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Tunes

100 best covers: #55 Smashing Pumpkins “Never let me down again”

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I’d consider myself a pretty big fan of Depeche Mode, especially of their period spanning the late 1980s to the late 1990s. In fact, last year on these very pages, I did a series of three posts on the iconic synth pop band, each one focusing on my top five tunes of their three very distinct eras: the prolific 1980s, the popular 1990s, and everything that followed, in a more experimental but still very relevant vein.

Near the end of that middle and very popular period in the 90s, a tribute album was put together by the artists and management team behind the industrial rock group, God Lives Underwater. Titled “For the masses”, it featured reimaginings by said band, but also by The Cure, Veruca Salt, Meat Beat Manifesto, and yes, Smashing Pumpkins. I bought the compilation on compact disc, of course, but was mostly disappointed with it and only ever listened to it a few times. And often those few times that it found itself in my player were because I had a hankering to listen to one of the disc’s meagre bright spots, that is, the track that we are focusing on today.

Smashing Pumpkins originally included their cover of “Never let me down again” as a B-side to the single, “Rocket”, released in 1994, just as they were breaking into the mainstream. The cover’s later inclusion on this compilation was the impetus for my buying the CD, after hearing it quite a bit on alternative radio. It is one of the few examples here that the covering artist really remakes the subject matter into their own thing. Where the original was robotic, dark, cold, and practically unemotional, Billy Corgan and gang inject a bit of warmth and yes, some increased sensuality to the proceedings. They take the convertible out for a ride in sunshine, still wearing sunglasses and cool, of course, the guitars are jangling and the drumming peppy, and Corgan is all snarls and whispery and just this side of screaming it out.

Yeah, it’s a great cover. Can I really say it’s better than Mode’s original synth pop evocation of drug euphoria? Nope.Do I think it’s still worth playing over and over? Oh yes.

Cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Depeche Mode “Violator”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Depeche Mode
Album Title: Violator
Year released: 1990
Year reissued: 2014
Details: 180 gram, gatefold

The skinny: A couple of weekends ago, I started spinning some Depeche Mode and sharing snaps of the few albums I own of theirs in my vinyl collection (yeah, I need few more), all in a bid to stir up the creative juices and finish my Top Five Tunes post that featured their best tunes of the 90s. Well, it worked. I posted that on Friday and if you’ve read it, you’d know that 60% of the songs on that list come from this very album (and the song below wasn’t even one of them). To say that “Violator” is my favourite Depeche Mode album is an understatement. Isn’t it everyone’s? Nine tracks and each one is incredible. Not a skippable track in the bunch. One of many reasons why it was a must for my vinyl collection when I first started collecting again. And this 180 gram reissue sounds perfect. That’s all there is to it. It’s perfection.

Standout track: World in my eyes”

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Depeche Mode “101”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Depeche Mode
Album Title: 101
Year released: 1988
Year reissued: 2016
Details: 2 x 180 gram, gatefold, 16-page booklet

The skinny: “Good evening, Pasadena!!!!” I don’t have a lot of live albums in my collection and typically, I’m not a big fan. However, in a case like this, I get away with it because I’ve got a lot of history here. “101”, so named because the recordings are culled from Depeche Mode’s 101st show on their “Music for the masses tour”, was the closest thing the band had to a “best of” compilation around the time that I was just getting into them. I recorded a copy off my friend John’s compact disc and I listened to it pretty non stop for months. I know every nuance, every bit of banter with the audience, and how the live versions differ from the studio versions of these songs. In some cases, I even prefer these live recordings. So yeah, it was an important one to add to my collection and I was especially happy when I saw the 16 page booklet, designed by regular collaborator Anton Corbijn that was included with this reissue.

Standout track: “Everything counts (Live)”