ERASURE IN THE 80S

By Mark Nobes, chief editor

Firstly, the video playlist (above) features a playlist of 38 official Erasure videos from the 1980s, so please enjoy!

The 1980s featured no shortage of synthpop duos, and it's amazing to think that plenty of them are still performing in 2022. One such duo is Erasure, who have, so far, achieved success with twenty nine top 20 hits in the UK, with seventeen of these reaching the top 10. 

From 1988 to 1994, all four of their studio albums reached No.1 in the UK. The pair have released nineteen studio albums so far, with their latest Day-Glo (Based On A True Story), reaching #29. This was released on Aug 12th 2022.

Erasure's most successful period was between 1987 and 1995, with virtually all of their single releases breaking into the UK and Irish Top 20. 

As with the majority of 80s artists, Andy Bell and Vince Clarke's musical career got off to a slow start. After forming in 1985, the duo released their debut single in September of that year "Who Needs Love Like That", and it reached #55 in the UK on its initial release.

Featuring on the flop debut album Wonderland, the follow-up single "Heavenly Action" was even more of a disaster, reaching only #100 in the UK singles chart, and the third single "Oh L'amour" (which, ironically became a big hit for Dollar) barely made a dent in the charts, peaking at #85 on its initial release.

However, the breakthrough Erasure deserved came in 1986, with the release of "Sometimes". This became an International hit, reaching #1 in South Africa and #2 in the UK. The song featured on the second hit album The Circus (released in March 1987) and the 80s synth-pop duo went on to achieve twenty-four consecutive Top 20 hits in the UK between 1986 and 1997.

Vince Clarke and Andy Bell on the front cover of Record Mirror March 1987

Vince Clarke and Andy Bell on the front cover of Record Mirror in March 1987

Singles (1985 to 1990)

1985 Who Needs Love Like That #55

1985 Heavenly Action #100

1986 Oh L'Amour #85

1986 Sometimes #2

1987 It Doesn't Have to Be #12

1987 Victim of Love #7

1987 The Circus #6

1988 Ship of Fools #6

1988 Chains of Love #11

1988 A Little Respect #4

1988 Stop! #2

1989 Drama! #4

1989 Your Surround Me #15

1990 Blue Savannah #3

1990 Star #11

Chart positions are shown for the UK Singles Chart.

Wonderland (1986 Album)

Released on 2nd June 1986, Erasure's debut album would only reach #71 here in the UK, it did perform better in Sweden (#13) and Germany (#20), where the boys built-up quite a fan base during the 1980s.
Although unsuccessful with their initial releases, two of the singles from the album later became hits. A remix of "Who Needs Love (Like That)" reached #10 in 1992 and was included on the compilation album Pop! The First 20 Hits. A remix of "Oh L'Amour" reached #13 in 2003, and was included on the album The Very Best of Erasure.
The Circus vinyl LP sleeve front with red, blue, green and yellow colouring

THE CIRCUS (1987 Album)

Clarke and Bell's second studio album was released on 30th March 1987, and as with their debut Wonderland, it was produced by Flood (Mark Ellis). However, unlike the previous album, this one was a commercial success, reaching #6 on the UK albums chart. All four singles released from the album were successful, too, which were "Sometimes" (#2), "It Doesn't Have To Be" (#12), "Victim Of Love" (#7), The Circus (#6).
The album was popular in Switzerland, reaching #9 here, and also in Sweden, where it reached #12, and Germany, reaching #16.

Released in September 1987, the title track from the album was the fourth and last single, and reached #6 in the British charts. The moody, downtempo song was a welcome break from the previous six synth pop singles by Erasure, and was a shortened and remixed version of the album track. I particularly like the accordian in this song, which relates to the big top theme.

The Innocents vinyl LP sleeve front

The Two Ring Circus (1987 REmix Album)

Only devoted Erasure fans will know about this remix album, which was released as a companion to The Circus. It was released as a double 12" vinyl album, cassette and CD. The album only charted in the U.S., peaking at #186. However, the album was far from a flop, and chart rules in the UK meant it was ineligible to chart.
Six brand new remixes and three re-recorded tracks featured on the album. Seven bonus tracks were included on the CD and cassette albums, which were all recorded live in Hamburg, and were listed under "The Touring Circus".
The Two Ring Circus CD Album Erasure

The Innocents (1988 Album)

Released on 18th April 1988, Erasure's third studio album, The Innocents, topped the UK album charts, achieving 2x Platinum. An Anniversary edition was released in October 2009. This was the first of four consecutive number one studio albums in the UK.
Three singles were released from the album which all became major hits. These were "Ship of Fools", which reached #6 in the UK, "Chains of Love (#11) and "A Little Respect" (#4). 
The album was well-received by most major critics of the time, and received praise and positive ratings from Smash Hits, Record Mirror and Number One magazine.
As with The Circus, the album sold well in Sweden (#13), Switzerland (#15) and Germany (#8). 
The Innocents was the only Erasure album to be produced by Stephen Hague, who worked for many top 80s synthpop artists, including OMD, Pet Shop Boys, New Order and Holly Johnson.
Crackers International EP 12

Crackers International EP

This EP was released a couple of months after "Victim Of Love", reaching #2 in the UK and Ireland, and topping the Tracklisten chart in Denmark.

Track Listings (UK)

7 inch vinyl

A1. "Stop" (fade ending) - 2:55

A2. "The Hardest Part" - 3:40

B1. "Knocking On Your Door" - 2:57

B2. "She Won't Be Home" - 3:28

A 2-track 7 inch for jukeboxes was also released which included "Stop" and "Knocking On Your Door".

12 Inch Vinyl

A1. "Stop" (cold ending) - 3:03

A2. "The Hardest Part" (12 inch version)- 5:07

B1. "Knocking On Your Door" (12 inch version) - 3:59

B2. "She Won't Be Home" - 3:28

A CD single was also released which included the same tracks as the vinyl 12 inch.

Crackers International Part II (Limited Edition) 12 Inch

A1. "Stop" (Mark Saunders Remix) - 5:47

B1. "Knocking On Your Door" (Mark Saunders remix) - 6:07

B2. "God rest Ye Merry Gentleman" - 3:12

A 3 inch mini CD was also released with the same songs, but containing the shorter 7 inch vinyl versions of "Stop" and "Knocking On Your Door". 

Wild! (1989 ALbum)

Like the previous album, Erasure's fourth studio album topped the UK album charts, achieving 2 x Platinum. Released on 16th October 1989, the album spawned four hits singles; "Drama!", "You Surround Me", "Blue Savannah" and "Star".

Many thought that Bell and Clarke had reached their peak with The Innocents, and that they couldn't possibly release an even better album. However, Wild! was a masterpiece, featuring a diverse array of very memorable tunes. Despite, mixed reviews by critics at the time, many have since realised that this is possibly the boys' finest work. If you only ever buy one Erasure album, then "Wild!" would definitely be a wise choice.

Erasure Wild! vinyl LP

BLUE SAVANNAH (1990 SIngle)

Released on February 26th 1990, and lifted from Erasure's fourth album, Wild!, this single went on to reach #3 in the UK. The legendary Shep Pettibone produced a popular Out Of The Blue Mix. When I say popular, it was played a lot in the clubs but was never actually officially released. Promo versions on both 12 inch and CD are very rare and valuable. 

Star (1990 Single)

The third and final single from the album Wild! reached #11 in the UK. The lyrics seem to refer to the Star Wars project (set-up by Ronald Reagan), and this catchy tune cleverly combines dance music with acoustic guitar.  It's a pretty depressing subject matter being sung in a what feels like a joyful, upbeat tune - now that's pretty unique! "The city looks pretty in pink - Armageddon is here!"

Studio Album Discography

1986 Wonderland #71

1987 The Circus #6 (Platinum)

1988 The Innocents #1 (2x Platinum)

1989 Wild! #1 (2x Platinum)

1991 Chorus #1 (Platinum)

1994 I Say I Say I Say #1 (Gold)

1995 Erasure #14

1997 Cowboy #10

2000 Loveboat #45

2003 Other People's Songs #17

2006 Union Street #102

2011 Tomorrow's World #29

2013 Snow Globe #49

2014 The Violet Flame #20

2017 World Be Gone #6

2020 The Neon #4

2022 Day-Glo (Based on a True Story) #29