The Best of Blancmange

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Given a choice between 1996's The Best of Blancmange and 1990's Second Helpings: The Best of Blancmange, it's more or less advisable to simply toss a coin. All 12 songs (including all of Blancmange's singles) from Second Helpings are here, along with five other tracks. The extra tracks are mostly B-sides and rarities along the lines of 1984's "Vishnu," an attractive but not essential dance tune with Indian accents similar to the Middle Eastern vibe of 1982's excellent "Living on the Ceiling." So more committed fans might want this compilation, while casual fans who just want to replace their beat-up singles of "Blind Vision" and "That's Love, That It Is" might be happier with the shorter collection. Either one is an excellent précis of this largely underrated second-string U.K. synth pop duo. Meatier than Erasure but less pretentious than Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, singer Neil Arthur and keyboardist Stephen Luscombe created a brainy version of synthesizer dance-pop that at its best (the three above-named singles and the gloomily atmospheric "God's Kitchen") is among the most attractive offerings in the genre, and The Best of Blancmange is a quick and easy way to get acquainted.

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