Other People's Songs

Onge's Review

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.

Fans' Best/Worst Of

Top 3 Songs
  1. Solsbury Hill
  2. Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me)
  3. Goodnight
Bottom 2 Songs
  1. Video Killed The Radio Star
  2. Ebb Tide
Results taken from Poll 2008-09

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.

Summary

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.

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. Erasure doing other people’s song?! Come on! Vince and Andy are very talented on writing their own songs.

    SOLSBURY HILL [7/10]
    EVERBODY’S GOT TO LEARN SOMETIME [6/10]
    MAKE ME SMILE [7/10]
    EVERYBODY [4/10]
    WHEN WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN [4/10]
    WALKING IN THE RAIN [3/10]
    TRUE LOVE WAYS [5/10]
    EBB TIDE [5/10]
    CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE [6/10]
    YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN’ [6/10]
    GOODNIGHT [8/10]
    VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR [1/10]

    5 out of 10
    Reviewed by Michael, Amarillo, TX
    31 December 2005 6:41 pm (GMT)
  2. A tour-de-force return from the Kings. While some songs were more of favorites than others, overall the album is a masterpiece of impeccable production. Just as some were wondering if Erasure was going to leave us, Solsbury Hill was unleashed, rivalling the original with its brilliance. Crisp, fresh, new takes on timeless classics, some well-known and loved…and some now well-known and loved.

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by Mig, Santa Cruz, CA
    1 January 2006 2:19 pm (GMT)
  3. I really didn’t like this. But that doesn’t mean you won’t. It’s not as bad as you might think really.

    4 out of 10
    Reviewed by mark, Stratford
    10 January 2006 10:41 pm (GMT)
  4. I like this – its fun

    8 out of 10
    Reviewed by Stewart, Slovenia
    11 January 2006 2:29 pm (GMT)
  5. Well, I can start to talk about this album saying it owns one of the best beginnings from all Erasure’s ones. I mean the opening sequel with Solsbury Hill, Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime and Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) sounds awesome to me! And I really see these 3 covers as 3 of the best ones made by Erasure. This work is actually taken as a waste of time by many fans and I think one of the reasons it’s because it didn’t bring covers from more popular artists among their fans, after all who loves Erasure tend to admire mainly other contemporary pop (and more specifically synthpop) ones to Erasure and not “too old things” like Three Degrees or Buddy Holly… Well, I agree on this point with those fans’ expectations, since I was also hoping an covers album full of 80’s Pop classics… Anyhow, I consider Clarke & Bell could give to all those old songs an Erasure’s face and I can mention more 4 covers that I love here, which are: Goodnight, where Andy could get one of his best performances in ballads ; You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, a very good cover to me, despite the opinions from some critics that considered Vince & Andy pratically “killed the lovin’ feelin'” here ; Everyday, Ok it’s a too foolish song but it sounds irresistibly catchy to my small ears ; and Ebb Tide, a very old ballad that was surprisingly recorded with infectious beats that turned it into a very dancing one. Regarding Walking In The Rain and True Love Ways (a song that seems made for a couple that is running one to another in a desert beach just like in a tacky movie from the 70’s), I consider both ones as yawning moments on this record, despite the great vocals produced by Andy. Can’t Help Falling In Love, When Will I See You Again and Video Killed The Radio Star are just Ok moments.

    7 out of 10
    Reviewed by Ocean Soul, Rio de Janeiro
    25 January 2006 11:38 pm (GMT)
  6. Well, don’t have much to say about this. Erasure has done a cover album with their own style, succeeding..somehow. :|

    5 out of 10
    Reviewed by jemuvompo, Finland
    30 January 2006 7:42 pm (GMT)
  7. Erasure reworking/singing other peoples songs???

    It worked fabulously , i was very sceptical about this pure work of art imo. Vince and Andy done a superb job. Doing cover versions of such timeless classics is always going to attract critisism. It did take me a few listens to adjust to this album,as it is quite different.

    There is only one track i don’t like much. But then again i didn’t care much for the original one anyway. (Ebb tide).

    The rest of them are awesome! Right from “Solsbury hill” to the hauntingly beautiful “Goodnight” and the very interesting “Video killed the radio star”. If you want to hear something a little different then this is a great album to get.

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by stompydebs, Bristol Uk
    19 February 2006 1:11 am (GMT)
  8. Some songs I’ve heard Erasure Cover whihc I think sound have been included :

    Stand By Your Man, Over The Rainbow, Heart of Glass and Baby Love!

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Shaun, UK
    16 October 2007 2:52 pm (GMT)
  9. Have to say I love erasure and most of their albums but this was a major disappointment-very so so production and a terrible version of Video Killed the Radio Star which Andy declined to sing on- the production on this track is especially bad and typifies an album which seems like a stop gap by two performer who got tired and fed up making albums. While other fans will argue that this is a good album it couldn’t really be considered in the same league as the wonderful ‘Chorus’ or Innocents!

    4 out of 10
    Reviewed by Paraic Elliott, Dublin
    21 February 2008 9:04 pm (GMT)
  10. It’s nice to get an insight into what Vince and Andy like but I much prefer their own work, unless they’re covering Abba. Solsbury Hill was a good effort, and the album formed the basis of the 2003 tour, but this is mainly a record to own out of interest.

    5 out of 10
    Reviewed by Paul, UK
    2 August 2011 4:21 pm (GMT)
  11. OPS is a wasted opportunity at a time when erasure needed to provide us with something really special. Panned in most places by fans and critics alike, OPS isn’t a ‘bad’ album’, it’s just a pointless one.

    OK, it succeeded in getting them radio play, a few top 20 hits, a spot on TOTP and the Graham Norton show, but the question for me wasn’t so much about doing a covers album, as the covers themselves.

    There’s nothing wrong with covers; some artists have made covers their own: Annie lennox’s ‘No More I Love You’s'; Marc Almond’s ‘Tainted Love -, whilst other (so called) artists make a career out of them – (Westlife anybody?)
    OPS was to be a solo project for Andy, and it was only by chance that Vince (and sadly Gareth Jones) got involved. A covers project by erasure could have been enormous fun, AND an enormous success (as Abba-esque so effectively proved), the problem here is that the band take proceedings far too seriously. OK some of the arrangements here are quite fun, however in interviews it is clear that both V&A wanted to pay homage to their favourite artists in a genuine and serious way. Vince wanted to keep arrangements faithful and Andy wanted to ‘croon’ like his idols from the 50’s and 60’s. Hence erasure fans are treated to a mixed bag of songs that never deviate enough from the originals to be truly erasure and that often sound rushed and uninspired in the arrangements.

    Solisbury Hill works 100%, and in my opinion is the bast track on the album. It ‘sounds’ like an erasure song, both lyrically and in its production, with complex layers of sound and Andy on top form. Everybody’s Got To learn ‘should’ be an ideas cover too, and whilst Andy handle’s the song with ease, Vince never truly ‘lets go’. This could have been a sweeping, evocative interpretation, instead, its a rather flat carbon copy. Make Me Smile is great and another wortjy addition in that erasure truly own this; like Solisbury Hill, you could imageing this being an erasure original. The album falls apart at this point.

    What should have been a commercial hot-bed of hits swiftly becomes a salute to the 1950s; not exactly a decade I can imagine many erasure fans are overly familiar or in love with.

    Cynical as it might sound, erasure ‘should’ have chosen songs like Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, and similar hi-NRG hits for the remaining 8 songs – whilst this may sound cheesy, they could certainly have done more with this type of song than ‘True Love Ways’, which again, showcases an Andy on top form, but is a too faithful, humourless and frankly pointless cover version. The remaining tracks are unworthy of individual analysis, as the same criticism above applies to all but one of the remaining recordings… that being the controversial Video Killed The radio Star.

    Many fans have universally panned this track, but after Solisbury Hill, this is my favourite! Not because I love the song, but because this is one of 3 tracks on the whole album where something different is happening to the tune; where it has been ‘erasurised’ if you will!!! Gone is the carbon copy sequence of chords and notes and in comes some attempt to do something original and different; and that’s what a cover should be!

    OPS is still an essential part of any self respecting erasure fan, but after a few listens, there’s not enough in there to keep you coming back. If erasure aren’t to get labelled ‘a covers band’ they’ll need to try a lot harder than this the next time they’re tempted by ‘other people’s songs’.

    6 out of 10
    Reviewed by Starlight UK
    4 August 2011 11:18 am (GMT)
  12. One of the weakest works of Erasure. Something good (“Solsbury Hill”,”You’ve Lost That Lovin’Feeling”,”Goodnight”) but the rest of the record it’s simply disappointing.

    4 out of 10
    Reviewed by Christian-Genoa,Italy
    5 May 2013 8:27 pm (GMT)
  13. Strange territory here. This album is arguably the groups only truly misadventure. There are two possibly listenable tracks here (Solisbury and Come up–not bad just not a patch on the original and a bit pointless) while the rest of the album is either bland or down right awful -the track Video Killed the Radio star is a poor demo at best. Avoid.

    4 out of 10
    Reviewed by Pmr31
    2 July 2013 3:54 pm (GMT)
  14. where are your ideas ANDY and VINCENT ?

    this album was released after their nearly career end

    but solsbury hill is good which helped them to continue their career with mixed success

    other songs are horible

    2 out of 10
    Reviewed by Christianz Germany
    14 November 2013 9:58 pm (GMT)

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