Other People's Songs is an eclectic collection of cover version that have been given the Erasure treatment. Initially an Andy Bell side project, this album was recorded in close collaboration with producer Gareth Jones, who had previously co-produced the Wild!, Erasure and Cowboy albums. The album opens with Solsbury Hill, which boasts a rich and lush arrangement. This mix, which is infinitely better than the diluted Mike Spencer Radio Mix that go so much airplay, is impeccably produced which goes some way to laying to ghosts of Loveboat's sometimes amateur sounding production to rest. The track progresses at a good rate and climaxes well, but it's not a great song to start with. The poor lyrics, the lack of a rhyming structure and the absence of a decent chorus seriously hinder this track and although this is nothing to do with the band, it raises the question why cover such a song in the first place. Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime is a track which at first seems very fragmented. The verses and chorus don't seem to fit together, but this actually adds to the song's appeal. Although understated musically and vocally, it all comes together nicely and is one of the better tracks on this album. Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me) is a classic piece of song writing and Andy, Vince and Gareth have collaborated to create a stomping rendition of this track. The song has Erasure's distinct presence, but most importantly it's fun to listen to, which not only captures the spirit of the song, but adds a nice kick and twist too.
The song interpretations coexist nicely with the originals rather than make anyone forget them, but there's a more important breakthrough here: Erasure hasn't been this fun in years.Advocate.com
Everyday isn't as good as the tracks that have come before it, partly because it is lyrically weak and partly because the overuse of some synthesized sound effects in the arrangement (which resemble a cross between a mouse and a whale). It has a quirky appeal undeniably but doesn't feel as accomplished as it could have been. Thankfully this is the shortest track on the album at only two minutes. When Will I See You Again gets things back on track, with Vince and Gareth's arrangement complimenting the song nicely and once more Andy sounds excellent. The middle eight is perhaps again blighted by an overuse of synthesized noises, but this does not detract from the listener's enjoyment. Walking In The Rain is a pseudo-R'n'B number which the band don't really manage to pull off. Lyrically and melodically weak, it is puzzling why this song was covered at all given it's overall lack of appeal. At least it goes to show the diverse tastes the band has.
True Love Ways is a simple and basic ballad, which has a fairground waltz feel to it. It is extremely unspectacular and Andy even seems to whisper one of the lyrics (they appear to have been recorded in one take to give the track an almost unplugged feel), which just sounds a bit odd and disconcerting. It is by no means an awful track, but it is not one that lives long in the memory. The album steps up the tempo with the dancy Ebb Tide. The song is fairly fast paced and builds up to quite the finale, and whilst there's nothing particularly wrong with either the music or vocals, it doesn't quite hit the mark. Can't Help Falling In Love follows and is a decent cover, but seems to lack a cutting edge. Andy sounds as gorgeous as always and Vince and Gareth's arrangement works well, but the song never really gets the pulse racing. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' is a superb track and another top-class cover version. Vince and Gareth have created a fine and subtle arrangement that acts as the springboard for Andy to excel vocally. Andy does the job of two vocalists once again proving why he has the best voice in the business.
The tempo next slows for the utterly gorgeous Goodnight. This song is exceptionally beautiful with Andy's emotive vocals shining over Vince and Gareth's subtle musical construct. Musically this track brings back memories of Yazoo's Winter Kills, but is a far more uplifting song. A great Erasure track. Unfortunately the album crashes and burns upon its disappointing conclusion with Video Killed The Radio Star. Sung by Vince's Mac computer, it is a soulless, contrived, laughable mess which is hideously misplaced on this album. It has b-side written all over it, and a not very good one at that.
After the harsh and minimalistic stylings of Loveboat, it was refreshing to have the old Erasure style back for Other People's Songs. There's no doubting this album is very much a mixed bag, ranging from the brilliance of Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me) and Goodnight to the terrible Video Killed The Radio Star (which I regard to be the band's worst ever album track). I've generally not mentioned the original artists or versions of the songs as I prefer judge these covers on their own merits. Put any prejudices over the original songs you might have to one side when listening to Other People's Songs and you'll find a worthwhile, if somewhat flawed, album.
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