While cover records may be old hat (and, recently, big news) for Cat Power, interpretations of her songs from other musicians are rarer to come by. Yet Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan has nobly entered the fray this month, offering up an epic version of Cat Power’s “Metal Heart.” The cover is officially credited to Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, and the group’s near-holy name rings true: their version is fiery, gospel-tinged and expansive.
Riding on the coattails of “Personal Jesus,” the more recognizably Depeche Mode single “Enjoy the Silence” became their biggest overall hit. So it’s no surprise it has been covered hundreds of times. Originally a ballad, the finished version combines the classic Depeche Mode tropes – Gahan’s sonorous voice and plenty of electronic instruments – with the guitar hooks so common on parts of Violator.
Fousheé is a singer from New Jersey who competed on season 15 of The Voice and who got her big break last year when Sleepy Hallow sampled her voice in a song that blew up on TikTok. Her cover of “Enjoy the Silence” was commissioned for a new H&M campaign.
‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
Way back in January, we polled our Patreon supporters to see which 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee they wanted to see get the “Best Covers Ever” treatment. Depeche Mode won, so we started planning our schedule to get it ready in advance of the big induction ceremony on March 24.
Tomorrow, many months later, the Rock Hall is finally hosting some sort of ceremony – remotely, of course – and we’ve been honoring each artist all week with covers features: Whitney Houston, Notorious B.I.G., The Doobie Brothers, T. Rex, and Nine Inch Nails. Now, many months after we expected to post it, the grand finale: The 25 Best Depeche Mode Covers Ever.
Over our time tracking cover songs (13 years this month!), we’ve written about hundreds of new tribute albums, across reviews, news stories, and, when they’re good enough, our best-of-the-year lists. We also have looked back on plenty of great tribute albums from the past in our Cover Classics series. But we’ve never pulled it all together – until now.
Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
Regular readers might not all be aware of erstwhile UK teatime favorites, the TV duo of Sooty and Sweep. Whilst the show limps on in several formats, time has not always been kind to Sweep, a roan cocker spaniel who first made his performing debut, astonishingly, as far back as 1957, and he has had to learn to adjust to the changing demands of a fickle audience. In the last year or so he has discovered a powerful and emotive singing voice: previously able only to vocalize in a fashion understandable to his close colleagues and family, he has learnt how to sing. Whilst this is not fully understood, this is perhaps akin to a stroke victim retaining or recouping the power of song ahead of the return of speech. and, although he can now speak, this famously first taking place on air in 2014, song still remains easier.
Sweep, always a keen musician anyway, through his longstanding membership of the Sooty Braden Showband between the late ’60s and early ’70s, has produced, to date, 186 videos, encompassing all genres and styles. These are usually solo acapella performances, he proving himself adept at maintaining rhythm with clapped hands and vocal beatbox effects, much in the style of Bobby McFerrin, with polyphony and multiphony.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
You Want it Darker, the title of Leonard Cohen’s farewell album of 2016, might also have made an appropriate moniker for Depeche Mode’s 1990 release, Violator. The British synthpop group had grown steadily in popularity since signing to the independent Mute label in 1980, even to the point of selling out the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena (over 90,000 seats) in 1988. Yet it was when they took a more direct approach to the subjects of guilt, sin, sexual obsession, and inner torment on their seventh LP that they truly achieved a mass audience. This involved selling three million copies in the US and 15 million worldwide, in the glow of the indomitable hit singles “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence.”
Today marks 30 years since the release of Depeche Mode’s bleak, unit-shifting masterpiece, one of the most influential records of the ’90s, and one that made #342 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of all Time in 2012. The breadth of artists who’ve covered its songs is testimony to the album’s impact. These artists span an unimaginable variety of genres on an international scale, and they provide ample justification for the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.