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I've recently been trying to listen to music more often through the day when everyone else is out the house, so it has given me chance to revisit some of the music I loved in my younger days. Erasure pop used to be one of my favourite albums when I was a teenager. My dad and I ended up having a row when I left home as he was convinced this was his, but no way would I part with it, so I ended up buying him his own copy to make up for me taking it. In all honesty, I am surprised that this CD still plays, as I first got this copy when I was around 13, and I am now 33. Admittedly I don't often play my CDs these days, but I think that this is pretty good going.
My interest in Erasure came from a family holiday we took in the summer of 1992 when I was aged 13,
just getting more into music, and Erasure were going through their 'Abba-esque' period, and the Abba covers that they did were in the top ten of the charts and playing quite a lot. With my parents loving Abba, me and my Dad loved this phase, and I was not surprised to get a copy of Pop for the Christmas of that year.
Erasure are a pop duo consisting of Andy Bell as main vocalist and songwriter, and Vince Clarke on keyboard. They have been around since 1985, and their music has a very distinctive sound as it has a very electric feel to it and prominent use of a synthesizer in the tracks. It is very reminiscent of another of my Dad's favourite groups, The Human Leaugue, who also used this musical technique and as my early childhood saw me subjected to my parents musical choices, I was fond of this band as well.
This particular album was released in 1992, and as the title suggests, it is the band's first 20 hits, so it is full of their best tracks. I find that although they all have a similar electronic sound, each track has also got a unique feel that I really love to listen to, and as soon as the CD is put on, I start singing along and I feel really happy. I probably sound awful trying to harmonise with the male voices but I don't really care. The lyrics mean a lot to me, and I find my mood is really uplifted.
Art wise, this CD is not that particularly iconic or striking. The front cover features the word erasure printed many times in the background, with pop in and explosive bubble. Its pretty simple and says what it is. The back cover has two small birds sat on a branch set against a blue sky background. It doesn't strike me as being that distinctive - it could be a CD of birdsong looking at the back cover, but don't let if fool you. This is a proper pop album.
The CD starts strongly with their debut song from 1985, 'Who Needs Love (Like That) which is a song describing how devastating a love affair can be.I think that it has a strong feel of the 1980s about it. It is quite upbeat considering the sombre content of the lyrics, like 'love can turn you upside down, and leave you cold. It's plain to see your losing all control.'
The band follow their hits chronologically on the CD. 'Heavenly Action' is also from 1985. It is a song about falling in love, and although it is littered with cliches about firing arrows into your heart, and Angels from heaven, I find it also has a certain amount of catchiness to it and it is more uplifting than track one. I can't believe this only made 100 in the pop charts when it was first released.
'Oh L'amour' is track 3 and their 3rd single from 1986.. This starts of a bit choral at first, but then takes on a strong beat more reminiscent of a dance track. The synthesizer is very evident in the chorus section where there are no vocals. The song describes someone who is in love, but their love is unrequited leaving them feeling broken hearted.
'Sometimes' is one of my favourite tracks on the album, This one was their first single that could actually be classed as a proper hit, as it reached number 2 in the UK chart in 1986. The lyrics are a bit more risque with talk about 'it's not the way you lead me by the hand into the bedroom, ... it's not my sense of emptiness you fill with your desire'. I particularly like the saxophone solo in this and the harmonising of just voices making an 'ah' sound over the vocals.
'It doesn't have to be' was a 1987 release and has a bit more of a sombre feel with the stronger keyboard sound over the top of the vocals. The song is a lament about the way a relationship has turned out. In the middle there is a portion sung in a foreign language which is apparently Kiswahili which still appears to be sung by Bell, and it gives the song a totally different almost tribal feel in that section, which is carried on till the end of the track for me.
'Victim of Love' is another really catchy 1987 song and another of my favourites. It describes not wanting to 'look like some kind of fool' when entering into a new relationship, locking away your feelings away and building a wall around yourself to keep yourself protected. Again, this is all done with such an uptempo beat that seems to not match the topic of the song, but works very well.
Track 7 is from 1987 too, and has the same name as their 2nd album, 'The Circus'. Here the song still has quite a strong beat, but there is a completely different feel to the track compared to the earlier tracks. It is sadder, more melancholy, and more in keeping with the lyrics 'pulling back the pieces of the broken dream.' 'There once was a future, for the working man, there was once a lifetime for the skillful hands.' It touches more on social issues rather than personal ones, looking at workers who can no longer rely on their skill in this new world that has more advanced technology. It is certainly a lot darker than earlier work done by the duo.
'Ship of Fools' continues on the same melancholy note, talking about someone being 'the baby of the class you know, you didn't even know one and one were two and two and two were four. ' It is a song about loss, and the cruelty of life.
'Chains of Love' is also from 1988. The opening with Bell's voice is quite dramatic 'how can I explain when there are few words I can choose, how can I explain when words get broken?' The song is about the prejudices surrounding love, particularly in homosexual relationships. The duo return to the more 'poppy' sound and I love Bell's use of falsetto to describe his relationship. I love the sentiment of 'together we'll break these chains of love, don't give up, don't give up.' It is strange to think that there was so much prejudice such a short time ago that bands felt they needed to sing about it.
The CD then takes a strong pop approach with the very catchy tenth track 'A Little Respect'. The song again features Bell singing in falsetto in the chorus in perfect harmony with Clark. They return back to what they do best, singing about love, asking for their lover to show them 'A Little Respect'.
'Stop' starts with a strong synthesised beat very different to earlier work - much pacier, and in contrast with the lyrics of wanting their lover to stop before they go to far and make a fool out of love.
Drama! is from 1989 and again takes a turn for the more sombre and theatrical. It describes someone who is over the top in how they react to everyday things that we all just get on with. I love the lyrics to this one. Your shame is never ending - just one pyschological drama after another. It is a lot of fun to sing along to.
The 13th track is also from 1989, and the duo return to sombre with this ballad called 'You surround Me'. This is a true love song, 'I love you more than the joy of living, till the lights go down in New York City.' There is something quite sensuous of this song with its deep voices caressing the ears as you listen to it. It describes someone being lost in love.
'Blue Savannah' is the first track from 1990, and although the sound is still synthpop, it also seemed to have a lot more harmony than other tracks for me, and more acoustic like performed in a big hall. It is a beutiful love song about home being where the heart is and someone missing their lover when they are apart. The chorus to this sounds a bit a cappella to me, and it is shows to me they are moving into the new decade but still trying to retain their original sound. My only criticism on this one is that one of the instrumental sections reminds me of the theme tune to the TV show Baywatch when it first aired, though that could just be a connotation I have.
'Star' is pure pop with a strong disco beat throughout. The vocals are fast paced, don't seem to make quite as much sense to me as some of their other tracks, but their is still something quite magical about it, about looking within yourself to find that shining star.
'Chorus' starts very synthetic with machinery type noises before the tune and lyrics start. It is more similar to their earliest work, and the lyrics are very poetic. 'And they covered up the Sun, till the birds have flown away, and the fishes in the sea have gone to sleep'. I really like all the random noises that appear in the chorus that remind me of a ships radar beeping away. Here we hear about memories forming a chorus.
'Love To Hate You' is round about where the band started grabbing my attention. This track is from 1991, and has a strong disco beat throughout. Bell sticks to his normal voice in this one. This was one of their most popular tracks, and the first to reach number one from this CD. As the track progresses, there is a lot of synthetic bell type noises that really complement the repetition of the lyric 'I love to hate you' well making it quite a statement.
'Am I right?' takes a return to the slower tempo, and is again a ballad. It describes someone wandering round the city looking at the sights as they contemplate a relationship trying to decide which way to take - to carry on or end. Life carries on regardless. I find this a beautiful song if you concentrate on the lyrics as there is so much detail of what the person is seeing as if they are looking round almost as if for the first time. It is full of beautiful descriptions. 'Am I right, am I wrong, or just dreaming?'
'Breath of Life' is from 1992, and we see another uptempo pop track to someone who is newly single and starting to make their own choices in life. It feels a very positive way of looking on life after a split. Again, there are really beautiful descriptions of the persons thoughts. 'I never had a point of view, cos my mind was always somewhere else' 'Take me I'm yours, now I'm coming up for air.'
'Take a Chance on Me' is probably their most famous and popular track, adding a synthesized twist to this famous Abba song. The time it was released saw a big Abba revival in pop culture with films like Muriels wedding, and the video that accompanied this track was amazing with the duo wearing sparkly jumpsuits and feather boas to recreate the look from the original version. The little rap section performed by a female vocalist in the middle gave it another little unique twist, and this made them look a lot of fun to a wider audience.
This CD finishes with a more electronic sounding version of Who Needs Love Like That, which is a lovely way to finish as it makes you feel like you have come through full circle while listening to the CD and its a strong follow on to Take a Chance on Me.
This CD is one of the most uniqe I own. The synthesized sound is done well, and although there is a strong sense of cohesion through the CD in that all tracks definitely have an 'Erasure' sound that can only be attributable to them, but at the same time every song sounds like a work of art in its own right. The lyrics they create are beautiful, and a refreshing change to some of the other artists work through the 90s in particular.
Erasure are still about and producing their own material and although the synthpop sound does date the work a little, I think the sound is pretty incredible still and I remain a loyal fan. I feel this is a pretty comprehensive collection of their work between 1985 and 1992, although I should perhaps get myself a copy of pop 40 which covers later work.
It is a CD that reminds me of being a young teenager, and I am enjoying giving it an airing. If only I could persuade my family to enjoy it as much as me.
This album was released in 1992 and, as the title suggests, collected together Erasure's first 20 singles that had been released. It contains the following tracks:
01) Who Needs Love (Like That):
Originally a chart flop (number 55) when it was first released from the "Wonderland" album.
It's a rather, catchy opening number with a strong vocal from Andy &, in my opinion, better than the 1992 remix.
02) Heavenly Action:
Another single which was released from "Wonderland" & then flopped in the UK chart, making 100. It's a slice of pop exuberance although the chorus is perhaps used a little too often.
03) Oh L'Amour:
Another track from the "Wonderland" album which failed to chart (it made 85), although a cover version by Dollar reached number 7 in the UK when it was released in 1987.
This starts of rather slowly but then moves up a gear & becomes a contender for the best song from "Wonderland".
The first single released from the album "The Circus" kicked off Erasure's run of Top 40 singles, peaking at number 2 in 1986.
It's an uptempo number which belies the lyrics:- sometimes the truth is harder than the pain inside, sometimes it's the broken heart that decides".
05) It Doesn't Have To Be:
The second single released from "The Circus" album. It peaked at number 12 in the UK charts.
From the start of this song it's obvious that Erasure's style of song has evolved a little since the previous album. Andy tells us all about how he & somebody else are divided:- "you are on one side & I am on the other" but that "It doesn't have to be like that". It held it's own on "The Circus" but on this collection it's one of the weaker tracks.
06) Victim Of Love:
The third single to be released from "The Circus" reached number 7 in the UK & therefore gave the group their 2nd Top Ten hit.
The opening lines say it all:- "I don't wanna look like some kind of fool, I don't wanna break my heart over you" as Andy vows "this time I won't end up another victim of love". A good choice of single from "The Circus", although there are stronger singles on this collection.
07) The Circus:
The fourth & last single to be released from "The Circus" reached number 6 in the UK.
Arguably the best song on that album, dealing with the decline of the traditional industries in the country:- " there was one a future for a working man, there was once a lifetime for a skillful hand ~ yesterday".
08) Ship Of Fools:
The lead single from "The Innocent" peaked at number 6 in the UK chart upon it's release.
This has a great dreamy intro & still sounds fresh over 20 years after it first came out! Andy's almost choir-boy like voice blends perfectly with the melody to create one of the Erasure's standout singles.
09) Chains Of Love:
This, the second single to be released from "The Innocents" peaked at Number 11 in the charts in this remixed version.
The track starts with Andy singing over a minimal backing track before it bursts into life as he tells us all about how restrictive love can be. This uptempo number, which features Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul fame on backing vocals, more than holds it own when you listen to it along with the rest of the group's singles.
10) A Little Respect:
The third & final single to be released in the UK from "The Innocents" gave the group their highest charting single from the album when it peaked at number 4.
Andy asks for A Little Respect over a great backing track. It stands up well against the rest of the other singles on this compilation.
From the Crackers International EP, this was released between the last track from "The Innocents" & the first tracks from "Wild", making number 2 in the UK charts.
Lively, infectious & upbeat it's one of the group's stronger singles. So good, that you don't notice for a while that it only contains one verse & one chorus that are repeated.
The lead single from the album "Wild" which made number 4 in the UK when it was released. Very camp, dramatic & over the top, but great fun & much better than the forthcoming Blue Savannah.
12) You Surround Me:
The second single from the "Wild" album reached number 15 in the UK charts on its release.
This is a slower song than the likes of Blue Savannah, Drama & Star. It's an average sort of track but doesn't make that much of an impression. I'm a bit surprised that the decision was taken to release it as a single.
13) Blue Savannah:
A savannah is, apparently, a "tropical grassland ecosystem", a transient zone between forest, desert or prairie. As the lyrics mention:- "somewhere cross the desert" it's apparently a place like this that Andy's singing about. Odd that it's blue though.
His vocals work well with the piano & synths on the backing track but this isn't quite up to the standards of Ship Of Fool or Chains Of Love for example
Blue Savannah was the third single from the "Wild" album & peaked at number 3 in the UK, making it the highest charting single from the album.
The fourth & final song released from the "Wild" album which reached number 11 in the UK chart.
Upbeat & uptempo it's lyrically more simple than Blue Savannah & Drama & therefore much easier to sing along to. A nice bit of pop froth.
The first single from the album "Chorus" made number 3 in the UK chart when it was released in 1991. This is an uptempo piece from the group which shows them an their infectious best and stands up as a strong track in this compilation.
16) Love To Hate You:
The second single released from the album "Chorus" made number 4 in the UK.
Another strong song, so it's no surprise that it was selected for single release. The backing track is up to the usual high standard & Andy's vocal holds up well.
17) Am I Right?:
This was released in December 1991 as the third single from "Chorus" & made number 15 in the UK charts. A month later a remix reached number 22.
For me, at least as far as singles were concerned, Erasure never really mastered & perfected a slower pop song. This sounds dull & lifeless & just seems to wash over you without leaving any impression at all. Quite why it was chosen as a single is a bit of a mystery.
18) Breath Of Life
The last single to be released from the "Chorus" album, reaching number 8 in the UK charts in 1992.
The backing track is probably the catchiest on that album &, as such, this is my favourite track from "Chorus".
19) Take A Chance On Me
Released in 1992 as part of the Abba-esque EP (the other tracks covered were SOS, Voulez Vous & Lay All Your Love On Me) this took the group to the coveted number one spot in the UK charts.
Erasure took a classic Abba track & managed to cover it without murdering it (not an easy task). The MC Kinky rap may not be to everyone's taste & it questionable whether it adds anything useful to the track. Personally I'd prefer it if it wasn't there.
20) Who Needs Love (Like That) Hamburg Mix:
A cover version of the first track, this made number 10 when it was released in the UK.
The backing track has been "beefed up" a lot but, in my opinion, the original sounds better.
A good compilation album which pulls together all of Erasure's single releases from 1985 - 1992. There are a couple of weaker tracks ~ You Surround Me & Am I Right ~ but overall this stands up as a very strong collection of pop hits. Recommended
I do like a bit of Erasure. Maybe it has something to do with the devilishly handsome Andy Bell and Vince Clarke standing there looking so elegent in all their shows. Pop! is a collection of their earlier works and has some of their finest moments on it. Who could forget Who Needs Love Like that or A Little Respect, two disco classics if ever there were. I remember having one of my first ever kisses to those songs with the lovely Anne Marie in the school disco.
There are also some other super tracks, like Circus and Blue Savannah which bring memories flooding back of the good old days of pop. I recall meeting Erasure many many moons ago at a concert and they were such decent people it was a pleasure to see them live. This album has dated a little but if you want a good old dose of pop then it has to be for you.
There are some tracks which admittedly are not as strong as others. I have never been that keen on Heavenly Action, which brings back some bad memories for me and it is quite a low key song which stirs ill feelings.
It has to be said that as the album flows the tracks do seem to get weaker and weaker. I fear Erasure were better off when they were just starting their career and nowadays they don't seem to come up with the same calibre of material.
The sleeve is fun to read though and contains some useful information about chart positions and has the artwork in as well for fans to mull over.
Sadly I wanted more shots of Andy Bell, but these were lacking. I would recommend this album to anyone who enjoys a good solid pop track or who wants to have a fun record in their collection
Pop! A word that often brings terror to the hearts of many considering the content of the charts these days. But fear not, this Erasure CD will remove the ghosts of Britneys past from your mind. This is a collection of all the singles Erasure released from 1985 to 1992. Erasure is a duo with members Vince Clarke (a former and founding member of Depeche Mode) and Andy Bell. This collection charts the songs which brought them great success in the 80's, they were regular visitors to the Top 10 on TOTP. Well where do I start in reviewing this, I really loved it a lot and it's been in my CD player pretty much non-stop since Christmas. This is feel-good electronica pop at it's very best. The album contains 20 singles plus 1 remix; the Hamburg Mix of 'Who Needs Love Like That'. The original of this song is the opening track. It has quite an early 80's New Romantic feel to it and the remix (last song on the tracklist) has more of a modern dance edge. The next song 'Heavenly Action' is a real candyfloss pop song, not one of my personal favorites but very listenable none the less. The third track is where Erasure really come into their own. 'Oh L'Amour' is one of their more well known singles about the pain of loosing a lover and heartbreak. It's begins with a choral and sad sounding vocal and then the synth kicks in. It's a tune that stays in your head and becomes more upbeat as it plays on. This middle section of the album is really filled with hits, with songs including "Sometimes", "Victim of Love" and "The Circus". "Sometimes" is a great song with nice acoustic guitar keeping the rhythmn with the synths. 'The Circus' is one of those pondering kind of songs, where Andy Bell sings about how the "work has moved and and the factory's gone..", a song that fits in with the problems that were abundant around the time of it's or
iginal release, like unemployment. The music itself sounds like the soundtrack to a groovy merry-go-round fairground ride. 'Victim of Love' is an upbeat little dance ditty, produced by Flood no less! Flood, yes, he of the dark and moody music of recent Depeche Mode albums, Nine Inch Nails and U2! The other producers on this album also cement the Depeche Mode links further, as Daniel Miller (also the Mute records boss) and Gareth Jones work on a significant number of songs. Personally I feel it's the mix of these producers, Andy Bell's vocals and lyrics, and the sheer melody of songs that made Erasure a success. It's just a perfect blend of elements. Now, back to the album! 'Ship of Fools' sees the pace slow down and the mood become heavy. The synth in this song is pretty bassy and heavy. Andy Bell's voice is deep in the verses and this sets an overall tone. And surely nobody can fail to sing along to the "oooh oooooh" chorus hehe! Next is 'Chains of Love' which apparently gave the band their big break in the USA. It's a thumping 80's style dance number. Yet again more gorgeous melody all the way. The only way I can describe this is that it sounds triumphant. 'A Little Repect' is another hugely melodic love song. The music in this literally soars along with Andy Bell's vocals to give a very emotional performance. 'Drama' and 'Stop' are just pure groovy and slightly more in yer face-electro! Vibrant shouts of "guilty!!" in Drama make you sit up and pay attention. My personal favorite at the moment is next, 'You Surround Me'. It opens with the most beautiful pulsating synth effects and shimmery keyboard. Andy Bell's vocals here can only be described as luscious, almost an instrument itself. It just conjures up for me, this image of a city at night on a balmy summer evening-all glittery, mellow and tres romantique hehe! This
song oozes atmosphere, as Andy Bell croons 'let the passion work it's way up through your skin'! =) 'Blue Savannah' is similar in it's velvety vocals and harmony. The next songs are more rapid paced and modern sounding. 'Star', 'Chorus', 'Breath of Life' and 'Love To Hate You' have an disco feel to them. Yeah baby! 'Am I Right?' is a kind of lone song on this album. It's a peaceful ballad and reminds me a lot of very early Depeche Mode (Broken Frame era perhaps?) in terms of it's structure, little blippy sound effects thrown in aswell as the narrative style of lyrics. Nearing the end now, we hear the song Erasure will probably be most remember for! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's Abba-Esque hehe! 'Take A Chance On Me' is reworked with some Erasure magic and a rap verse in the middle courtesy of M.C Kinky! And who can ever forget one of the greatest videos ever? Nice wigs boys! =) Unfortunately that brings us to the end of this marvellous CD. It's a wonderful reminder of one of the better bands of the 80's, it's pure fun, and with intelligent thoughtful lyrics and excellent melody, and fantastic showmanship! Come back Erasure, save us!
My first thought on listening to Pop! again reently was that I had forgotten just how fantastic Erasure are - and how catchy the music is. It's impossible to listen to this best of without singing along and having a boogie and we all enjoy that!! All the hits are here - from the very low charting 'Who Needs Love Like That' and 'Heavenly Action' to the chartbusting 'Chorus' and 'AbbaEsque'. If you loved them in the eighties or missed them the first time round you'll still be impressed with this top notch collection. My personal favourite on this album is 'You Surround Me - this song really showcases the musical talents of Vince and Andy. Of course, if it's just a track to boogie to that you're after then you can't go wrong with 'Blue Savannah' or 'Take a Chance on Me'. The song selection on Poptastic really does mean that there's something for everyone - it includes the disco numbers and the slower tunes. If you like any one Erasure song then you'll probably enjoy this album - if you don't think you like any Erasure songs then give it a go anyway - you might be pleaseantly surprised.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Who Needs Love Like That
2 Heavenly Action
3 Oh L'amour
5 It Doesn't Have To Be
6 Victim Of Love
8 Ship Of Fools
9 Chains Of Love
10 Little Respect
13 You Surround Me
14 Blue Savannah
17 Love To Hate You
18 Am I Right
19 Breath Of Life
20 Take A Chance On Me
21 Who Needs Love Like That (1)