Dirty Sticky FloorsI Need YouBottle Living / Hold OnA Little PieceKingdomSaw Something / Deeper And Deeper
2012-2015: Longest DayTake Me Back HomeAll Of This And NothingShine
1989-2003: CompulsionStardustLoverman
2012-2015: SpockSingle BlipAftermathsEuropa Hymn • "Pinking" (Christoffer Berg Remix)
Official releases