The Two Ring Circus

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Originally released on double vinyl some months after The Circus, thus its title, The Two Ring Circus is a time-killer release that actually stands very well on its own. Collecting remixes as well as re-recordings and live tracks, it at once makes for a good alternate take on the previous album as well as showing off further strengths of the duo. The seven remixes kick off the set, two by Erasure with assistance from either Flood or Eric Radcliffe, one by Flood with Mute Records boss Daniel Miller, and the rest by other outside DJs and producers. Little Louie Vega gets the honors for the best overall mix, though -- his revamping of "Hideaway" turns the gentler surge of the coming-out-and-leaving-home tune into an orchestral blast-infused full-on dance anthem. The three re-recordings, of The Circus' "If I Could" and "Spiralling" and Wonderland's "My Heart...So Blue," are each marvelous, substituting the synths and beats of the original for orchestral arrangements by Andrew Poppy. All three were strong ballads to begin with; here, Bell plays off the quietly dramatic takes with skill and style, arguably making each of them better than the originals. The concluding six songs are from a German show on the Circus tour -- it doesn't say so anywhere on the disc, but Bell's between-song yelps of "Danke!" gives that much away. All the takes are lively and the audience reactions near hysterical. It concludes with a fine run-through of Abba's "Gimme Gimme Gimme," originally done as an early B-side.

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