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REVIEW: Erasure – From Moscow To Mars (Anthology Boxset) [2016]

THIS IS NOT RETRO SAYS...

Earlier this year I spent some time with Vince Clarke at his home studio for an interview about his Very Records label for Electronic Sound. As I followed him up the stairs out of his sub-basement and up toward the leafy Brooklyn street he calls home, I permitted myself the indulgence of admitting to have been an Erasure fan forever, something that you're told you're never supposed to do in this game. Hearing this, Clarke turned his head, offered a charismatic grin and said “Yep, I'm a pretty big fan too.”

ERASURE - From Moscow To Mars (2016)

Enjoying the job you do is pretty important, and Erasure’s thirty year legacy, the celebration of which arrives in the form of the From Moscow To Mars boxset, shows very clearly that Vince Clarke and Andy Bell still get a kick out of what they do. Bell describes one of electronic pop’s most enduring duos as like a long, ongoing collaboration, and that's illustrated – especially when listening to the three discs of singles included within this sumptuous box – by how the pair are continually finding new things to get excited about.

The key attraction of From Moscow To Mars is not, however, being able to hear the duo’s singles in sequence; that lies in the discs devoted to Bell and Clarke choosing their favourite moments from their back catalogue, two CDs of B-sides, copious rarities, live tracks, the complete and long out-of-print Wild! tour concert film, and, somewhat inevitably, remixes.

Bell told me last year about how much he enjoyed the process of writing B-sides, where more limited studio time often meant that ideas flowed far quicker, or where the duo could be more adventurous than the charts would perhaps tolerate. The tracks selected here range from covers of Blondie, ABBA, Morricone and Grieg to simply devastating moments like ‘Tenderest Moments’ or ‘The Hardest Part’ or the county twang of ‘Don't Suppose’. Erasure B-sides never had the feel of offcuts, often diving headlong into areas that you'd never expect from an outwardly pop-facing pair: tracks like the sampleadelic ‘Sweet Sweet Baby’ may be utterly of their time, but they showed that Erasure had a very firm awareness of what was going on just below the surface of the charts.

More illuminating still are the discs devoted to rarities, specifically the unreleased demos and early versions of tracks that would be developed into full tracks. Thirty years in, the songwriting methods the pair employ are very little changed, with the pair locking themselves away with one of Clarke’s many acoustic guitars to compose melodies that they'd record to tape, Bell’s lyrics slowly evolving from wordless harmonising into full compositions. To hear evidence of that is one of the best features of this entire box. Some of these tracks have appeared before, such as Andy Bell’s original audition version of ‘Who Needs Love’, and there are presumably many, many more of the demo tracks kicking around. Or maybe not: Bell also says that Clarke, being rather parsimonious, often recorded over the tapes they put their demos on.

Given the choice between B-sides and remixes, most people would choose the former any day. Fortunately, most of the remixes here are from that golden ‘12” extended mix’ era, or at the very least dispense with that idea of bludgeoning the original track into submission and just retaining snatches of vocal or melody. The assorted previously-released mixes are rounded out by new versions by Vince Clarke (with a version of ‘Waiting For The Day’ that sounds like it was how the song should have sounded all along), Little Boots and Jack Antonoff, presumably repaying the favour for the work that Vince did on his debut Bleachers LP.

The massive undertaking arrives at the end of a year in which the pair have overseen the complete vinyl reissue of their album catalogue and the release of a new greatest hits compilation. It might have the look and feel of a futuristic tombstone, but From Moscow To Mars, as its title from the oft-forgotten single ‘Star’ indicates, represents a thirty year journey – a journey that the duo are very firmly still on with a new album in the works and plenty more rocket fuel left in the tanks.

REVIEWED BY

Mat Smith

WE'LL GIVE IT...

TRACKLISTING

DISC ONE
CD – SINGLES
Who Needs Love Like That / Heavenly Action / Oh L’Amour / Sometimes / It Doesn’t Have To Be / Victim Of Love / The Circus / Ship Of Fools / Chains Of Love / A Little Respect / Stop! / Drama! / You Surround Me / Blue Savannah / Star / Chorus

DISC TWO
CD – SINGLES
Love To Hate You / Am I Right? / Breathe Of Life / Take A Chance On Me / Always / Run To The Sun / I Love Saturday / Stay With Me / Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day) / Rock Me Gently / In My Arms / Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me / Rain / Freedom / Moon & The Sky / Solsbury Hill / Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me)

DISC THREE
CD – SINGLES
Breathe / Don’t Say You Love Me / Here I Go Impossible Again / All This Time Still Falling Out Of Love / Boy (Acoustic) / I Could Fall In Love With You / Sunday Girl / Storm In A Teacup / Sucker For Love / When I Start To (Break It All Down) / Be With You / Fill Us With Fire / Gaudete / Make It Wonderful / Elevation / Reason / Sacred

DISC FOUR
CD – COMPILED BY ANDY BELL
Fill Us With Fire / Save Me Darling / Fly Away / Here I Go Impossible Again / Witch In The Ditch / Miracle / Siren Song / Mad As We Are / Boy (Acoustic) / Joan / I Bet You’re Mad At Me / Golden Heart / A Long Goodbye / What Will I Say When You’re Gone / Brother & Sister / Whole Lotta Love Run Riot

DISC FIVE
CD – COMPILED BY VINCE CLARKE
Sono Luminus / Because You’re So Sweet / Love Affair / Home / Alien / Precious / Don’t Dance / How My Eyes Adore You / Boy / Blues Away / Spiralling (Acoustic) / Piano Song / Tenderest Moments (Acoustic) / Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime / Cry So Easy / You’ve Got to Save Me Right Now / Weight Of The World

DISC SIX
CD – B-SIDES
Supernature / The Hardest Part / When I Needed You / She Won’t Be Home / Knocking On Your Door / Don’t Suppose / Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! / Over The Rainbow / Waiting For Sex / Tenderest Moments / March On Down The Line / Dreamlike State / The Soldier’s Return / Heart Of Glass (Live In Oxford) / Let It Flow / Runaround On The Underground / Rapture / Paradise

DISC SEVEN
CD – B-SIDES
La La La / Truly, Madly, Deeply / Like Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor / Sweet Sweet Baby / True Love Wars / Ghost / Hi NRG / The Good The Bad And The Ugly / In The Name Of The Heart / Die 4 Love / Tragic / First Contact / Love Is Colder Than Death / Don’t Say No / In The Hall of The Mountain King / No G.D.M / Take Me On A Highway / Tomorrow’s World

DISC EIGHT
CD – REMIXES
A Little Respect – Extended Mix / Waiting for The Day – Vince Clarke Remix / Supernature – William Orbit Remix / Blue Savannah – Little Boots Remix / S.O.S – Perimeter Mix / Love To Hate You – Bruce Forest Remix / Snappy (The Spice has Risen Mix) / Ship Of Fools – Gjone & Nicka Stella Polaris Remix / The Circus – The Equalateral Mix / Elevation – Jack Antonoff Remix / Stay With Me – Guitar Mix

DISC NINE
CD – REMIXES
Stop! – 12″ Remix / I Could Fall In Love With You – Jeremy Wheatley 12″ Mix / Always – Always in Motion / Blue Savannah – Out Of The Blue Remix / Oh L’Amour – Almighty Remix / Chorus – Aggressive Trance Mix / Heavenly Action – Matt Pop’s Planet Cupid Mix / Breath Of Life – Joey Beltram Mix / You Surround Me (Syrinx Mix) / If I Could – Japanese Mix / Rock Me Gently – A Combination of Special Events

DISC TEN
CD – LIVE
Victim Of Love – The Circus Tour 1987 / Knocking On Your Door – The Erasure Show 2005 / A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot – Tomorrow’s World Tour 2011 / Joan – The Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour 1992 / Witch In The Ditch – The Innocents Tour 1988 / I Bet You’re Mad At Me – The Erasure Show 2005 / Home – The Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour 1992 / Spiralling – The Innocents Tour 1988 / Sunday Girl – Light At The End Of The World Tour 2007 / Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me – An Evening With Erasure 1997 / Breathe – The Erasure Show 2005 / Sometimes – The Innocents Tour 1988 / Tenderest Moments – The Acoustic Tour 2006 / Ave Maria – The Erasure Show 2005 / The Soldiers Return – The Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour 1992 / I Could Fall In Love With You – Light At The End Of The World Tour 2007 / A Little Respect – The Innocents 1988

DISC ELEVEN
CD – RARITIES
Who Needs Love Like That (Audition Version) / Blue (Searching) / Piano (Tomorrow’s World Demo) / Waiting For The Day (Demo) / Siempre – (Always – Spanish Version) / 2000 Miles – (Monteverde 7″ Mix) / Chanson (Moon & The Sky French Demo) / Am I Right? (Guitar Demo) / Worlds On Fire (Demo) / Run To The Sun (Demo) / Breath Of Life (Piano Demo) / Alien (Demo) / Whole Lotta Love Run Riot (Demo) / Moon & The Sky – (The Beatmasters Remix) / Untitled (Loveboat Demo) / Amo Odiarti (Love To Hate You – Italian Disco Anthem Mix) / UK Vibe 3 (Tomorrow’s World Demo) / Symphony / Reason (Sirius XM Radio Session)

DISC TWELVE
CD – DOCUMENTARY
A Little Respect: 30 Years of Erasure (Radio Documentary)

DISC THIRTEEN
DVD – THE WILD! CONCERT
Piano Song / How Many Times? / You Surround Me / Knocking On Your Door / Brother And Sister / Crown Of Thorns / Star / Chains Of Love / Hideaway / Supernature / Sometimes / The Hardest Part / Oh L’Amour / Drama! / A Little Respect / Spiralling / La Gloria / Ship Of Fools / It Doesn’t Have To Be / Blue Savannah / Who Needs Love Like That / Stop! / Victim Of Love + Backstage Footage

RELEASE DETAILS

'From Moscow To Mars' is released on December 9th 2016 and is available to pre-order now from the links below.

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CONTENT ADDED: Nov 18th, 2016

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