Master And Servant

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Martin Gore 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.

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

Martin Gore: "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."

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."

The Face magazine reported in February 1985:

[...] One of the most popular drum sounds on the Fairlight computer, for instance - the machine used by Trevor Horn to create many of Frankie's sounds - is that of Led Zeppelin...

Alan Wilder: "We nicked..."

Andy Fletcher: "Shhh!" Alan Wilder: "No, I don't mind admitting it. We nicked a beat off one of Frankie's records and stuck it on our 12-inch. But I mean the actual sound, not the idea. It's not a drum sound that sells a record anyway, it's the whole song and the musical ideas. [...]"

Electronics & Music Maker magazine then reported in 1986:

In response to a complaint that Depeche Mode stole a Frankie Goes To Hollywood drum sound, Frankie's engineers replied that the Frankie drum sound was actually a Linn - itself a recording!

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 that what 'Baba O'Riley' is for The Who."

Dates with available recordings of Master And Servant

There are currently 263 recordings of Master And Servant available.

Dates where Master And Servant was played

1984-1985 Some Great Reward Tour

Master And Servant was played 81 times during this tour.

1986 Black Celebration Tour

Master And Servant was played 75 times during this tour.

1987-1988 Music For The Masses Tour

Master And Servant was played 101 times during this tour.

1990 World Violation Tour

Master And Servant was played 89 times during this tour.

1993 Devotional Tour

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

1994 Exotic Tour

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

1997 Ultra Parties

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

1998 The Singles Tour

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

2001 Exciter Tour

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

2003 Paper Monsters Tour (Dave Gahan solo)

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

2003 "A Night With Martin L. Gore" (Martin L. Gore solo)

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

2005-2006 Touring The Angel

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

2009-2010 Tour Of The Universe

Master And Servant was played 25 times during this tour.

2013-2014 Delta Machine Tour

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.

2017-2018 Global Spirit Tour

  • Master And Servant was not played during this tour.