Wednesday, 16 March 2016


Albums eh? These days, vinyl is on the way back, cd's are on the way out and downloads are perplexingly popular. When Black Celebration came out, there were two main formats and one brand new kid on the block. Vinyl and cassette were kings and said new boy, compact disc, had just arrived on the scene, all shiny, digital and prohibitively expensive. Three formats then - simple eh? Well, you'd think so, but it's not that simple as we're about to find out, with the help of is the place to go if you have any Depeche Mode related questions. Their discography and forum deals with every single Depeche Mode release from every country possible and, if you ever want to know something particular about a DM release, that's your place to go. It's on that you will discover all the various versions there are of Black Celebration and I'm going to let you know exactly what they are. This may all seem a bit odd to the casual fan, but in attempting to give you all a different take on Black Celebration, I need to go deep into collector mode. Don't worry, I'll be back to my usual self tomorrow. For the record though, and in the interests of both my own sanity and making sure you all come back tomorrow, this is restricted to the U.K. release only. Or in the main anyway - I'll throw in some interesting things to reward you for getting through the main section!

Firstly, let's look at the vinyl version of the album. Pick up your copy and have a look at it. What version do you have? 

"Erm...I have the vinyl version David. The LP. What in God's name do you mean?"

Good question. There are, as far as I can count, 5 different variations of that vinyl version. There are three variations alone of the embossed cover vinyl version for example - one printed by Lyntone Recordings Ltd, another printed by MPO and a final one printed by Musitech. All three come with a printed inner lyric sleeve. Mine, for example, is the MPO version in case you care. As well as those versions, you can also find yourself plain mat sleeve versions. There are two of them - one with a printed inner sleeve with die cut opening and one with a plain mat sleeve and glossy photo but no printed lyric sleeve.

Clear? No, not at all I imagine. If you are so minded, you can tell which version you have by looking at the run out groove on the vinyl. There you will see either:

Matrix / Runout (A): LYN- 17252 -6C ZZ. * 11 STUMM-26-A A CLASSIC CASE OF OVER FOCUSING
Matrix / Runout (B): LYN-17253-2C .Z. STUMM-26-B SO MUCH FOR THE MINIMAL ALBUM

Matrix / Runout (Side A, Etched): MPO STUMM 26 A¹ A CLASSIC CASE OF OVER FOCUSING
Matrix / Runout (Side B, Etched): MPO STUMM 26 B² SO MUCH FOR THE MINIMAL ALBUM

Matrix / Runout (Side B ): STUMM 26 B 2 SO MUCH FOR THE MINIMAL ALBUM M̶̷P̶̷O̶̷

Barcode (sticker on back with barcode): 5016025310265


Matrix / Runout (Side A Runout Groove Hand-Etched): MPO STUMM 26 A2 A CLASSIC CASE OF OVER-FOCUSING
Matrix / Runout (Side B Runout Groove Hand-Etched): MPO STUMM 26 B3 SO MUCH FOR THE MINIMAL ALBUM

in the order mentioned above. Make it a fun game for all the family.  I had intended to put a picture of my one up as an example, but, typically enough, I can't bloody well find it.  I do have, for reasons that are not immediately clear, the Scandinavian version of the album so here's a rather random snap of that:

A quick visit to will show you the others and there, you will also see the different variations of the labels on the various album versions. Again, compare them to yours - hours of joy guaranteed. I've not put all the pictures up as it would take me all night.

Anyone still with me? Ok - let's look at the cassette version. What version of that do you have?

"Seriously? Is this some hipster crap where you're insisting cassettes are the only way to listen to music? Does anyone even have a cassette player anymore?"

No, no and yes are the answers, dear reader. In 1986, cassettes were all the rage and, unless you had some sort of portable record player, the only way to listen to music on the go. Incredible times. Black Celebration, as we have learned, appeared on cassette and it did so in three different variations. First up, we have the original version on a black tape. I've got this one for example:

As well as that though, you also have a transparent version with what is known in these sorts of circles as Mute Logo 1:

Finally, we find the transparent tape version with Mute Logo 3:

It's Mute Logo 2 I feel sorry for - he had no say in any of this. It should also be said that a run of double album cassettes of Music For The Masses and Black Celebration came out in 1987. Mine looks like this:

Obviously, all the various versions of Black Celebration contain exactly the same amount of music. 

Finally, we arrive at the cd version. Thrillingly, the Black Celebration cd contained bonus tracks, so you knew you were living in the so-called space age when you picked that up. There are five different variations of the cd available, and within those five variations, there are other variations. Wheels within wheels. First up, there's the original cd with the matrix (the writing on the inner ring of the cd) STUMM CD 26 MPO 01. Having that version alone would be too straightforward though, as there are three variations of that. They are:

"Really? You are actually going to do this? Do you have NOTHING better to do?

Quiet. To tell which of these you have, take a peek at the cd mould ring and look for text which is either:

1. Clear i.e. no text
3. Says 3 3 3 3

and you'll see which one you have. 

The second possible variation is the later UK issue which has the matrix STUMM CD 26 MPO 01 @@ which is only two @ signs different to the first one really. Next up you have what is known as the DACD Austria matrix version and within that there are two possibilities - either one with the matrix DACD AUSTRIA or one with the matrix MASTERED BY DACD AUSTRIA. Mine is the first of those two variations:

The fourth variation of all of this nonsense is commonly known (in the sense that only a few people in the world either know or care about this) as the NIMBUS matrix and, yes, it has three different possible versions, namele:

Variation 1: C1217 CDSTUMM 26 : 1:0 -MASTERED BY NIMBUS- 

Variation 2: C1217 CDSTUMM 26 ::: 1:1 •MASTERED BY NIMBUS• 

Variation 3: C1217 CDSTUMM 26 ∶⋮∶ 1:1 [Nimbus logo]



Finally, there is the cd with the matrix C1217 CDSTUMM 26 08 1:1 Technicolor and, delightfully, there is only one version of that.

Obviously, there are hundreds of other Black Celebration versions available including the U.K. vinyl and cd re-issues and there are many from many different countries, all of which can be examined on There are a few cool releases I'd like to show you though.

Firstly, we have the American "Longbox" cd version, so called because the box it comes in is long. You can see what they did there. The back of it looks like this:

The Longbox editions of Depeche albums seem to be fairly rare, so if you have one well done. In Brazil, Black Celebration was released on the gloriously named Roadrunner Records. I presume they were constantly being chased by Wile E. Coyote Recordings. They released the album on the three standard formats, and the cassette looks like this:

As we've seen before, West German label Intercord released a grey vinyl version of the album:

Yugoslavian label RTL released their vinyl version with jazzy labels:

The Turkish cassette version released by Toco Int. looks..erm...a tad homemade:

The Polish label Tonpress went for a stark, but really quite nice look for the vinyl labels:

Finally, we'll end with the Japanese vinyl. The Japanese label Warner-Pioneer stuck with the theme for the label colour:

So there you have a trip round the globe looking at a selection of Black Celebration formats. Ultimately, it's only ever going to be about the music, but hopefully you've picked up something from this piece.

As long as it's not your third variation vinyl for the purpose of smashing it in bored frustration that is....


  1. Actually, BC was released in Brazil a number of times by different companies.
    Fermata was the first and pressed all albums until SGR in 1985 (they had the funny habit of translating song titles on the labels), but they dropped/were dropped by Mute and didn't release any DM related stuff after SGR.
    Then, in 1987 BC was finally released by Warner (or WEA, if you just read the logo). Some people mistake this as BMG because at the bottom end it says it was pressed at BMG plants. But it was a release of the Brazilian branch of WEA nonetheless. I don't know of any CD releases at this time (CDs didn't take off in Brazil until the early 90s). This is the cassette you showed here on this post.
    In 1997, a small local label focused on euro-trash dance called Paradoxx Music got a deal with Mute and re-released all the catalog in CD (including other Mute artists like Erasure) and even made some decent promotion for Ultra.
    In 2000, RoadRunner/Sum Records (a branch of an Argentinian label that already dealt DM there), took over and once again re-released all the catalog until then (with terrible typos on the sleeves and huge numbers next to each song on the sleeves making them look awful). They also released for the first time almost all CD singles from the Box Sets (or the corresponding CDBONG, not the limited ones).
    Just one year later, EMI took over nearly worldwide (maybe except USA) and they released Exciter and re-released the 2 Singles compilations.
    EMI carried on releasing each album/compilation until The Remixes 81-11
    Now, finally with the recent Sony/BMG take over, it was all re-released again like in the rest of the world using the remasters. Again, CDs only. Hope to have helped.