Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
British duo Erasure has been making music for 18 years. In the years since bandmates Andy Bell and Vince Clarke released their first album, "Wonderland" -- which spawned global hits like "Who Needs Love (Like That)" and "Oh L'amour" -- much has changed in the music industry and the music marketplace in the U.S.
Back then, Clear Channel Communications (CCC) didn't own 1,200 radio stations, MTV played music videos day and night, and a dance-pop act like Erasure could receive ample airplay. Today, conglomerates like CCC control what the mainstream hears. In such a scenario, what's a venerable act like Erasure to do when armed with a new album? That is the question being bandied about by the duo and its label, Mute, which for the first time is releasing an Erasure set worldwide.
"The U.S. marketplace is not the same market it once was," Mute director of marketing Jeanne Klafin says. "Even though Erasure has history, today's younger audience may not 'get' the duo."
Given the new album's theme, Klafin's thinking may be on target. Appropriately titled "Other People's Songs" (due Jan. 28, one day earlier internationally), the set finds Bell and Clarke revisiting cherished songs from different eras and different genres -- all done in Erasure's signature electronic fashion.
A collaborative effort between Erasure and producer/mixer Gareth Jones, "Other People's Songs" -- the act's 10th studio album -- finds the duo tackling songs made famous by a diverse group, including Peter Gabriel ("Solsbury Hill"), Buddy Holly ("Everyday"), Elvis Presley ("Can't Help Falling in Love"), and the Righteous Brothers ("You've Lost That Loving Feeling"). The album closes, ironically, with the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star," with Bell's melancholic vocals replaced by the robotic stylings of Mick Martin.
"Other People's Songs" was preceded by the Jan. 14 release of "Solsbury Hill." The CD maxi-single includes two new cuts ("Tell It to Me," "Searching"), a new cover ("Ave Maria"), two remixes of "Solsbury," an alternate mix of "Radio Star," and a CD-ROM short by Clarke. On Jan. 3, the single went to hot AC, triple-A, and alternative specialty shows in the U.S. It debuted at No. 10 on the U.K. singles chart.
"Making this album was like getting the cobwebs out," Bell says. "By picking and choosing and then recording the songs for the album, we relearned the process of songwriting, something I believe we needed to do.
"Our last three albums were not necessarily commercial successes," Bell continues, referring to "Loveboat," "Cowboy," and "Erasure." "Vince and I don't take it too personally, though; we see it more as a sign of the times. But by covering other people's songs, we rediscovered a spark that may have been missing on our recent albums. The process resulted in a creative regrouping of sorts."
Erasure is confirmed to host VH1 Classic's "All Star Jams." For this show, scheduled to air Jan. 26, Bell and Clarke will select their favorite VH1 Classic videos, be interviewed about their career, and discuss the new album. In March the duo embarks on a three-week club-style U.S. tour.
Excerpted from the Jan. 25, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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