Tribute Disc Pays Respects to Depeche Mode

Smashing Pumpkins, Robert Smith and the Deftones are among those honoring the gloomy band on For the Masses.

You know you've nailed it when a member of the band whose song you've covered says

he likes your version better than his own.

"Jesus, that's pretty rad. I've got a big smile on my face," was Failure leader Ken

Andrews' reaction to word that Depeche Mode keyboardist Andy Fletcher had high

praise for Failure's half-electronic/half-rocked-up radio-hit version of DM's "Enjoy the


The song, the first single from the tribute and one of the last tracks recorded by Failure

before their quiet disbanding last year, is among many surprising and unusual takes on

the music of the gloomy British synth-pop band found on the recently released 16-track

For the Masses tribute album.

Chicago-based rockers the Smashing Pumpkins check in with a previously released

mellow take on


.ram">"Never Let Me Down Again" (RealAudio excerpt of cover version), while

German pyrotechnic act Rammstein deconstruct "Stripped" with a plodding industrial

beat and fellow moody Brit Robert Smith of the Cure turns

HREF=",_The/World_In_My_Eyes.ram">"World in My

Eyes" (RealAudio excerpt of cover version) into a churning dance-floor groove.

Add that to tracks by such high-profile acts as God Lives Underwater, Chicago's Veruca

Salt (who contributed one of their last recordings), Meat Beat Manifesto, Monster Magnet

and the Deftones, and you begin to wonder, what am I missing here? Depeche Mode?

"[Depeche Mode songwriter] Martin [Gore] has that gift, that one-in-a-billion thing that can

make for the perfect pop song," said Gary Richards, co-founder of 1500 Records, which

released the album. "I see him in the same light as John Lennon. He has that magic,

where his songs are so simple and so perfect."

Richards said the idea for the album honoring the nearly 20-year-old dance-pop band

began four years ago when his roommate, God Lives Underwater's Jeff Turzo -- whose

band has covered "Stripped" in their live show for years -- suggested they try to get their

friends to record DM covers for a tribute. Soon, Richards said, the pair were inundated

with tapes, resulting in an album's worth of covers, plus 20 extra songs that they briefly

considered putting onto a second disc.

"These guys [DM] have written so many good songs ... we're just in it as fans," Richards

said. Ironically, despite what Richards said was unbridled enthusiasm from everyone to

whom he mentioned the project, at first it was difficult to get anyone to actually sign on

the line in the days before 27-year-old partner Philip Blaine launched their two-year-old

label. "At first, nobody would take our calls," Richards said, "but then once the Cure

decided to do it, everyone came on board."

Once word of the project started leaking out, other artists, from Dishwalla to hard rockers

the Deftones, started coming out of the woodwork and owning up to their love for DM,

according to Turzo. "When [bandmate] Dave [Reilly] and I got together when we were,

like, 16, we had one band in common and it was Depeche Mode," Turzo, 27, said of his

early inspiration. "They never quite got the respect they deserved, but we knew how cool

they were and how great their songs were, and we met a lot of bands along the way that

were into them, even if they were ashamed to admit they had DM albums at home."

The effort has not gone unnoticed among the members of DM, who have kept up with the

progress of the album from afar. "Philip has given us versions of the songs all along," DM

keyboardist Andy Fletcher said. "Some of the versions on it are very rocky and it's nice to

hear them played that way, because I think they still stand up as good songs." Fletcher

said the album was reaffirming in some ways for himself and bandmates Gore and

singer David Gahan, because instead of serving as a post-mortem, he felt the tribute

came at a time when the band is still doing its best work.

"I'm just tripping out that it's getting played on the radio," said Failure's Andrews, still

enthused about his defunct band's cover being chosen as the first single from the album.

"Because there are a lot of bigger bands on the album, most of whom haven't been

broken up for a year."