Erasure 1989

REVIEW: ‘Wild!’ – Erasure

Thirty years ago: a retrospective review of Erasure’s 1989 album “Wild!”

by Christopher Smith

Erasure Wild

By 1989, Andy Bell and Vince Clark had joined The Pet Shop Boys as Britain’s most successful electronic-pop music act with three hugely successful albums behind them including their 1988 chart topper “The Innocents” and its three globally successful singles. Their Christmas 1988 EP “Crackers International” had spent four weeks at No.2 on the UK singles chart, crowning the end of their best year yet. Erasure went straight into the studio soon after to write and record their fourth long player, which was likely to see the light of day before the decade was out. This time the pair joined forces with producers Gareth Jones, who had worked on many of Depeche Mode’s earlier albums, the group Clark had founded at the end of the 1970’s, and Mark Saunders, who had produced David Bowie’s “Dancing In The Street” and “Absolute Beginners”.

By the Autumn of 1989, the album was ready. And this is how it turned out…

1. Piano Song (instrumental)

The album begins with, well as it suggests, a piano instrumental, backed with a synthesiser symphonia that is an elegant curiosity and fades away no sooner as it has arrived.

2. Blue Savannah

Album number four proper begins here and in fine style. “Blue Savannah” song is joyous Erasure at its very best. Although the song never really takes off till the middle-eight, Andy’s vocals across the first verses and chorus are both haunting and sensual in equal measure. The song is also memorable for the accompanying video, with the boys splashed with blue paint against a white background as a mysterious blue hand brushes anything and everything in site! Thankfully, “Blue Savannah” was released as a single, the third from the album in March 1990 and it became one of their biggest hits of all, peaking at No.3 in the UK as well as charting in Germany, Ireland and Canada. The song has gone on to become a staple of Erasure’s live shows and a firm fan favourite that is always well received.

3. Drama

“Drama” was the lead single from this album and thus, the showcase track with which to reel everyone in. With a clang of a bell, we are summoned back into the church of Erasure and treated to a quintessential piece of late 80’s electro-pop perfection that builds and builds to its exciting climax. Scottish rock group The Jesus and Mary Chain were recording their album “Automatic” in the next studio as Vince and Andy were laying down this track and were roped in to perform each “guilty” as heard over the final choruses when Bell sings the line “we are guilty and how we ever entered into this life”. Released in September 1989, “Drama” gave the duo their third consecutive UK top five hit in twelve months when it made No.4 at the beginning of October. Additionally, the song made No.12 in Germany, No.5 in Ireland and No.10 on the US dance chart.

4. How Many Times?

“How Many Times?” is like playing on the keyboards at school! Pressing all the different buttons and seeing what the ‘pop’ one sounds like! The song is more down-tempo that the previous two tracks, with Andy demonstrating the lower depths of his vocal range. Beautiful nonetheless.

5. Star

“Star” returns us to more lively, energetic Erasure as the chorus comes in first then the song gathers pace with each successive verse and chorus. “From Moscow to Mars”, that’s where the stars go showering down between. Apparently! It was actually written as a protest song by Andy and Vince, referencing nuclear war. The song was given a slight overhaul with more bass and beat when it was released as the fourth and final single from the album in June 1990, reaching No.11 in the UK and Ireland, and No.4 on the US dance chart and dance music sales chart.

6. La Gloria

There’s more than a touch of Mexican/South American influence in “La Gloria”, which will give even Gloria Estefan a run for her money! It’s fast paced with lots of “la la la” and “arriva arriva”s thrown in every so often. You can just imagine if they had made a video for this track, Andy in a huipil with maracas, ‘gliding’ across the set and clearly relishing every moment of it!

7. You Surround Me

Time to be serious now. “You Surround Me” is a brooding number with Vince turning on the synths at maximum level while Andy remains in subdued restraint for the most part. Clarke has said that this was his attempt at writing a James Bond theme! With Gladys Knight performing the 007 song that year (“Licence To Kill“), we can only imagine that this is what was envisaged for the 1990’s. It kinda happened with the Garbage song in 1999, but how different, had there of been a Bond film in the early 90’s, as was planned, with Erasure doing the main title theme… “You Surround Me” was released as the second single in December 1989 and charted at No.14 in the UK, yo-yoing up and down over the Christmas and new year period, as often happened with singles at that time. Strangely, it wasn’t released in the US and so only charted in Germany and Ireland outside their home country.

8. Brother And Sister

More dark synth, electro-heaven next with “Brother And Sister”, following neatly on from “You Surround Me”, a song about family and family differences. Bell references “Brother and sister and father of mine, keep us together and keep us in line”, while love is sent to “Mother”, separately. Revealing.

9. 2,000 Miles

“2000 Miles” is another song that tells of heartache and wanting to be as far from someone as possible. Andy repeatedly sings “I want to be at least 2000 miles away from you”, informing whoever has been ‘unfaithful’ in no uncertain terms, how he feels. This has a great rhythm and worthy of potential single release.

10. Crown Of Thorns

More torrid, dark synth-pop now, very reminiscent of “Ship Of Fools”, it could almost be part two of that song and, justifiably, that makes it a contender for possible single release, especially as “Ship” proved so successful and eternal. The song comes to a dramatic and lengthy end as it fades away with Bell’s haunting “oooh oooh oooh” over a pulsing synth drum beat.

11. Piano Song

We entered this album with “Piano Song” intrumental, so now here is “Piano Song” itself. A piano ballad, one of just a few songs of this style that the pair have ever written or recorded, but nevertheless, beautiful and reverential, and, after all that Erasure standard tunes, very welcome indeed.

 

By 1989, Erasure had built a loyal following with three multi-Platinum selling albums and hits all around the world, so all eyes were on how album number four was going to play. “Wild!” was the title chosen, perfectly and accurately summing up this new collection of superb, classic Erasure songs (“Blue Savannah” and “Crown Of Thorns”) with outrageous and joyous new numbers (“La Gloria” and “Star”). “Wild!” was released in mid-October, four weeks after the lead single “Drama” and immediately became a massive hit, topping the UK album chart (their second to do so). The album carries a triple Platinum certification for sales of more than 900,000 copies and, to date, remains their biggest selling studio album in their home territory.

Overseas, “Wild!” continued their run of successful releases in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland and peaked at No.57 in America, just a few places lower than “The Innocents” a year and a half earlier. The album has sold over 400,000 copies there. Erasure promoted the album with a series of sellout concerts, over one hundred in fact across Europe and the US, culminating with their biggest show ever in Milton Keynes, England, where they played to an audience of 60,000. “Wild!”, along with all of Erasure’s back catalogue, was acquired by BMG in 2016 and early in 2019, a new 30th anniversary edition of the album was released containing B sides, live tracks and remixes, bringing the “Wild!” era together, nicely in one fan filled package to be treasured and remembered as the time when Andy and Vince really were at the very top of their game and ruled the charts.

Stay in touch with Erasure through their WEBSITE and their FACEBOOK page

If you enjoy what you read on this site – feel free to donate and show your support…click to donate any amount you like, every little helps – and don’t forget to download the App!

Looking for the perfect gift for a music lover like you – check out My First Record for a poptastic present!

Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!
%d bloggers like this: