The Innocents

Onge's Review

The Innocents was a phenomenally successful Erasure album, and remains their biggest selling original album to date by far. Produced by Stephen Hague, who had worked with the likes of Pet Shop Boys, OMD and New Order, the album topped the charts from its release, only to regain the number one spot again eighteen months later. Extremely popular with the fans, The Innocents is widely regarded as their finest work. The timeless A Little Respect, one of the band's most successful singles, opens the album. The staggeringly effective instrumentalisation and faultless vocals result in a fabulous song that worthy enough to open any album. Second up is Ship Of Fools, which was co-produced by Dave Jacob. Another masterpiece, this song has a wonderfully effective backing from Vince over potent lyrics of confusion and frustration. Beautifully sung throughout, with Andy's sultry lower register contrasting the falsetto of the previous track, this is a truly marvellous pop song.

Bell's singing has grown increasing confident and the lyrics are more adventurous than standard pop fare, but potentially interesting ideas stumble over rhymes like 'Medusa/Seduce you'.

The Times

The sensational Phantom Bride is next, a wonderful song about a lonely girl and her struggle with life until a man injects some hope into her existence. Perhaps guilty of a slightly weak but still catchy chorus, this is a highly enjoyable number and no doubt would have made an excellent single back in 1988. Indeed, this track was finally released as a single to mark the 21st anniversary edition of the album in 2009. Chains Of Love follows, which remains one of Erasure's more successful American singles. With fine vocal support from Naomi Osborne and Caron Wheeler, a typically catchy chorus and another fine arrangement from Vince, this up-tempo track is a strong track.

Hallowed Ground slows the pace of the album after the previous two energetic tracks. A downcast song full of negative imagery as Andy laments over societies ills, the tone of the track is deep without ever being depressing making Hallowed Ground lyrically one of the band's finest. Sixty-Five Thousand is a very expendable track that offers very little to interest the listener. Dull, and uninspired this really should have been a b-side like most of Erasure's other instrumental tracks.

Fans' Best/Worst Of

Top 3 Songs
  1. A Little Respect
  2. Phantom Bride
  3. Ship Of Fools
Bottom 2 Songs
  1. Sixty-Five Thousand
  2. River Deep, Mountain High
Results taken from Poll 2008-09

Heart Of Stone resurrects the album. The addition of brass by The Kickhorns gives this song an extra thrust, further enhancing the listener's pleasure of this fun and agreeable track. Yahoo! is a pseudo-gospel song, where Andy preaches about the dangers of the Devil and the glory of God. Despite the silliness of the song, it is so uplifting and fun it is hard not to enjoy this track. Imagination is another decent Erasure song, which is made up of a top-tapping chorus with a fine music backdrop. The band show more invention and variety with Witch In The Ditch, with it's pulsating waltz-like arrangement which highlights how varied an individual Erasure album can be. Weight Of The World is a strong conclusion to the album, and although the chorus isn't perhaps as gratifying as it could be, it is still a fine song. Some versions of the album also came with two weak bonus tracks. When I Needed You is quite popular amongst fans, but the vastly contrasting tempos of the verse and chorus create a fragmented song. It seems to me that they were written as two different entities and hurriedly stuck together. River Deep, Mountain High is a decent cover version, perhaps slightly long, which offers nothing astonishing as the album finally fizzles out to its disappointing conclusion.

In 2009, to mark 21 years since this album's original release, the album was remastered and re-released with the 2xCD and DVD box set edition bringing with it a host of extras. Remastered, this album sounds crisper and better than ever whilst saying true to the original recordings. A second CD of b-sides and rarities is a very welcome addition with the Shiver Me Timbers Mix of Ship Of Fools and Country Joe mix of Don't Suppose being the outstanding tracks on offer. The DVD offers a performance from The Innocents Live concert at the NEC in Birmingham as well as performances from the BBC archives. Given the box set is very reasonably priced, it makes for an essential purchase. For the box set, add another half star to the score.

Summary

The Innocents is an album with some great Erasure moments. Stephen Hague's production is exceptionally slick (although perhaps is a little guilty of diluting some of the intricacies of the music too far into the background) and Andy's vocals have rarely sounded better. The weak last few tracks do sadly detract from this album as a whole, as does the unnecessary Sixty-Five Thousand. However the strengths far out-weight the weaknesses, making this a fine addition to any pop fan's CD collection.

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. An album that you wanted to take to bed with you each and every night, to stay warm and content. I love this album beyond words. Erasure’s immense power was now indisputable and demanding of respect and attention. The world was awakening en masse.

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Mig, Santa Cruz, CA
    1 January 2006 2:56 pm (GMT)
  2. The most well-succeeded original album from Erasure is also their most accessible one at my opinion. I remember the 1st time I heard it (on Vinyl record) I was so in love with it that I heard it many times without being bored. Well, this is something totally understandable when you talk about The Innocents, since it’s such a high quality pop one that all their beautiful melodies easily build a house inside your mind. I confess it’s not on my Erasure’s Top 5 albums nowadays, nevertheless I still see this work as a real pop masterpiece. Its 3 singles made a great success and all of them are really great songs, even the overplayed A Little Respect – probably the most known one from Vince & Andy, which is often accused of owning too obvious lyrics. Well it really owns simple ones, but they were smartly constructed by Andy, so it’s not for this reason that ALR deserves to be called as a disposable song. Actually it’s far from being disposable since it’s played and remembered with tenderness until today. Chains Of Love is the other big hit from this album and it’s so great as ALR to me. Andy talks about the difficulties of being in a monogamic relationship when there are so many interesting people around you, then it would be necessary to break the chains of love for living intensely other opportunities of romances. So its point is: “Should I give up love for living more intensely no matter how painful this can be ?”. Despite ALR and COL are more “easy” ones for the popular taste (and this fact proves by itself that V&A are far from being in pop music business just for making money), neither of these two ones was the 1st single taken from Innocents, but a bitter one called Ship Of Fools, which talks about the lose of innocence after discovering how cruel the world can be (actually Chorus single didn’t represent the first time that Erasure released a 1st single from an album that didn’t talk about love, as I said before. Ouch!). Besides these 3 wonderful single-tracks, you can find another pop preciosities here, such as Phantom Bride, which is probably the most beloved non-single song from Clarke & Bell and it’s not by chance it’s so popular, since it owns one of the best lyrics written by them and one of their most catchy melodies. At my interpretation, this one talks about a girl that lives her life in a private world she built for herself, so she needs someone for giving to her a reason to believe in real life and she finally finds this guy, including she gets pregnant from him. A very brilliant and original lyrics, I would say. But I love also: Yahoo!, nearly a gospel one, specially because of its lyrics that just apparently express a unshakable faith from Andy in the biblical God for beating the traps prepaired by the devil ; Witch In The Ditch, whose wonderful Middle-Age both melody & lyrics I have recorded in my mind ; Hallowed Ground, which owns very good and tragic “no mercy for the criminal” lyrics ; ; and finally River Deep, Mountain High which I consider as the 2nd great cover from Erasure (the 1st one is Supernature at my point of ear). In relation to Heart Of Stone (an one with good “honey, don’t leave me” lyrics and very catchy both refrain and melody) ; Imagination (a good song about not being defeated by the “ghosts” from your past that shades your mind) and Weight Of The World (a good song about healing yourself on using your own will & recourses), I enjoy both of them a lot, however I wouldn’t include none of them among the greatest moments from The Innocents. Sixty-Five Thousand is an OK instrumental one and When I Needed You has never meant something special to me. I consider actually this one as so-so…

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Ocean Soul, Rio de Janeiro
    24 January 2006 11:12 pm (GMT)
  3. This album is a real “feelgood” album. Happy, chirpy songs, with a medieval feel about them. Great stuff from a great band!!

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by stompydebs, Bristol Uk
    19 February 2006 1:21 am (GMT)
  4. A LITTLE RESPECT [10/10]
    SHIP OF FOOLS [10/10]
    PHANTOM BRIDE [10/10]
    CHAINS OF LOVE [10/10]
    HALLOWED GROUD [10/10]
    65,000 [3/10]
    HEART OF STONE [8/10]
    YAHOO [8/10]
    IMAGINATION [9/10]
    WITCH IN THE DITCH [7/10]
    WEIGHT OF THE WORLD [10/10]
    –BONUS TRACKS–
    WHEN I NEEDED YOU [10/10]
    RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH [5/10]

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Michael, Amarillo, TX
    27 July 2007 7:23 am (GMT)
  5. One of my favourite albums from Erasure. This album has a nice medievil atmosphere and it includes such great tracks as: A little respect, Ship of fools, Phantom pride and Heart of stone. Fantastic record altough it contais some poor tracks as well.

    8 out of 10
    Reviewed by jemuvompo, Finland
    22 September 2007 3:32 pm (GMT)
  6. The Innocents shows the maturity of the band. We can split this album in two parts: the first one is phenomenal, A Little Respect -perhaps the most covered Erasure song- like Hideaway was taken as a hymn, besides it has a very funny video. Ship Of Fools is one of the most beautiful ballads in their whole career. Phantom Bride, a potential single because of its catchy rhythm. Chains Of Love, the perfect song. After this tremendous beginning, Hallowed Ground loses the power though it is a good song. The instrumental 65.000 is the ideal song for fashion models. Heart Of Stone could have been a single, too. In the second part of this record, Yahoo! sounds fine but without a great chorus. Imagination is a non-inspired song in terms of music. Witch In The Ditch and Weight Of The World follow without surprises and being a bit –just a bit- tedious. The album has two bonus tracks, the first one When I Needed You perhaps the most famous bonus track-Bside, -in Argentina, my country, this is one of the most well-known songs by Erasure even more than Always- as melancholic as Chains Of Love but more sad. The other is a cover of Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High a decent tune.
    Singles’ extra songs: Don’t Suppose: personally, one the worse Erasure songs; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: one of their best covers, extremely danceable; Like Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor: just a good b-side; Love is Colder than Death: in the path of Spiralling but not that good.
    Summary: A fantastic album helped by the optimal choice of the singles.
    —————————————————————————————————
    Unforgettable: in 1988, Erasure also released an EP without connection to this album: Crackers International. A piece of art with four tremendous songs: the world hit Stop!, an unleashed Vince and a demolishing chorus as if it were a telegram, The Hardest Part is a beautiful ballad, then we have Knocking On Your Door, one of the most undervalued tunes –but loved by fans-, a glorious electronic sound from courtesy of master Vince in the path of Just Can’t Get Enough and Yazoo’s Walk Away From Love; at last, Andy offers his emotional poetry in She Won’t Be Home a sad song about loneliness in Christmas.
    Singles’ extra songs: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: a religious song, nice but not extraordinary.
    Summary: Better impossible.
    Rating Crackers International: 10

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by Hernán, Buenos Aires-Argentina
    22 July 2008 9:09 pm (GMT)
  7. A Little Respect – probably the most popular Erasure song amongst the general public. Great tune, easy to sing and remember the words, it has spawned many cover versions and snatches of it featured eight times in the third episode of Scrubs. Ship Of Fools – a confident ballad making great use of the rapidly evolving ‘Erasure sound’. Phantom Bride – deserves its status as the best single that never was, and a source of inspiration for unfairly overlooked females everywhere. Chains Of Love – another great excuse to hit the dance floor. Hallowed Ground – part two of an album-by-album social conscience trilogy, this time exploring the gradual breakdown of traditional society. Sixty-Five Thousand – pointless, but probably done in homage to the original, much older song. Heart Of Stone – another thumping good track, could even have made a fifth single. Yahoo!/Imagination/Witch In The Ditch/Weight Of The World – pleasant fillers but their lack of presence on subsequent live set lists indicates they were never classics. An album arranged like a good batting line-up – get your big hitters in first.

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by Paul, UK
    2 August 2011 1:12 pm (GMT)
  8. In “The Innocents” there are some of the greatest tracks that Erasure did. Songs such “A Little Respect”( what can I say, it’s the song that made me a fan… ), “Ship Of Fools” or “Phantom Bride”,”Chains Of Love”,”Hallowed Ground” or “Heart Of Stone”. All of these are timeless classics. Then there’s a few other decent songs and probably the worst track of the duo (65000). Ups and downs that not allow the whole album to became unforgettable to me, but surely good.

    8 out of 10
    Reviewed by Christian-Genoa,Italy
    9 May 2013 7:27 pm (GMT)
  9. for many the perfect erasure album (personally I think Chorus has the edge). A brilliant pop album full of uptempo synth tracks alongside beautiful melancholic ballads. The only let down is perhaps a pointless instrumental called 65000 and a pretty poor cover of river deep mountain high which take slightly from what is otherwise a great album.

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by Paraic Ireland
    25 June 2013 3:53 pm (GMT)
  10. Just ‘Perfect’

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Steve
    14 November 2013 5:44 pm (GMT)
  11. This was their breakthrough album in the us

    although it peaked only at # 49 it sold over 1,5 million copies to date and was certified PLATINUM (their lone certified studio album)

    and i know the reason. the album is so good ! Every song is a cracker and awesome. Good pop songs from the end of the 80s. They are perfectly produced by Stephen hague, who also produced Pet shop boys and many more.

    A little respect and Chains of love became us top 20 hits, and radio + mtv played their songs every hour at that time

    but also other songs of the album are awesome.

    Namely Phantom bride, ship of fools and yahoo.

    No song is boring or bad

    When i needed you is included on the remastered version, but was not on the original initial release

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Christianz Germany
    14 November 2013 9:38 pm (GMT)

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