The other day, I revisited a member of Depeche Mode, who used to be a core collection band in my Record Cell, 20 years ago. I was not too moved by what I had heard. How would I fare with another ex-DM member’s work? I followed Vince Clarke to Yaz[oo] but only bought the first album. I ignored Erasure for years after hearing them from the get-go. It just seemed that Clarke had found the singer that came closest to approximating Alison Moyet, really. I demurred. < insert four year gap> An encounter with “Wild” playing in-store on its release served to really catch me off guard, and I went off on an Erasure tear that saw me buying everything by them up to the first pair of CD singles from the “I Say I Say I Say” album. Then the dreaded “dull soulless dance music” remix syndrome reared its ugly head and I went off Erasure rather than spend big money on remixes that were not giving me any pleasure. I honestly had not heard a note Erasure had recorded in 19 years. Moreover, I had read that fan scuttlebutt was none too happy with the band’s output in the years I had ignored them.
# 21 • Erasure: Cowboy US CD 
- Worlds On Fire
- Reach Out
- In My Arms
- Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me
- How Can I Say
- Save Me Darling
- Love Affair
- Magic Moments
I may have been primed to hear this album by Andy Bell’s star turn on the recent B.E.F. album. I loved his take on Kate Bush’s “Breathing” quite a lot. I popped the disc in and was taken by surprise by how much I enjoyed “Rain.” The production by Gareth Jones was clean and uncluttered, with sonic room for lots of the detail tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Clarke’s arrangements to come shining through. What I heard was very appealing, but even Gahan had caught my ear initially. It’s the measure of a professional to maintain and even enhance that appeal.
“Worlds On Fire” was based on the tiresome 90s shuffle beat, and honestly, has there ever been a song that used it that I thought was great? No. That was easy. Even so, the melody of this number was dramatically surmounting the banality of the rhythm used, and Bell’s superb vocals weren’t chopped liver either. By the time that this number was fading out, I was totally into the melodic hook and it ran circles through my head even as I was actively listening to the album.
The complexion of this album was far from the sometimes campy Erasure attack of the past. Bell’s vocals and lyrics were suffused with an appealing dignity and Clarke just ran with the arrangements and didn’t look back. The appearance of an ondioline solo in the middle eight of “Don’t Say You Love Is Killing Me” served to warm the cockles of my heart. At first I thought I was hearing a kazoo, until the distinctive tremolo of the early synthesizer was spotted, recognized and warmly embraced.
The album is consistently delightful throughout with ballads and spirited but dignified pop songs jostling for dominance with both styles coming to a draw. And that makes the album work like a fiend for me. The US edition that I have is appended with a pair of cover tunes; Erasure’s take on Blondie’s “Rapture” and that anthem of fresh-faced teenagers everywhere, “Magic Moments.” I liked the cover of “Rapture;” not my favorite Blondie song in any case. I have to admit, that I was wondering, would Andy perform the rap section of the song? I was completely blown out of the water when it transpired that Vince Clarke himself deadpanned the rap portions for a golden opportunity seized and held triumphantly to the world to gape in astonishment!
The sprightly cover of the primeval Bacharach and David pop hit “Magic Moments” was treated with dignity but the songs native campiness is perhaps inherent in Bacharach’s callow melody; one of his early works before he started pushing the melodic envelope and letting his freak flag fly with impunity. Still, it fits in with some of the attractive ballads on this record more than the left field moment that “Rapture,” for all its astonishment, fails to achieve.
What I’m left with is what is now my second favorite ever Erasure album following “Wild!” I still think that “You Surround Me” can’t be topped, but this is a really attractive batch of songs performed exceedingly well. So well, it has me wondering what the other Erasure albums I have not heard sound like. There are still seven canonical albums to explore.
CONCLUSION: enjoy… a lot