It is hard to find a less inspiring word in the musical lexicon than"cover". Thanks largely to the conveyor belt of Pop Idol muppets yelping yet another version of Unchained melody, the cover version - once a respected art - has been made to feel like the last refuge of the bankrupt. Even "respected" artists such as George Michael and Robbie Williams (remember his swing album?. Thought not) have soured the art.
"No, to me, that's a good reason to do it," says Andy Bell, the singing Erasure. "I was getting sick of cover versions as well, especially when another version of Unchained Melody came out, but it was frustrating because I was like, 'Oh, I can do that much better'. What we've done, it's much more a thing about caring for the music and caring for the songs and the people who made them. Those other people, their versions are quite karaoke versions and that's something in itself, but it's not what we've done."
Isn't the whole idea of doing cover versions...
"Arrogant?" says Vince Clarke, the playing Erasure. (I was thinking"egotistical", but "arrogant" will do).
"I don't think so. There are songs we did that we discarded because we didn't think we were doing anything for them. We weren't sounding better or more interesting, so I don't think we approached it thinking we could do a better version." "A good version," says Andy. "An interesting version," offers Vince.
But they're bound to be compared aren't they?
"Well, only by journalists, actually. I don't think punters do. You know that David Bowie covers album?. When that came out I didn't know they were covers. I thought they were all David Bowie songs."
Maybe, but while no one is going to be thinknig that You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling is a new Erasure composition, it does sound just like Erasure. When I said that, did you think "Fair enough", or did it make you bristle?
"We don't really mean to sound like Erasure - we can't help it. People say they hear the first four bars of a record and say it's Erasure and I just think, 'How can you say that?'. It's not like you do the same things every time you make a record," says Vince.
Andy looks puzzled. "I think it's fair. When I hear us on the radio, I think, 'Well, how many other people sound like that?' The only people I can think of is... Wizzard."
By Jeremy Novick
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