It seems a very long time ago when Erasure were riding high in the UK charts and playing sold out gigs on multiple nights in big venues. At the height of their popularity, they once played to 60,000 adoring fans at Milton Keynes Bowl. Despite numerous attempts at revisiting their love affair with the British public, erasure have only enjoyed moderate success in recent years.
This two disc greatest hits package (which comes as Erasure have a well deserved break before writing a a new album next summer) differs from the previous two greatest hits packages due to the inclusion of the band’s more recent material. There is also a deluxe version available which includes a host of live material and TV performances over the years. Just to confuse matters, there is also a CD of remixes available..
Disc One is the exact same tracklisting as the ‘Pop! 20 hits’ release in 2001. This is the disc that most people will be familiar with as it includes the band’s biggest hits. “Sometimes” still sounds like a glorious slab of electro-pop complete with trumpet solo from Guy Barker.
“A Little Respect” is now considered an eighties pop classic and has been covered many times in recent years. It features one of Andy Bell’s best vocal performances and a minimal electro backing from Clarke. One of the most overlooked tracks on offer here is the wonderful “Drama!”. An acid house keyboard sound is met by a ferocious vocal performance by Bell, complete with Indian style backing harmonies. Another big highlight is “Chorus” written around the time of the Gulf War. Clarke’s Adamski-ish keyboards are met with Bell singing “and they covered up the sun until the birds had flown away..and the fishes in the sea have gone to sleep”. Eco-awareness has rarely sounded so charming. The cover of Abba’s “Take A Chance On Me” really could’ve done without that silly MC kinky rap which sounds rather dated now.
Disc Two is not without highlights but there are also more misses. “Stay With Me” has a nice enough vocal but the song just sounds mundane and dare I say..boring. “Run To The Sun” and “I Love Saturday” don’t match the strength of their early material and have dated quite badly with the latter sounding ever more like cheap Euro pop.
The more recent material is better from the “Light At The End Of The World” album. “Sunday Girl” is a wonderfully OTT catchy pop song. Elsewhere and Bell sings a genuinely touching track about his mother’s alcohol addiction on the surprisingly soulful “Storm In A Teacup”. other highlights are the delicious laid back “In My Arms” and the icy electro ballad “Always” (although the 2009 mix at the end of this disc seems like overkill as it doesn’t improve in any way on the original).
Even Andy Bell concedes that Erasure have always been seen as “The poor man’s Pet Shop Boys”. They lack lyrical depth and complexity and Vince Clarke - despite some experimental moments over the years - hasn’t greatly modernized Erasure’s sound..but that’s not to say, erasure are void. They have influenced several bands from Gene to The Killers and the re-birth of electro pop over the past few years could pave the way for a decent erasure comeback next year. Until then, this is a reminder that they have written some glorious pop songs over the years.