Making Bones

After the near-death comes the slow torture of the tribute album....

After the near-death comes the slow torture of the tribute album. Always a sign your creative heyday has passed, Depeche Mode probably view it as a vindication. Because it does something the enormous tours, rubber dresses and overdoses couldn’t: it makes them, in their own eyes at least, influential.

Patently, this is not about investigating Depeche Mode’s legacy, but massaging swollen egos. There’s vague talk of tracing their pawprints on sampling and dance, but this never bothers to explain what that influence may be. So even the dancier suspects simply retread the wannabe Lizard King years. Virtually no-one chooses to reveal their own fetishes, instead using the Gore songbook like a PVC rompersuit – to be wiped clean and returned with no visible sign of meddling.

Some apply a little chutzpah to a not-so-sacred cow: The Smashing Pumpkins strip ‘Never Let Me Down’ to a haunting, melodic whisper, The Cure go sampler-distortion crazy on ‘World In My Eyes’, while lesser names hope for some controversy-free exposure. Not the triumph they might have been hoping for, but Depeche Mode can still be thankful. At least they – narrowly – avoided the celebrity fatality that usually precedes such affairs.