Back in the late ’80s, early 90’s Erasure were riding high as synth-pop royalty having released consecutive albums from 1986 through to 1989 and embarking on a mammoth World tour supporting their Wild album. They returned after a well deserved but short break in 1991 with the electro classic that is Chorus.
A step-change in how the band usually worked due to Vince Clarke noticing timing issues with the then-popular MIDI standard saw Clarke revert back to using analogue only synths and monophony in the production of Chorus and it told in the style and crispness that gave the album its unique simplistic but to this day futuristic sound. The album was produced by Martyn Phillips and mixed by Dave Bascombe and became Erasures 5th LP and their 3rd successive Number 1 album at the time and saw it shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize the following year.
Chorus spawned three top 5 hits with the title track ‘Chorus’, the Gloria Gaynor inspired ‘Love to Hate You’ and ‘Breath of Life’ and with ‘Am I Right’ the bands 15th consecutive top 20 hit. Friday, February 14th 2020 sees this little gem reissued 29 years later comprising of a 3 x CD Deluxe Hardback book album with CD1 featuring the Remastered Chorus album, CD2 featuring B-sides, Remixes (4 of which are new) and Rarities along with a third CD featuring the entire album recorded live from the 1992 Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour at the Manchester Apollo. All this is packaged in a Hardback book style format similar to The Innocents re-release back in 2009 and last years Wild reissue that features exclusive new sleeve notes by Mat Smith which include interviews from Vince Clarke, Andy Bell and Daniel Miller that describe the writing and recording process at the time.
Disc 1 sees the original 1991 Chorus album audio remastered while Disc 2 features a number of B sides from the time namely ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘La La La’ from the ‘Chorus’ and ‘Love to Hate You’ singles respectively and ‘Let it Flow’ and the thumping ‘Waiting for Sex’ lifted from the ‘Am I Right’ EP. More interesting are the rarities such as the ‘Perfect Stranger’ KROQ sessions that appeared on the relatively rare Erasure KROQ sessions promo cassette along with the ‘Love to Hate You’ (KROQ Blunder version) and ‘Mirror to Your Soul’ that was on a previously bootleg circulated ‘Chorus’ Demo tape but ended up being released on the Buried Treasure II Erasure Information Service exclusive CD from 2006.
The Demo tape in question also featured the Buried Treasure II version of ‘Siren Song’ with the alternative lyrics which appears here but the other unreleased track from the time period ‘Twilight’ only featured on the Buried Treasure II CD. Of the remixes included the stand out performer of the new additions is the Glen Nicholls Extended mix of ‘Am I Right’. This is a good old fashioned 12” extended mix using the original stems and highlighting the intricate workings that go into making a song and not just layering vocals over an in the moment dance beat.
Unfortunately, the Robbie Rivera remix of ‘Love to Hate You’ does just that and makes for quite a forgettable experience. As for the other remixes, some previously released and some as promo features serve to fill up disc 2 nicely with a whopping 17 tracks. Disc 3 is the entire Chorus tracklist performed live from Manchester during 1992’s Phantasmagorical Entertainment tour. Fully reprogrammed into Vince Clarkes ‘Synth-Tank’ (a mini digger fitted out with loads of Analogue Synths), these live tracks don’t detract from the original album versions and the sense of enjoyment that was experienced by all the concert-goers during that tour is fully reflected on this disc as is the fantastic performance from that era. Highlights from the live performance include the ultra high energy of the title track, the melancholic ‘Am I Right’ and the stripped-down ‘Perfect Stranger’.
This is a nice little package for the casual fan and the enthusiast alike and slots in well with the design of the previous two remasters and as its from a time where Erasure could do no wrong its a welcome reminder to Chorus’s brilliance.