Always – The Very Best Of Erasure
Despite having always been signed to Mute Records, Erasure's back catalogue has changed hands various times over the years. Back in 2003 it was EMI who spearheaded the release of Hits - The Very Best Of Erasure, a feat they repeated in 2012 with the ill-conceived Essential compilation. Fast-forward to 2015 and it's BMG's turn to produced an Erasure 'best of' album in the form of Always – The Very Best Of Erasure, released to co-inside with the 30th anniversary of the band's first ever single. The regular edition of this album is compromised of 20 tracks spanning the band's three decades together and all the big hitters like Sometimes, Victim Of Love, Chains Of Love, A Little Respect, Stop!, Chorus, Take A Chance On Me and Always are present and correct. As always, Erasure's post 1994 output is scarcely represented and whilst this period in the band's history isn't completely overlooked, singles from a few albums such as Cowboy, Loveboat, and Light At The End Of The World are completed excluded. Oddly, as with Total Pop!/Pop2!, Breathe is the album mix whilst all the other tracks are the single mixes. One or two of the songs from the 2010s are potentially dubious choices – I suspect some fans would argue that Be With You and Elevation aren't the strongest singles from their respective albums. The album concludes with Sometimes 2015 which is a fairly pointless reworking on the song which the average listener will barely be able to distinguish from the original version but at least its addition means the tracks do at least span a full thirty years.
There is little need for this if you already own other compilations and the refusal to substantially update the tracklisting with more recent songs means there is little to distinguish Always – The Very Best Of Erasure apart from the likes of Hits! or Total Pop!.
A three CD edition of the album includes two bonus discs made up of remixes from the 1980s up to the present day. To ensure there's something new, four of the remixes have not been previously released (although in the case of the Grumbling Fur Eternal Eraser Mix of The Circus, it should have remained that way). Remixes often polarise opinion and for the most part these remixes are fairly mediocre but there are a few gems to be found such as You Surround Me – Mark Saunders Mix, Am I Right? – Grid Remix and Blue Savannah – Der Deutsche Mix II whilst the new Breathe mix by GRN is the best of the new remixes. The cynic in me feels the new remixes have only been added to encourage fans who are suffering from best of compilation fatigue to purchase Always – The Very Best Of Erasure. It's just a shame they aren't really strong enough for me to recommended buying the whole album for, but I guess in this day and age you can just download the individual tracks anyway.
There's no doubting that this compilation is full of great songs, and the occasional great remix on the 3CD version, but the problem is there are already plenty of Erasure compilations and the best still remains Total Pop! (which Mute, rather than a big record label put together). There is little need for this if you already own other compilations and the refusal to substantially update the tracklisting with more recent songs means there is little to distinguish Always – The Very Best Of Erasure apart from the likes of Hits! or Total Pop!. Naturally, this release isn't aimed at casual buyers over die-hard fans and there's no reason to suggest these people would be dissatisfied with their purchase. The thing is, I'd still recommend Total Pop! over this so in some regards Always – The Very Best Of Erasure is superfluous. It's a release dictated by BMG rather than Mute or the band, and sadly that shows.
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