Thursday, April 30, 2009

Erasure 'Hits' box set review

Total Pop! Deluxe Box: The First 40 Hits

Before teaming with singer Andy Bell in Erasure, keyboardist Vince Clarke struck gold in Depeche Mode and Yazoo . Yet the influential London synth-pop duo’s 1986 debut Wonderland barely made a ripple at home.

It wasn’t long until they were off and running, eventually notching 32 consecutive U.K. top 40 singles. Stateside, Erasure’s frothy confections were a mainstay on college/alternative radio (until grunge and punk took over) and often lit up the dance charts.

Maintaining longevity in the music biz is tough - especially for groups from the Eighties (a period teeming with flash in the pans). Anyone lasting a quarter century minus breakups or member changes should be celebrated. Erasure reaches that milestone next year and Rhino has assembled a fantastic four-disc retrospective, Total Pop! Deluxe Box: The First 40 Hits.

All tracks have been remastered; the early material sparkles anew. Running chronologically, Disc 1 contains the original 1992 Pop! hits collection, plus “Who Needs Love Like That ( Hamburg mix).” Disc 2 continues to the present, featuring “Moon & The Sky” (JC’s Heaven Scent Radio Re-work) and “Always” (2009 mix).

A real treat for longtime enthusiasts is found on Disc 3 – 60 minutes of concert audio from 1987-2007 where Bell ’s soulful vocal prowess is in full display. The DVD (At the BBC 1986-2005) traces the evolution of Erasure’s visual spectacle via 27 TV promo clips (Top of the Pops, Later with Jools Holland, etc.) and seldom seen 2003 music video to “Oh L’Amour.” Flamboyant and fun, this set is highly recommended.

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