Cowboy

Onge's Review

Released sandwiched between extensive Erasure touring, this album is full of some of most perfect pop songs ever recorded. The album could hardly begin any better than with Rain, an amazing passionate dance classic which was worthy of much more than to be an obscure EP ineligible for the UK charts. A wonderfully executed vocal performance over a perfect disco melody makes this one of Erasure's finest triumphs. Despite the marvel of Rain, it is followed by another storming track in Worlds On Fire. Whilst lyrically a tad unadventurous, the lyrical melodies (and beautiful backing vocals in the chorus), along with one of Vince's most intriguing and unique sounding musical arrangements come together to produce a fabulous track.

Now this is more like it. If there is one band that defines world pop music then it's got to be Erasure. From the disco ballads of 'Rain' and 'Worlds On Fire' to the camp joy that is 'Save Me Darling', Erasure prove the secret to making loads of great albums is to write loads of great songs.

Sunday Mirror

Reach Out is a strong Erasure song, one that took a little while for me to fully appreciate. Another up-tempo beat once more provides Andy with the platform to do what he does best, helped by fine backing vocals from Andy Caine and Paul Williams. In My Arms is a wonderful Erasure ballad; a worthy single, it deserved the relative success it achieved Stateside. A beautiful, understated song, apparently inspired vocally as an apology for cheating on a partner, the song's excellent soft melody and slick production makes this song one of Erasure's best. Don't Say Your Love Is Killing Me is one of the few anomalies in this album. An over-long title detracts some credibility and it was a poor choice as Cowboy's second single. Despite the occasional silliness in the vocals, the powerful melody not only salvages this song, it actually makes it one that's hard to dislike in any meaningful way.

Precious is also no classic and is possibly the weakest track on this extremely strong album. There is little wrong with it; it has another fine backing from Vince and Andy's lyrics are romantic and dreamy but it lacks the punch and infectious nature evident in many of the other Cowboy tracks. Treasure completes the tiny mid-album dip of slightly less-than-great songs, but with its interesting imagery, computerised voices and another fine performance from Andy it is by no means a poor song. The production by Gareth Jones and Neil McLellan, as with all the album is of the highest standard, with that polished discoy feel found in most tracks. Boy is another wonderful Erasure track, complimented by a superbly potent chorus and layered arrangement. This is another song that can so easily fill your head leaving you humming it all day. This would have made an excellent single, as would have How Can I Say. Similar in style to Boy, it possesses all its strengths with Andy once again excelling himself vocally, especially throughout the chorus. Vince delivers another sharp, professional arrangement which makes this another great Erasure effort.

Fans' Best/Worst Of

Top 3 Songs
  1. Save Me Darling
  2. In My Arms
  3. Don't Say Your Love Is Killing Me
Bottom 2 Songs
  1. Love Affair
  2. Reach Out
Results taken from Poll 2008-09

With so many strong songs it is hard to choose the best, but arguably Save Me Darling is Cowboy's optimum. An arrangement of shear genius once again intrinsically linked with Andy's mind-blowing, powerful vocals, this song deserves a place in anybody's music collection. Some wonderful lyrics merely add weight to the claims as this as one of Erasure's finest ever tracks. The album concludes with the mandatory ballad, in this case Love Affair. Another fine and emotive track to conclude this album, which remains my all-time favourite.

American versions of the album include a cover version of Magic Moments, which is a pleasant rendition of song but musically would be more at home on the I Say I Say I Say album. The limited edition CD is also home to another cover version, this time Blondie's Rapture. Whilst this cover is a bit of fun (worth hearing for Vince's rap alone), it is b-side fodder and is nowhere near the high quality of the rest of the album.

Summary

Although not over popular generally amongst fans, I regard this as Erasure's finest hour, at least as albums go. Some argue it is too commercial and unexperimental, but I feel Andy and Vince hit the nail on the head as far as perfect song writing goes. With superb production, melodic and vocal performances, the album deserved to be enjoyed on a wider scale than it was. Mute must take some blame for this album's relative failure, with so many possible hits on this album only two genuine singles were released, and Don't Say Your Love Is Killing Me was not a good choice. However the musical climate was now heavily entrenched in dreary Britpop and unable to complete with the Zeitgeist this album ultimately proved to be Erasure's second consecutive album flop.

Fan Reviews

Below are some fan reviews written by visitors to this very site. Once you've read these, please feel free to use the form at the end of the page to write your own review.

  1. It’s pretty much the best latest Erasure album. I bought it last summer and it was the soundtrack to my life for a very long time. I love it to bits. If you dont have this, you really don’t know what you are missing out on. Not a single skipable track.

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by mark, Stratford
    10 January 2006 10:39 pm (GMT)
  2. Whoo I get to review Cowboy! As Onge surely remembers, this is my favorite album ever, and one of the first cd’s I bought back when the price was too high for my very limited “income”. But let’s get started. “Rain” is quite simply an excellent introduction for an excellent album, a great choice for a single and a very uptempo song, just like those old Erasure classics! The next stop is “Worlds on Fire”, again a danceable track, again a song full of those trademark Erasure sounds, again very enjoyable. “Reach Out” is the lower point in the album (which only means it’s only a high ride from now on!), perhaps due to the not-so-sensational chorus. Then we listen to my favorite song in the whole world, “In My Arms”, which I consider practically perfect in every way (just like Mary Poppins, he); is it a ballad, is it a dance song, or is it both? or is it all you need? It’s all I need, in any case. The next one is “Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me”, perhaps not the greatest choice for a single but nonetheless a great song to dance. “Precious” reminds us that Erasure is not all about dancing, that they do gorgeous ballads too, and what a gorgeous ballad is this. We then shift to “Treasure”, to a time when the West was Wild and Clint Eastwood roamed the plains, an unconventional song but a satisfying one. “Boy” follows up, showing that Andy Bell truly is a gifted singer, and a passionate songwriter. Next song is “How Can I Say” which is good -not great-, the song’s basic structure (vocals, lyrics, main music) is pretty average but the background beeps are really nice. “Save Me Darling” is to some people the best track in Cowboy,and while I don’t adhere to that opinion it certainly is a very good song, another Erasure classic. The final song in the UK edition is “Love Affair”, a semi-acoustic ballad that works really well, with beautiful lyrics. Lucky me, the NA Cowboy contains 2 extra tacks 2 that, although they’re covers, are good. First one is Blondie’s “Rapture”, which doesn’t sound very Erasurelike, and features Vince rapping (!). Love it. The other one is the classic “Magic Moments”, a funny finale to a really good Erasure album. Cowboy is Erasure back to basics, almost like a sequel to Chorus but outstanding on its own right.

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by DM Jedabak, Morelia, México
    19 January 2006 1:46 am (GMT)
  3. First of all: Hey, Jean, I won’t dare to give to this one nothing less than Grade 10, since I don’t want to become your enemy, since you are too smart even for a smart cat like me… Just kidding. I gave 10 because it really deserves! By the way, since when is the totally annoying Mary Poppins a perfect thing?! (ahahahaha) Cowboy is surely an amazing work from Erasure and it was relatively well-received by fans after the (U-N-F-A-I-R) disappointment provoked by the self-titled . It was work that brings Erasure back to the lyrics-chorus-lyrics-chorus-solo-chorus formula with total force, I mean all their songs pratically follow that straight way and this is not a deffect (at least to me), nevertheless I sincerely would like they recorded more unusual albums – like Erasure or Loveboat – once in a while… (please, don’t hate me for saying this). Anyway, it’s really undeniable that Cowboy is a totally irresistible one, mainly because it’s so much happy than Erasure. I mean its lyrics are wonderfully romantic and despite almost all of them talk about love, Andy took care of not sounding repetitive on dealing with love theme many times, since he did it under different perspectives in every song. In addition, it’s a very, very dancing one, including I tend to believe Clarke & Bell had flirted with techno here (a musical style that was very popular on 1997 because of songs like Born Slippy Nuxx from Underworld), since its beats are stronger than their previous albums in a general way. It owns only one track that is really bad and it is Reach Out, just because it owns such a poor lyrics at my opinion and its synths are boring too… Regarding its 3 single-tracks, my fave one is In My Arms, whose lyrics & synths are incredibly good. Nevertheless I consider Rain is so highly inspired as that other one. But when someone said he/she adores Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me, I think how this is possible. Ok, it’s not a bad track indeed, but I do consider it lacks something on it for being taken as a really great one. I can even enjoy this one nowadays, but it’s quite hard to me to understand how this one was chosen for being the 2nd single from Cowboy instead of the sublime Save Me Darling (the greatest moment from Cowboy to me) or the sensational How Can I Say (almost so great as Save Me Darling) or even the terrific Boy (a very beautiful ballad and the first song openly gay from Andy, I think). In relation to the other tracks, my fave one is Treasure, which is the most “cowboy” moment from Cowboy in terms of sound & lyrics. It really seems an one made for playing on a Western movie. Worlds On Fire and Precious are both half ballad half dancing and they are very good tracks but not so great as In My Arms. By its turn, Love Affair is the only real ballad here and it’s really, really beautiful and it sounds as a cinematographic one to me. I mean it seems a song made for a romantic and cool movie. The delightful Magic Moments was added subsequently to this work and it’s a cover from Burt Bacharach, who is simply one of the greatest all-time songwriters, including Andy has said on interviews Mr. Bacharach’s songs has been a source of inspiration to him and this help to explain why Andy is such a talented musician. So this is Cowboy to me, an album that wasn’t so largely ignored as Erasure or Loveboat, but it certainly deserved more attention, just like those two other ones.

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Ocean Soul, Rio de Janeiro
    27 January 2006 10:51 pm (GMT)
  4. Cowboy continues the simple synth-pop formula with slight influence from country music.. Includes great compositions such as: “don’t say your love is killing me”, “boy” and “how can i say”. An ok record that’s nothing special, but worth listening :)

    7 out of 10
    Reviewed by jemuvompo, Finland
    30 January 2006 9:42 pm (GMT)
  5. Their most commercial sounding album. Save Me Darling and Worlds On Fire should have been singles.

    8 out of 10
    Reviewed by Steve, reading
    12 February 2006 12:44 pm (GMT)
  6. ONE OF MY FAVOURITE ALBUMS. I LIKE EVERY SINGLE TRACK. MY FAVOURITES BEING SAVE ME DARLING, DON’T SAY YOUR LOVE IS KILLING ME, IN MY ARMS , BOY AND BEST OF ALL – RAIN. – WHAT A TUNE TO START THE ALBUM. THIS HAS A MORE POPPY FEEL TO IT COMPARED TO OTHER ALBUMS. HOWEVER, THE BALLADS ARE ALSO AMAZING. I LIKE THE WESTERNY TREASURE AND WORLDS ON FIRE REMINDS ME OF YAZOO. EXCELLENT ALL ROUND. WELL DONE VINCE AND ANDY!

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by KEVIN, ESSEX
    4 July 2007 4:58 pm (GMT)
  7. RAIN [10/10]
    WORLDS ON FIRE [10/10]
    REACH OUT [8/10]
    IN MY ARMS [10/10]
    DON’T SAY YOUR LOVE IS KILLING ME [10/10]
    PRECIOUS [9/10]
    TREASURE [8/10]
    BOY [9/10]
    HOW CAN I SAY [10/10]
    SAVE ME DARLING [10/10]
    LOVE AFFAIR [7/10]

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Michael, Amarillo, TX
    27 July 2007 7:07 am (GMT)
  8. With a fine collection of straightforward pop songs, and the least musical embellishment of any Erasure album since Wonderland, Cowboy is a strong example of their work and a tutorial for all aspiring songwriters.
    Rain – the perfect start. After the first few bars you can imagine Vince checking his monitors, seeing everything is fine and sitting back to let Andy do what he does best. Sung with passion and expression, especially in the chorus, this is a great song. Accompanied by silver paper ‘rain’ falling from the rafters at the 1997 live show. Worlds On Fire – urges you to embrace love as the route to happiness. Reach Out – an optimistic, upbeat call to a partner to keep a couple together, complete with more hand dancing opportunities in the chorus. In My Arms – the first single, released between the Tiny and Cowboy tours, it swirls along colourfully from magenta to bright blue. Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me – the frustration of hearing ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ put into a song. Tries a bit too hard for some tastes, but I like it. Precious – a slower dreamy tune with some lovely lyrics. Silver is the colour reference this time. Treasure – a welcome return for the social conscience song, although as this album has a Wild West theme I’d say it talks about the displacement of Native Americans in the 19th century. But I could be wrong. Boy – like Cry So Easy but with 11 years’ more life experience. How Can I Say – brilliant musical interlude before the final chorus and another chance for Andy to really get his vocal cords going. Save Me Darling – probably the only Erasure song to contain a cricket reference, and it’ll knock you for six when you hear it. Love Affair – take your chances when they come. Another great rounding off ballad.

    8 out of 10
    Reviewed by Paul, UK
    4 August 2011 12:36 pm (GMT)
  9. Poor album

    2 out of 10
    Reviewed by Lula
    2 January 2013 12:24 am (GMT)
  10. maybe its their most underrating album ever

    its better than ERASURE and so much better than LOVEBOAT with this album they came back with 3 minutes pop songs and all songs are good, there is not one filler on this album

    BOY/SAVE ME DARLING/TREASURE/IN MY ARMS are my favourites they are awesome gay themed songs

    in my arms was a success in the us (peak # 55) and was a small hit on pop radio

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by Christianz Germany
    14 November 2013 9:47 pm (GMT)

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