Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth

From DM Live - the Depeche Mode live encyclopedia for the masses
Jump to navigationJump to search

"Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth" was written by the rock group Sparks and was covered by Martin Gore. It was released on 12 June 1989 as part of his first solo album, the Counterfeit e.p.

Flexidisc version/demo

A flexidisc attributed to Depeche Mode containing 'Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth' was sent to members of the official fan club around Christmas 1987, aptly named "Happy Christmas 87 From Depeche Mode".[1] This is Martin's original demo version of the song. It differs somewhat from the version later released on Counterfeit e.p., but it sounds very similar to how the track was performed live during the final two legs of the 1987-1988 Music For The Masses Tour. The backing sequence of this track, used during the tour, is available to listen to at 1987-1988 Music For The Masses tour backing tapes.

Alan Wilder was asked about this song and posted on Shunt Q&A:[2]

In 1987 Depeche recorded the Sparks' track, 'Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth' for a special Christmas fan club flexi disc. This track has a rather minimalistic arrangement and anyone who listens to it may get the impression that the recording of this song was a 'one afternoon affair'. Could you please give me some details about it?

I'm very vague about this one - can't recall anything about the recording. I suspect you to be right - we must have recorded it in the afternoon while I was thinking about the match in the evening :-)

On 15 October 2019, Daniel "BRAT" Barassi, Depeche Mode's archivist, confirmed on the Home forum that this version is Martin's original demo version. He also relays that the original master tape is unfortunately unaccounted for at this time.[3]

Since this is Martin's original demo version, Alan likely had little to no involvement with producing this song for release on the flexi-disc, so that may explain why he doesn't remember anything about this song in the Q&A above. He was most likely later involved with producing the sequence of the song used during the Music For The Masses tour, however.

Live performance sequence

'Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth' is a track that was present on one of Alan Wilder's Emax II ZIP discs. The quality is somewhat degraded due to lossy audio compression used for this track. The clicking artifacts in the middle of the song result from an incorrectly programmed loop point. The guitar, choir "ahh", and choral pad voices are automated in this sequence, leaving the synth bass and pad voices for Wilder to improvise live (which matches the live recordings from the Music For The Masses tour, as these performed parts differ slightly from recording to recording).

Dates with available recordings of Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth

Dates where Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth was played

1987-1988 Music For The Masses Tour

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


  1. Discogs: Depeche Mode – Happy Christmas 87 From Depeche Mode
  2. Source: Shunt Q&A, circa February 27, 2003, top question
  3. Source: A new boxset: Depeche Mode - Mode; "Addressing an earlier question I saw, Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth (BONG flexi version) is actually the demo. I reached out to Rico Conning [editor's note: co-producer of Counterfeit e.p.] and Martin to confirm. Sadly, no one seems to have the tape handy."