After leaving Depeche Mode and creating two albums with Yaz, Vince Clarke created Erasure with fab-ulous singer Andy Bell, and they became pretty much the most consistently great pop bands since ABBA, continuing to make super-duper albums for twenty years and counting.

see Yaz, Andy Bell, Depeche Mode, The Assembly, Vince Clarke

Information: Erasure
Suggested first purchase/best of: Pop!: The First Twenty Hits
Suggested first album: Nightbird

Wonderland (1986) -- Although not initially as interesting as the stuff Vince Clarke was doing with his previous band Yaz, this is a nice little start for Erasure, a band that would eventually become the definitive project for Clarke.  This album features the hits "Who Needs Love Like That," "Oh L'Amour," and my favorite, "Heavenly Action."  Many of the other songs are almost equally as good ("Reunion," "Cry So Easy," "Love Is a Loser," "My Heart... So Blue"), leaving just a few minutes of somewhat average songs on this tiny album (it's a little over thirty minutes--the CD release added two remixes as bonus tracks).  A

The Circus (1987) -- About as "political" as Erasure ever got, with songs about getting along, coming out, not listening to authority, making the world better, and the plight of the working man... but also relationship songs.  Fortunately, none of these messages get in the way of the music, and in most cases it enhances it.  The hits here are "It Doesn't Have To Be," "Victim of Love," "Sometimes," and "The Circus."  "Hideaway" is another song that could have been a hit.  The CD features three bonus tracks: two remixes and a for-some-reason cover of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Greig's Peer Gynt Suite. A

The Two Ring Circus (1987) -- This is a double album (following the release of The Circus) of remixes and live songs.  Not a proper album, but interesting enough for what it is. The orchestral arrangements of three songs are the most interesting. B

The Innocents (1988) -- The album that features their biggest United States hit, "Chains of Love," a good song but not one of my personal favorites.  The opener, however, "A Little Respect" (another hit), is perhaps the quintessential Erasure song, containing almost everything that makes them great.  This album also contains the hit "Ship of Fools" as well as additional highlights "Yahoo!" and "Witch in the Ditch."  A really good album, and they only get better and more interesting from here. A

Wild! (1989) -- Most of this album is exceptional, with all the big keyboardy choruses we love from Erasure.  The second half isn't as great as the first, but even those songs are pretty good.  My favorite song on the album is "Drama!," a hopelessly addicting, driving song.  This album also features "La Gloria," their goofiest song that's a lot of fun because of it. A

Chorus (1991) -- The title song starts the record with one of the greatest verse arrangements Erasure has come up with so far; interestingly, it's the chorus of the song that's not as good (though good).  The rest of the album goes between similar dance numbers ("Love To Hate You" and "Turns the Love To Anger" are the standouts there) and pretty ballads (including "Am I Right?").  A solid album throughout. A

ABBA-esque EP (1992) -- Four well-done ABBA covers.  The fact that these are covers and that it's a short record makes it weird, but it's interesting enough for any Erasure and/or ABBA fan to own. B

Pop!: The First Twenty Hits (1992) -- Here it is: the only Erasure CD you'll need to make you a fan.  Things you know and things you don't know are here, including "Victim of Love," "Chains of Love," and "A Little Respect."  Some of the songs presented here are the single mixes, slightly different from the ones of the albums, so it's a nice CD to have even for people who have all the records.  If you don't think you like Erasure, pick this up and you'll listen to this a billion times before finally deciding you need the rest of their albums.  That's what happened to me. A

I Say I Say I Say (1994) -- After releasing a greatest hits album that solidified their place in history, Erasure keeps on truckin'.  I Say I Say I Say is as interesting as anything they've put out so far, featuring the bit hit "Always" as well as other standouts like the bouncing around the room anthem "I Love Saturday."  The album often moves in a softer direction that points where they will go in the near future. A

Erasure (1995) -- If this isn't their best album, it's one of their most interesting and different, going so far in the "soft" direction that they almost lose their trademark dance beats and pop hooks entirely, some of the album even sounding something close to new age (or ambient, since large portions of the songs' middles are instrumental breaks).  Mainly this means it's not going to jump out at you immediately like previous releases, but will require a few listens for the subtle melodies to sink in.  The standouts here are "Fingers and Thumbs" (one of their catchiest tunes once it finally catches you) and the beautiful "Rock Me Gently" (so lovely they made it last ten minutes). A

Cowboy (1997) -- After some moody departures with I Say I Say I Say and Erasure, the boys return to the more straightforward pop structures that made them famous.  These songs don't initially hit you as much as something like "Respect" did back in the day, and there's somewhat of a dismal feeling on the record (as if they realize people, sadly, don't dig keyboard music as much as they used to), but give it a few listens and the songs quickly become as ingrained in your brain as any other album.  One of the catchiest tunes, actually, is the Bacharach song "Magic Moments," which might have given them the idea a few years later that an album of cover songs would be nice. B

Loveboat (2000) -- Sort of a cross between the moodiness of I Say I Say I Say and the not-instantly-catchiness of Cowboy.  Lots of deep bass and pulsing drums on this one, and even some bizarre singing from Andy.  Although good, it feels a little slumpy.  Some of the highlights are "Freedom," "Alien," and "Love Is the Rage." B

Other People's Songs (2003) -- Erasure picked some already-good songs and Erasurefied them, and usually in even more interesting ways than they did with ABBA-esque.  If you didn't know these songs, you'd swear Erasure wrote them.  Cover albums can be bad or pointless if nothing new is done to the arrangement, but Vince added so many cool touches that you might even prefer some of these versions, and of course Andy's voice is as great as ever.  Some of the highlights are "Solsbury Hill," "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime," "Make Me Smile," and a version of "Goodnight" that's so pretty it'll make you wish Andy Bell could sing you to sleep every night.  It seems like taking some time out to do other people's songs gave Erasure a reminder of how to write really really good songs (after doing a couple of albums of only really good songs) which led them to Nightbird. A

Nightbird (2005) -- This was the year I re-discovered Erasure after simply thinking of them as a group that released two or three good singles in the 1980s.  I picked up Pop! because it was used and I knew I liked some of the songs ("Respect" had always been a favorite), and I eventually found myself putting the CD on several times a day.  I had no idea they wrote songs this well.  I then started picking up some of their regular albums (some of them are easy to find used too) and found that the albums tracks (and the albums as albums) were just as great, and I was really happy to find that the newest, Nightbird, seemed to be one of their best.  And it is.  If Erasure fans worried about them being in a little bit of a slump for the past ten years (they were only in a minor one) or that they had no relevance anymore, I'm sure this album made them happy.  I'm sure every review of this album will use the word mature, but luckily it won't be used in that way that means "good songs from a forgotten, over the hill band."  Instead it means that they're at the height of their powers, writing songs that are seriously and prettily put together without losing any of the catchiness or dance-ability of the other albums (though granted, you'll be slow-dancing to lots of them).  Many of the songs become addictive in that Erasure way, especially the single "Breathe."  Other highlights include "I'll Be There" and "Don't Say You Love Me."  I love you, Vince and Andy. A

Union Street (2006) -- Erasure unplugged, but not as goofy as that might sound.  The arrangements are really pretty, and are more than just acoustic guitar strumming.  We've got strings and steel guitars and dobros and all that pretty stuff, and it makes these once-electronic songs all the more interested and proves (if anyone needed it proved) that at the core Erasure writes pretty melodies and catchy songs that can be presented in any format.  The song selection is good here: they didn't choose their greatest hits (that wasn't the purpose), but stuck with the songs that might fit best in this soft and tender format.  The fact that the Erasure songs are just as pretty (or prettier) in their original electric format, of course, shows where the band's real strength is, but this is an interesting and worthy project. B

On the Road to Nashville (2007)

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