Other People's Songs

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While there's nothing wrong with doing an album of covers, putting such a project together has its risks. For Erasure, the experiment yields mixed results. More often than not, they connect with the material in unexpected ways, and certainly with greater success than one might expect from other electronic groups. This is due largely to the fact that these guys have been around long enough to develop a sensitivity to music as being more than a beat and a hook. Their sense of humor leads them to revise "Video Killed the Radio Star" in a way that's not only highly amusing -- it actually suits the message of the song. Plus, Andy Bell remains a very convincing singer, particularly on the softer material, where his choir-boy timbre glistens and shimmers. Problems occur when they can't find a convincing way to graft their highly identifiable sound onto the song. On "True Love Ways," for instance, Vince Clarke's textures are sweet to the point of gag inducement, which makes the squirmy synth lick in the bridge section seem weirdly out of place. While they deserve credit for not mimicking the feel of the records they cover, there's something very unnerving about the disco gallop they inflict on "Ebb Tide." And when they do stay faithful to the original arrangement, as on "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," all the grandiosity achieved by Phil Spector sounds as if it was being squashed down to Tinker Toy sonics. Finally, just because you're able to insert a cricket sound every time the word "sleeping" occurs on "Goodnight" doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea.

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