On its own, "Behind the Wheel" was and is a prime Depeche Mode
single. It's a massive building surge of a song that just gets more intense as it goes, translating the freeway/driving metaphor of the title into an appropriately propulsive song that is something like the arena version of Kraftwerk
's own meditations on same. Remixed slightly for its single appearance, with a quicker running time and a more prominent, cleaner main percussion, it's still fine stuff, with Martin Gore's tale of emotional control and direction still all in one piece. Shep Pettibone
's extended remix is a good effort -- clean and clinical and perfect for the dancefloor -- while the Beatmasters
ratchet up the drama of the track with phone calls samples, rougher beats, and a new, nervous string-synth line. What makes this single and the song itself even more notable in its own right is due to the B-side -- a take on the old mid-century standard "Route 66." While the choice of inspiration may seem odd, the band's arrangement and delivery of same works surprisingly well, with a rough drum-machine rhythm underpinning Gore's work on both vocals and snarling guitar riffs. It feels like something thrown together to see what would stick, but works all the better for it, a retooling of the past for the future, with a brief snippet of music from "Behind the Wheel" thrown in the middle on top of everything else. This in turn led to a separate mix of both tracks combined that won the band mainstream American radio airplay. That specific mix isn't here, but two others are -- the Beatmasters take a spin with it while throwing in tons of car racing and game show samples along the way, while the "casualty" mix kicks up some more reasonable noise and groove.