Erasure rethinks some classic pop songs with Other People’s Songs. Vince Clarke’s percolating synth work is a good match for these tunes, and they demonstrate how synth-pop is at its heart, about great pop songs.
Clarke has been at the forefront of synth-pop for twenty years. His work with Depeche Mode and Yaz helped create the genre, and his later work with Andy Bell in Erasure has helped move synth music to the mainstream.
With Other People’s Songs, Erasure zigs a little, doing covers of tracks made famous by Peter Gabriel, Buddy Holly, Elvis, The Righteous Brothers, and others. The songs all translate easily into the Vince Clarke style, with his trademark interlocking sequences providing a percolating background for Bell’s passionate singing.
The results, though, are a mixed bag. Several songs are very interesting. Buddy Holiday’s Everyday seems new again when reinvented as a synth-pop tune, and sounds like an Erasure tune. Solsbury Hill, a hit for Peter Gabriel, seems an odd choice at first. Erasure manages to rethink the song, making it sound faithful to the original, but also letting you hear the song with fresh ears. Can’t Help Falling in Love makes you forget about Elvis’ somber take on the tune, and makes predestined love sound catchy.
With these and other tracks, Erasure brings an fun pop energy to tunes that previously sounded a little worn out from repetition. Unfortunately, some of the covers are less inspired. Their take on the Buggle’s Video Killed the Radio Star is close enough to the original to invite comparison, and the Erasure version seems lackluster and insipid.
Overall, the collection is like musical champaigne, bubbly fun. It’s not a great CD, but a treat for fans of synth-pop.
- Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel
- Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime – The Korgis
- Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
- Everyday – Buddy Holly
- When Will I See You Again – The Three Degrees
- Walking in the Rain – The Ronettes
- True Love Always – Buddy Holly
- Ebb Tide – The Righteous Brothers
- Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
- You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – The Righteous Brothers
- Goodnight – Cliff Eberhardt
- Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles