In 2006, Erasure decided to unearth some more of their hidden delicacies with Hidden Treasure II, a second collection of demos and oddities from their past. We looked at the first volume a while back, and this one is a little more straightforward – and less interesting.
The first two tracks are Andy Bell‘s original auditions to become part of Erasure way back in 1985. His skills as a vocalist are unquestionable – he’s pretty much pitch-perfect all the way through Who Needs Love (Like That). So much so, in fact, that the novelty of the track lies more in its corny demo qualities. Vince Clarke clearly had a lot of work left to do on this – it sounds like a weird halfway house between Yazoo and Erasure.
One Day was a one-off single in 1985 for Vince Clarke and Paul Quinn as a follow-up to the success of The Assembly, but entirely failed to chart. It’s not a great song anyway, but Andy does a reasonable job, despite getting his cue wrong at one point.
Twilight is, by the sounds of things, an early version of 1994 b-side Ghost, and is nowhere near as good. The final track was atmospheric, moody, and beautiful, while this is just another of Erasure‘s corny tracks. Tune 5 is a Chorus dropout, with hints of Turns the Love to Anger, but again, nothing particular going for it. And Siren Song was, as you may remember, one of the stronger tracks on Chorus, but seemingly only after having had its initial lyrics ditched. Clearly lyric writing is an iterative process for Erasure.
The demo of I Love Saturday is almost more interesting than the finished track – it may be a little empty, but it also channels Breath of Life somewhat with its production, making it quite a fun listen. An early version of Miracle follows, pleasant but less exciting, and definitely less overblown without Martyn Ware‘s involvement as producer. All Through the Years, one of the best tracks on I Say I Say I Say, gains a haunting feel in its demo form, which again is definitely no worse than the completed track – it’s possibly even better.
But in general, it would be tempting just to say, “not as good as the finished version,” for most of these. The early lyric of Reach Out is unpromising, and the demos of tracks from Loveboat are every bit as unexciting as you might expect. “Got the window wipers on / They hypnotise,” is not exactly an example of the finest lyric writing ever. The unfinished tracks My Love and Earth are unremarkable. The latter, an instrumental, is marginally better, but you can see why they might not have ever been completed.
Buried Treasure II has relatively few highlights, and so it’s difficult to recommend it to anyone except absolute completists in need of a new Erasure fix. Which is definitely a shame, given how good the first volume was, but life is full of its little disappointments!