Pop2! – The Second 20 Hits

Onge's Review

Pop2! The Second 20 Hits is basically the second CD from the far superior Total Pop! release, which came only a couple of months before this compilation hit the shops. Targeted at those who own the original Pop! release from 1992, it covers the singles released by the band from 1994-2009. There is no doubt Pop2! is home to some great Erasure songs, such as I Love Saturday, Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer's Day), Rock Me Gently, In My Arms, Breathe, the top 10 cover of Solsbury Hill as well as the timeless and sublime Always. Indeed the album concludes with the 2009 Mix of Always, which to the untrained ear is barely different from the original version.

Always and Run To The Sun, their last bona fide chart hits, were surefooted day-glo pop anthems which fitted seamlessly into the canon, but from here on in there’s the distinct impression of water being trod. Singles such as Stay With Me and Rock Me Gently remain serviceable enough ballads, but lack the pizzazz and charm of earlier releases.

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This compilation however does miss out some songs that were singles or part of double a-side releases meaning as a discography it is not quiet as well constructed or comprehensive as the original Pop!. Mute also made some poor choices when it came to choosing singles during this period of the band's history with weak remixes of Rain and Moon & The Sky seeing the light of day (albeit as chart ineligible singles), neither of which do any justice to the original album versions. In terms of sound quality, and as with Total Pop!, all tracks have been digitally remastered, although you'd be hard pressed to notice any real difference on the latter tracks.

Summary

Pop2! is a slightly inconsistent but generally strong collection of tracks and is of course a perfect companion to the original Pop! release. Largely the single mixes from the Erasure, Nightbird and Light At The End Of The World albums are slightly inferior to their album versions, but if you are a completest or are not familiar with their album counterparts, this release still comes highly recommended.

Fan Reviews

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  1. I believe “Pop2!” is being issued by MUTE specially to let those fans (and maybe ex-fans) who simply stopped buying Erasure’s records after the release of the first “Pop!” on 1992 know a small part of their last 6 albums through their respective singles. Ok, “I Say I Say I Say”, the first one released after “Pop!”, wasn’t a commercial flop at all and many fans own and love this one, but I think it marked the beginning of the fall in sales of their records, specially if you take into account that one only big hit single was taken from it, which is the truly wonderful “Always”, unlike “The Circus”, “The Innocents”, “Wild!” and “Chorus”, which had each one at least 2 big hits on UK Charts. The irresistible “Run To The Sun”, which was also a single taken from “I Say (x3)”, probably is my fave song from “Pop2!”, but it never could get the success that it certainly deserved.

    Regarding “Erasure”, “Cowboy”, “Loveboat”, “Other People’s Songs”, “Nightbird” and “Light At The End Of The World”, none of them had a big hit. The bittersweet “Breathe” is the only song by them that reached a relative success in the 00’s while their brilliant cover to “Solsbury Hill” could stay in the Top 10 for one only week.

    So Erasure have quite unfairly lived in a kind of semi-ostracism after 1994, despite they still own an omnipresent, loyal and big fan base, and I never understood very well why this happened to them, since I sincerely think the second part of their career properly represented here is musically so perfect as the first one (from 1985 to 1992), as you can easily prove by listening to this compilation. After all what could be wrong with gems like “Fingers & Thumbs”, “Don’t Say You Love Me”, “I Love Saturday”, “Sunday Girl” or the fantastic cover that they made to the classic “Make Me Smile”? And what about the stunning ballads “Stay With Me”, “In My Arms” and “Storm In A Teacup”? Simple praises cannot describe the beautiness of these 3 ones indeed. Even the not-so-strong singles from this age, which are in my opinion “Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me”, “Freedom” and “Here I Go Impossible Again”, are pop songs above the average and certainly deserve to be appreciated, despite the fact that their respective albums surely owned better songs to be released as singles, such as “Save Me Darling” or “How Can I Say” from “Cowboy”, “Catch 22” or “Alien” from Loveboat and “Sweet Surrender” or “I Bet You’re Mad At Me” from Nightbird.

    Three excellent songs were included in well remixed versions, “Rain”, “Moon & The Sky” and “I Could Fall In Love With You”. I particularly love these versions made specially for the single releases, even though I do prefer the original ones. It’s noteworthy that the lyrics to “Rain” & “Moon & The Sky” were slightly modified too. In addition, the single version to “Rock Me Gently” doesn’t own the whole part played by Diamanda Galas in the self-titled album and, for being quite frank, I prefer this way. Not to mention that “Stay With Me” and “Fingers & Thumbs” – the other 2 singles taken from the self-titled – appear here in edited versions too, which don’t ruin them at all. Nevertheless, it must be said that the original ones are superior.

    Enjoy it without guilt ‘cos Erasure have never left to be the best thing that British Pop ever produced! And thank God significant fall in sales has never made them give up their career on Erasure. They have always returned with the wind to bring their magically perfect pop, just like an obstinate Mary Poppins, no matter how hostile these last fifteen years have been to them. Someone could say that Clarke & Bell are two senseless “storm chasers” because of this insistence on releasing good or even excellent albums without getting the proper repercussion, but the real senseless ones are those folks who think they have stopped recording music able to make somebody’s day shine, ‘cos no adversity could erase the brightness of these two stars. This new singles collection is the definitive proof of this!

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Psychic Celebration, Brazil
    20 July 2009 9:09 am (GMT)

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