Erasure - Other People's Songs
1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 17, 2003
Review by Andy ArgyrakisThanks to their jubilant vocals, pulsating melodies, and a sugary sweet assortment of synthesized pop beats to match, Erasure has became the dancing kings (or queens depending on how you look at it) of the '80s pop world. Their chart run throughout the decade of decadence spawned over a dozen throbbing classics still capable of packing dance floors over 15 years after they were initially recorded. Although much of the public's awareness of the band faded following the demise of the new wave/Brit based dance movement (also featuring the Pet Shop Boys, Human League, and ABC) Erasure has pressed on in their efforts undaunted. Nevertheless, a mediocre 1995 self-titled disc, even worse Cowboy follow-up, and 2000's import only release Loveboat failed to attract the attention of previous endeavors, musical partners in crime Andy Bell and Vince Clarke retreated to the confines of an all covers concept for the recently released Other People's Songs.
Erasure's certainly straddled that line before, most notably with 1992's fast selling but still atrocious ABBA covers EP Abba-esque, and with a combination of the familiar and the obscure, they hope to rekindle the fanfare that project brought. However, I'm sorry to report that they don't have a prayer in doing so, not only because their choices come from all across the board, but because nearly every rendering has shamed the original. Take for instance the opening stab at Peter Gabriel's cult classic "Solsbury Hill," on which the former Genesis front man's magical moans and frolicking musicianship is replaced with downtrodden computerized dinging and a depressing vocal slant. The nightmare continues to unfold at a relatively rapid pace, continuing with slushy, lifeless takes on the most likely unfamiliar "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" (originally performed by Korgis) and "Goodnight" (written by Cliff Eberhardt).
On the more familiar front, Erasure not only butchers a pair of Righteous Brothers' standards ("Ebb Tide" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'") with thrown together arrangements and lackluster vocals, but they turn Buddy Holly's "Everyday" and "True Love Ways" into a duo of duds, guilty of shoddy electronic doctoring. The horror comes full circle as Erasure takes a downright disgraceful stab at Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love," turning in a rendition packed with the squashy muck of annoying keyboard blips that most surely has the King rolling over in his grave! And word has it that neither member wanted to tackle the vast range of the disc's finale "Video Killed the Radio Star" so they copped out and had a computer programmed to sing it instead. Not only does it come across embarrassingly artificial, but Erasure transforms an already less than desirable tune into redundant racket. I never thought I'd say this, but boy do I miss the days of "Oh L'Amour" and "Chains of Love." I'd take them, or as much as I hate to admit it, even "Take a Chance on Me" in an instant over any one of these Other People's Songs.
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