Release Date: 10.28.03
Record label: Mute
Hiding Under the Covers
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent
Erasure, that camp synth duo that had a good run of pop hits in the 80s and 90s, are no strangers to cover versions. The cheesy Abba-Esque EP in 1992 gave them their only view from the top of the charts not only in the U.K. but also the US.
It might not surprise you to learn, then, that Vince Clarke and Andy Bell have chosen a whole host of other people’s songs to cover for their new album. Hopefully for them it will prove to be a comeback album after a couple of duds and an absence from the top ten that has lasted nearly nine years. More likely, it will be their last and most woeful outing.
The title clearly explains what fans can expect, for this new album which is out on January 27 (UK), is simply called Other People’s Songs. The first single is out on January 6 and takes the form of an electronic re-working of Peter Gabriel’s "Solsbury Hill," complete with all the usual beeps and whizzes you have come to expect from an Erasure song.
"Solsbury Hill," the Erasure version at least, is a tired and disappointing introduction to an album that proves itself to be half-hearted and aged with every humble track. The songs that Clarke and Bell have chosen as a base for their covers album should really have been given much better attention. There was indeed potential to turn "Can’t Help Falling In Love" and "You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling" into the over-produced icons of campness that made Abba-Esque such an immaculate and well-loved success. But they are played far too straight, Bell tries to match his predecessors in vocal ability and inevitably fails dramatically.
Another cover with so much potential was "When Will I See You Again," and it is a tragedy that Erasure’s version never really gets of the ground to deliver all that it should. In fact, the only one of the other people’s songs that really hits home is "Video Killed The Radio Star," and perhaps this is because Bell’s vocals have been replaced by a computer-sounding stand-in.
An Erasure album used to mean something, it used to storm the charts and produce a string of strong singles – the best being released on the Pop! collection in the mid 1990s. With Other People’s Songs, Erasure have proved that their time is certainly over. This collection of ill thought through and poorly performed covers is a death bell tolling on one of the country’s most successful pop acts and it’s an embarrassment to listen to. 30-Jan-2002 10:20 AM