The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages

Reviewed by Kate X Messer, April 24, 2009, Music


Total Pop! Deluxe Box – The First 40 Hits (Mute/Sire/Rhino)

To most club queers, Erasure is sacrosanct: the high holy of poignant meets pop, electro meets opera, a natural bridge between ABBA and Magnetic Fields. The London duo is worthy of all the remix collections, if only for the house parties they inspire. The 3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Box has charms beyond completeness and nelly shindigs, though. Bad news first: The liner notes suck. While Stephen Dalton's chronology is peppy and competent, a good Googling renders it pointless. Insult festers into injury with fan clubber Greg Hudson's equally WTF? interview. For an act as cheeky, flamboyant, and gay-embracing as Erasure ("Chains of Love" is the queer national anthem, trumping "We Are Family" on intent alone), the write-ups are shockingly dull and, no offense, "straight." Good news: The design continuity (à la 1992's Pop!) is lovely, from Xeroxed flyers to Pierre et Gilles. Portraits of stark poise vs. lush pageantry parallel Vince Clarke and Andy Bell's inherent Taijitu: the stern, intellectual keyboardist and the prancing cabaret queen. The first two discs come as advertised with remixes acting as pure candy – uplifting, a call-up of Pride Parade-ready march formations. Disc three, live tour highlights, falls in with just such a gathering. The cherry on top? Erasure's two decades on the BBC, the set's DVD providing a fascinating study of queer politics in the public eye. Really, just watch Bell's couture evolve from guarded Tintin trousers to turquoise sequined cowboy chaps with cheek to spare.


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