It’s not clear exactly what the point of this compilation is, other than a holding operation between labels / albums. Dedicated fans will already have most, if not all, of these tracks in one form or another and 11 of them appeared on the 1992 Pop – The First 20 Hits collection.
What’s more there is no room for such majestic early electro-pop hits as Who Needs Love Like That, The Circus and Drama! Instead you get the distinctly uninspired Freedom and the duo’s recent rather bewildering cover of the Peter Gabriel hit Solsbury Hill.
At their peak, of course, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell were capable of producing concise, memorable pop songs – the first two-thirds of this disc are proof are that. What’s more, with the deliriously camp covers of Take A Chance On Me and Voulez-Vous (originally slated for inclusion on this album but apparently dropped at the last minute) they almost single-handedly kick-started the Abba revival, although, in retrospect, that’s perhaps something of a mixed blessing.
With more than 14 million albums sold worldwide, Erasure were at the peak in the otherwise musically barren late 1980s but it’s fair to say that Vince and Andy have produced little in the past 10 years to suggest they’re doing anything other than resting on past glories.
Of the more recent material, new single and long-time live favourite, Oh L’Amour, is a wonderful slice of retro electro-pop. However, Always, Stay With Me and In My Arms sounded distinctly anachronistic when they were first released in the mid-1990s and still have little to recommend them, at least when compared with the pure kitsch of Blue Savannah and such pop gems as Sometimes, Victim Of Love and Ship Of Fools.
The fanbase will no doubt snap up early copies of this album, which come with a bonus megamix disc, but taken as a whole this is something of a missed opportunity. A thorough retrospective of the duo’s 17-year career – which this album certainly isn’t – may only appeal to nostalgia buffs and devotees, but it is still long overdue.