October 5, 2011 8:47 AM   Subscribe

While their song Always may be forever enshrined in the minds of a generation of Adult Swim fans as the theme to the online game Robot Unicorn Attack, 80's synth-pop duo Erasure are still around, touring and putting out albums after 26 years.

Their 14th studio album, Tomorrow’s World, was released in the UK on Monday (October 11 in the U.S.), along with an official video for its first released song, When I Start To (Break It All Down). A (better) non-autotuned version labeled "Rehearsal Video" is on YouTube. (An abbreviated history of their work, with official music videos and links to several concerts, can be found within.)

(OK, perhaps not so abbreviated.) ;)

Erasure was formed in 1985, after former Depeche Mode, Yazoo and The Assembly band member Vince Clarke decided to form his own band. Clarke put an ad in Melody Maker (now NME's official magazine for a singer and Andy Bell applied for the job. They are Erasure.

"Bell has said being so open about his sexuality meant they only remained an underground dance act in the US telling Spin magazine, "If I'd never said I was gay I think Erasure would've taken off years ago in America." Clarke explained to Kirk of Melody Maker magazine, "It came back to us that people in the record company in New York were saying it was really bad that Andy was making it plain he was gay because they were worried 'it would affect our sales.'""

Albums / Released Tracks
(The following are a list of all of Erasure’s studio albums and two EP's, and links to their official videos. Audio only or concert performances have been substituted when no official video was created, or locatable online.)

Wonderland (1986)
* Who Needs Love Like That
* Heavenly Action
* Oh L'amour

The Circus (1987)
* It Doesn’t Have To Be
* Sometimes
* The Circus
* Victim of Love (Live)

The Innocents (1988)
* A Little Respect
* Chains of Love
* River Deep, Mountain High (Audio Only)
* Ship of Fools

Crackers International (1988 / EP)
* Stop!

Wild! (1999)
* Blue Savannah
* Drama
* Piano Song
* Star
* You Surround Me

Chorus (1991)
* Am I Right?
* Breath of Life
* Chorus
* Love to Hate You

Abba-Esque (1992 / EP):
* Lay All Your Love On Me
* Take a Chance On Me
* Voulez Vous
** (Not included, but also an ABBA cover: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

I Say I Say I Say (1994)
* Always
* I Love Saturday
* Miracle
* Run to the Sun

Erasure (1995)
* Fingers and Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day)
* Rock Me Gently (Only released in Germany and the Czech Republic)
* Stay With Me

Cowboy (1997)
* Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me
* In My Arms
* Rain
* Rapture (Live)

Loveboat (2000)
* Freedom

Other People’s Songs (2003)
* Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
* Solsbury Hill

Nightbird (2005)
* All This Time Still Falling Out Of Love
* Breathe
* Don’t Say You Love Me
* Here I Go Impossible Again (Audio Only)
* I Bet You’re Mad At Me

Light at The End of the World (2007)
* I Could Fall In Love With You (Background: An official video was created for this song but the band was unsatisfied with it, so “a call was put out for fans to submit pictures or video footage of themselves and loved ones in scenes depicting love or falling in love. These scenes (also including Clarke and Bell) were then edited together into a montage with a "falling in love" theme.)
* Storm in a Teacup (Live)
* Sucker for Love (Live)
* Sunday Girl
* When a Lover Leaves You (Live)

Union Street (2005)
(All songs on this album were previously released on other albums, but had been newly recorded as acoustic versions. Some have a distinct country & western feel. No official videos were released. All listed are audio only)
* How Many Times (originally from Wild!)
* Oh L’Amour (Originally from Wonderland)
* Piano Song (originally from Wild!)
* Rock Me Gently (originally from Erasure)
* Stay with Me (originally from Erasure)

Tomorrow’s World (2011)
* When I Start (To Break It All Down) (Official video, autotuned.)
* When I Start (To Break It All Down) (Rehearsal video: Non-autotuned)

Live Concerts

The Innocents Tour (1988)
* One
* Two
* Three
* Four
* Five
* Bonus Tracks

The Wild Tour (1989)
* YouTube Playlist

Wild! Party Live, at the San Francisco Shoreline Amphitheatre (1990)
* YouTube Playlist

The Tank, The Swan and The Balloon (1992)
(nsfw warning: some bare butts in a few of the videos)
1) Siren Song
2) Ship of Fools
3) Chorus
4) Breath of Life
5) Chains of Love
6) Love to Hate You
7) Joan
8) Voulez Vous
9) Take a Chance on Me
10) SOS
11) Lay All Your Love On Me
12) Am I Right?
13) Oh L'amour
14) Waiting For The Day (and Heart of Stone)
15) Stop!
16) The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
17) Who Needs Love Like That?
18) Stand By Your Man
19) The Soldiers' Return
20) Turns The Love To Anger
21) Star
22) Blue Savannah
23) Over The Rainbow
24) Love is a Loser
25) A Little Respect
26) Sometimes

The Tiny Tour (1996)
YouTube Playlist


Mixes / Audio Only
(As a band whose music is frequently played in clubs, Erasure often releases sanctioned remixes and extended versions of their songs as singles and on EPs. This is a small sampling:)
* A Little Respect (Big Train Mix)
* A Little Respect (Mark Saunders Remix)
* Blue Savannah (Razormaid Remix)
* Breathe (Erasure Interactive Remix)
* Chains of Love (Truly in Love with the Marks Bros Mix)
* Chorus (Deep Cut Mix)
* Chorus (Youth Aggressive Trance Mix)
* Fingers and Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day) (Tin Tin Out Remix)
* The Hardest Part (Extended Mix)
* I Love Saturday (JX Mix)
* If I Could (Japanese Mix)
* Knocking On Your Door (12” Remix)
* Oh L’Amour (Extended Dance Mix)
* Oh L’Amour (Carsten Kroeyer Remix)
* River Deep, Mountain High (Private Dancer Mix)
* Runaround on the Underground (12” Mix)
* Ship of Fools (Shiver Me Timbers Mix)
* Snappy (The Spice Has Risen Mix)
* The Soldier’s Return (The Return of the Radical Radcliffe Mix)
* SOS (Perimeter Mix)
* Star (William Orbit Interstellar Remix)
* Stop! (12” Remix)
* Supernature (William Orbit Remix)
* Who Needs Love Like That? (Club Mix)

Acoustic Versions
* A Little Respect Live
* Always Audio Only
* Because You’re So Sweet Live
* Breathe Video
* Chains of Love Live
* How Many Times Live
* Oh L’Amour Live
* Oh L’Amour, Audio Only
* Sometimes Live / (C&W Style)
* Stay With Me Audio Only
* Sunday Girl, Live

Worth A Listen For Die-Hard Fans
* Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) (Live)
* In the Name of the Heart (Audio Only)
* Phantom Bride (Audio Only)
* She Won’t Be Home (fan video)
* Witch in the Ditch (fan video set to footage from the Wizard of Oz)

And finally...
* Chains of Love, performed live on the The Rosie O’Donnell Show (Couldn't resist including this one, as Rosie sings backup behind Andy Bell.)

* Official homepage
* Wikipedia: Main Article / Discography
* BBC Music
* MySpace
posted by zarq (53 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
Last but not least, many grateful thanks to Rory Marinich and Lyn Never for helping me find a couple of the harder-to-locate videos linked here online.
posted by zarq at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2011

So I take it you like the band zarq?
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

The Whelk: "So I take it you like the band zarq?"

Nah. What would give you that idea? ;)
posted by zarq at 8:50 AM on October 5, 2011

I understand the bit about the open homosexuality hurting sales early on, but it's not exactly like high school football players were going to be running through a big GO TEAM sign and out onto the field to this music anyway.
posted by resurrexit at 8:58 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

An abbreviated history of their work

That word...I do not think it means what you think it means.

Has anybody ever asked them about Robot Unicorn Attack?
posted by jedicus at 9:00 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Wow! This is a great post, even for someone only moderately interested in the band. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 9:03 AM on October 5, 2011

You did it!
posted by shakespeherian at 9:04 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

jedicus: " Has anybody ever asked them about Robot Unicorn Attack?"

Funny you should ask. I almost included this link in the post but thought it might be too much.

Erasure has played the game.
"The way I understand it, Erasure actually tried the game personally before giving the go ahead to use their song. I wish I could have seen their reaction the first time they played it. Considering the popularity it has brought back to their music (last I looked ‘Always’ was their most popular song on iTunes, and their #1 vid on YouTube), I think they’re glad they let us use it."
posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Nice post. When I went gay with my music in the 80s, I leaned towards The Communards.
posted by punkfloyd at 9:06 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

That word...I do not think it means what you think it means.

He did clarify below the fold. Give him a little respect, or he'll be forever blue.
posted by kmz at 9:06 AM on October 5, 2011 [9 favorites]

Wow, that's a hugely impressive post you've put together . Although I wasn't around in their heydey, I'm from Andy Bell's home town of Peterborough - and I've always had a great deal of affection for him as our most famous son.

Here's a great new interview with him from The Quietus, and here's a slightly older article where he talks about his 13 favourite records.
posted by Ted Maul at 9:06 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

epic post!! I'm seeing them here in London in a few weeks, hope they play my favorites!
posted by rollerball at 9:07 AM on October 5, 2011

oh yea speaking of heyday, Erasure in San Francisco (at the Fillmore) was my second concert ever in 1988 and I was 16! Needless to say, it was amazing.
posted by rollerball at 9:10 AM on October 5, 2011

Hey, we saw them last night, at the Fox in Oakland! Great show. Audience was full of gay men of a Certain Age (except for the slightly younger gay man in front of us, who'd brought his six-year-old (ish) daughter - adorable!). Andy looks and sounds fantastic.
posted by rtha at 9:13 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Your favorite band suuu... woah, wait.
Great Links.
(linked on the awesome Rosie video)
Videodrome Discothèque: Part, One (is missing, but here is synthBritannia), Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten
posted by infinite intimation at 9:15 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

infinite intimation: " Videodrome Discothèque: Part, One (is missing, but here is synthBritannia), Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten"

!!!! Awesome. Thanks!
posted by zarq at 9:16 AM on October 5, 2011

The Communards

Ooh, the Communards! I am more of an Associates type myself.

Owing to pre-Internet lack of musical information, I had no independent confirmation that Andy Bell was gay, but my gaydar was absolutely aces when I was trapped alone in the suburbs, and I knew.
posted by Frowner at 9:21 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man, this is just depressing me more about not getting tickets to their upcoming SF show.

Screw you, stupid jerk FPP!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:22 AM on October 5, 2011

AND I just learned that the show was last night.

I hate all of you.

rtha, tell me more about the show plz
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:24 AM on October 5, 2011


Man, I was straight, in my early teens and out in the sticks in the western edge of Europe, and Andy Bell was obviously as gay as a gay thing with an extra special reason to be gay.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:24 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Was there ABBA?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:24 AM on October 5, 2011

posted by mintcake! at 9:26 AM on October 5, 2011

Frowner: " Owing to pre-Internet lack of musical information, I had no independent confirmation that Andy Bell was gay, but my gaydar was absolutely aces when I was trapped alone in the suburbs, and I knew."

I saw them in the late 80's at Madison Square Garden. (I think for the Wild! tour in '89?) Andy was dressed for most of the show in the same style unitard he wears in some of the concert videos above.

About three quarters of the way through the concert, I suddenly realized that the trees that had been on stage since intermission were actually gigantic inflatable penises. I probably wouldn't have noticed, except a few of the on-stage dancers were humping them.
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Senor: Sold out at the Fox, yep. I am terrible at remembering after the fact what was played, but they played stuff from their new album and old stuff (I imagine that audiences would riot if they didn't play A Little Respect). Andy's voice is still fantastic, and now that's he's shaved his head and gotten so cut and no-body-fat-at-all he's even more GAY GAY GAY. We took BART home and the train was packed with happy mellow mostly gay fans coming from the show.
posted by rtha at 9:30 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

The fun part of Robot Unicorn Attack, aside from singing along, is getting on the upper tier of platforms. Oh sure your score suffers, but you're just gliding from platform to platform on a unicorn with rainbows shooting out of its ass! Open your eyes! Your eyes are open! When it's cooooold, outSIIIIIIDE! I thought for sure that song was not real. It's just so horribly awesome. I flashed back to every horribly bad piece of 80's media, Krull, Beastmaster and Simply Red montages just get spontaneously created in your head while playing Robot Unicorn Attack. It's just so much fun.
posted by cashman at 9:42 AM on October 5, 2011

I think Erasure are wonderful, but I have never been to one of their concerts. As a band who relies on synths a lot, and only having two main players, how well do they do live shows? Is a lot of it recorded, or do they routinely bring in extra players, or...?

Not that anyone could condone doing so, but is there a way to get only audio from those YouTube links? Which of course I would only enjoy in an uninfringing way.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:45 AM on October 5, 2011

I have a deep and abiding love of Erasure from my early adolescence. I find much of their stuff unbearably corny, but when they're on their game, I get goosebumps. A few of their tunes would have to be included in the mykescipark's life box set.
posted by mykescipark at 10:02 AM on October 5, 2011

Erasure will always be remembered by me for (the absurdly catchy) Oh L'Amour and for having hilarious fashion sense. I didn't even know Erasure (or at least, one half of Erasure) were homosexual until recently. Not that it even matters. Always confused them with Information Society. Never figured out why. They don't even sound alike. Go figure.
posted by Redfield at 10:06 AM on October 5, 2011

For a sad song (and sad video) "Fingers and Thumbs" still makes me twirl with happiness.
posted by Ratio at 10:07 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I’ve always thought I was a pretty big fan, but I’ve never even heard of "Always". Then again, I don’t know anything about Robot Blah Blah Blah.
posted by bongo_x at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2011

It's interesting to me that Erasure didn't read as gay to some people. The show last night was primarily gay men, mostly of the age that came out to Erasure playing at clubs. If you went to gay dance clubs in the late 80s and early 90s, you knew very well that Andy Bell was gay. Andy Bell, Jimmy Somerville, and a few others were the queer soundtrack to a lot of people coming out in those days. They have been active in supporting LGBT and HIV causes, such as Red Hot & Blue, and the Hetrick Martin benefit release of Respect, all along.

The show last night was great, not the least for some impressive bounding around the stage for someone who just had hip replacement surgery!
posted by gingerbeer at 10:25 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's weird for me to to hear the idea that Erasure *didn't* take off in the 80s. They were all over the airwaves where I grew up. The release of The Innocents was kindof a big deal among most of the music-enthusiastic people I knew at my high school. And this was in Utah.

B-side 91 Steps (passed along by a friend on cassette tape -- major releases were to be had at the alternative record stores, but singles and EPs were rare on the ground) was my first introduction to minimalist aesthetics and reinforced an interest in unusual time signatures. So, Erasure got to me before Glass and Reich did.
posted by weston at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2011

I'm not a fan of most synth bands live, but I always see Erasure when I can. They really put on a show. I just saw them in DC, on the second night of a two-gig appearance, and they were awesome. Either they're still having fun, or really good at faking it.
posted by JoanArkham at 10:37 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Andy Bell was the first celebrity* I remember knowing was gay and knowing that they talked about it, making it probably 1989 or so. And I remember fans of his music who were to become friends of mine talking about it like it was no big deal, which was also a first. There's no way for me to express how big a fucking deal that was for me at the time, even if I was so deeply in the closet that I didn't know it myself.

A few of my best friends, half-jokingly, half-seriously, have dreamed about writing a "Mamma Mia" style musical with Erasure songs -- inspired in no small part from a lot of the links in the post -- and I really wish they would really try to do it so I could stop thinking about it as the idea I should steal.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:47 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

* and by "first celebrity" I mean "first celebrity who I gave a damn about"
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2011

I still think of Erasure as "Andy Bell stealing Vince Clarke from Alison Moyet (Yazoo) and keeping her from being a superstar" even though that's not at all accurate or fair, and I occasionally imagine Alison's voice replacing Andy's on songs like "Who Needs Love Like That". That said, Erasure is still great, and after seeing the Abba-esque video for "Take a Chance on Me", I feel Vince has been punished enough.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:10 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Andy Bell was definitely a trailblazer. Bronski Beat and the Communards were go-to music for in-your-face homosex attitude, Frankie Goes to Hollywood was go-to music for the cheese/camp factor alone, Pet Shop Boys were sort of the Cole Porter-aspirants of the 1980s (think of Behaviour) -- not that I'm trying to put them at all on par with Cole Porter, but just sayin'. But Erasure at their prime were the purest distillation of pop gay kitsch there was. Damn, I'm gonna have to go listen to "Chains of Love" when I get home and let the frissons of 20ish-year-old gay-boy rhapsody hit me once again.
posted by blucevalo at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

My favorite thing about the Communards was Instant Club Hit.
posted by Hubajube at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2011

Wonderful post! Thanks.
posted by kryptondog at 12:23 PM on October 5, 2011

Funny. I've just been on an extended a Yaz(oo) kick. You all can have your Andy Bells and Jimmy Somervilles. I'll take Alf any day of the week, any week of the year.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:25 PM on October 5, 2011

If Andy Bell hadn't been open about his sexuality, I feel like, sooner or later, the fact that he wore tutus a lot would have at least caused people to wonder about it.

For whatever reason, Erasure was hugely popular with the LDS kids I grew up with (along with all the other Brit/synthpop stuff). In high school I often attended church sponsored dances as a guest, and the music was as good, if not better, than the local teen goth/alternative club. Plus I didn't have to explain why I came home smelling like clove cigarettes after a night at the Stake House. And I was totally allowed to go see Erasure on a school night with the much-older nice Mormon boy from down the street.
posted by padraigin at 12:25 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

As for Erasure, is that the SF Warfield at the 0:15 mark of the montage video?

And wow, yeah, that's not how I would have expected a new Erasure song to sound like. I guess I haven't paid attention in a while.

To be honest, Andy sounds a bit like Elton John here.

Oh yeah, the non-autotuned version sounds much better. I still don't like the song, but it definitely sounds better.

If Andy Bell hadn't been open about his sexuality, I feel like, sooner or later, the fact that he wore tutus a lot would have at least caused people to wonder about it.

I grew up in the suburbs of Louisville, KY. It was a given for everyone (who knew of Erasure) that Andy Bell was gay.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:29 PM on October 5, 2011

Dammit, these links have derailed my productivity for the evening. I loved Erasure in middle and high school, and it's awesome to see that they're still together making records (even if they're not as popular as they used to be.)
posted by Anima Mundi at 2:53 PM on October 5, 2011

zarq, I don't even have the words for how much I love this post. I think I'm going to have to send you a cheesecake a week for life.

I was lucky enough to see Erasure in New York, on the Nightbird tour in 2005. As fabulous as the show was, as much as I loved the new songs, and as happily as I sang along to the old ones, for me the high point of the show was their cover of Blondie's "Rapture," with Vince doing the "Fab 5 Freddy says everything's fly" solo through an amplified telephone. You could practically hear the crowd thinking, in unison, DUDE. VINCE CAN TALK.
posted by bakerina at 5:18 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hurray! Nice post, are you sure you haven't left anything out?

I once got in touch with my masculine side - he has a crush on Andy Bell.
*that line has been getting me blank looks since 1994*
posted by Catch at 5:18 PM on October 5, 2011

Damn. I haven't listened to 'A Little Respect' for at least a decade, and I still get the shivers. Thanks.
posted by Kinbote at 5:27 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Erasure's Beats Per Minute Tour... I saw that in Germany in 1986. Andy Bell came out in a red tutu. I was scandalized.

I saw Pet Shop Boys a couple of years ago in Seattle, and had the same experience with the audience there as was described with a recent Erasure audience -- primarily gay men who would have been listening to the music when they first came out.

I respect Erasure a lot more than I like them, although when they're on they're REALLY on. I would have seen them on this tour if I hadn't shot my 80s concert wad with a Duran Duran concert a couple of weeks ago.

This post... is amazing. A++ Would favorite again.
posted by hippybear at 5:42 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Than you, zarq! Now, that's what I call music!
posted by Mael Oui at 7:48 PM on October 5, 2011

You know, I'm mostly an indie rock dude, I post on all the R.E.M. and Pavement threads, etc. etc., but I'm not gonna lie, there is no song in the history of music that gives me chills as reliably as the miraculous "Chains of Love."
posted by escabeche at 9:07 PM on October 5, 2011

My favorite band ever! I heard them first in high school in the early 90's not realizing Andy Bell was gay. I had quite a shock during my first concert when I was completely surrounded by mostly gay men and Andy Bell cross-dressed. Totally blew my mind. My sister and I finally met him at a gay bar in the Village. It was my celebrity moment!!!!
posted by ichimunki at 9:14 PM on October 5, 2011

It's interesting to me that Erasure didn't read as gay to some people.

It's absolutely mind-boggling, speaking as someone who was 8 or 9 when he first saw Erasure on Top of the Pops.

Presumably these are the people of legend who thought Marilyn was a girl and Boy George really did 'prefer a nice cup of tea'.
posted by jack_mo at 4:40 AM on October 6, 2011

Saw them in nyc a couple weeks ago and they were amazing. AMAZING. I was so worried they would seem tired or jaded or something, but no. Seriously one of the best concerts I've seen in a long time. Perfect mix of old stuff and new, and the crowd was happy and Andy and Vince seemed happy....Oh I love them. Thanks for the great post.
posted by silverstatue at 6:23 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

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