This week two decades ago saw the release of one of Erasure‘s last successful singles, I Love Saturday. It’s an interesting novelty, having been released on an enormous number of formats (I’ve got three CDs, a cassette, and a very scratched jukebox 7″, and there’s a 12″ too), and so includes more than enough tracks for it to be worth reviewing.
The lead track is one of the less interesting moments on the not-entirely-interesting 1994 album I Say I Say I Say, and the first CD brings dull remixes from JX and the disappointingly off-form Beatmasters, plus a new instrumental b-side Dodo, on which Vince Clarke gets to flex his long-neglected Irish muscles. Erasure b-sides are always a mixed bag, and this is far from one of their best examples.
Disc two includes the best of the remixes, Andy Bell‘s own Flower mix, in collaboration with Neil McLellan and Gareth Jones, which downplays the original song to the point where it barely appears, and replaces it with a bouncy synth part and some backing vocal wailing. In addition, there’s another Beatmasters attempt, the less exciting 303 mix and a dreadful dub version of Always by DJ Professor.
It’s the third disc, though, the EP, where things get really interesting. After the lead track comes the lovely Ghost, which is haunting, dark, and actually considerably better than many of the songs which made it onto the album six months earlier. It’s also six minutes long, and half way through it goes instrumental in a way they would explore on the brilliant subsequent album Erasure a year or so later, so maybe it was a hint of things to come.
Next is Truly, Madly, Deeply, another great song, much darker than anything else they were doing at the time, and again rather better than a lot of what they had recently released too. It’s beautiful, but with an air of mystery and darkness which they hadn’t really explored before.
The Live Vocal version of Always b-side Tragic is a pleasant inclusion, and although it is a worthwhile reminder that Erasure‘s lyric writing isn’t always the most profound on the planet, it is definitely nice to hear, and it’s good to have another version of this song. And if it was actually performed live, as the version name implies, then Andy Bell does deserve a lot of respect as a vocalist. It closes the EP in appropriately pleasant form.
If you took the trouble to track down the cassette (or US CD) version of the single, you’ll have also got the acoustic (well, acoustic-ish) version of Because You’re So Sweet, which for me is the best recording of what should have been a very nice song, but was a little overblown on the album. Originally performed as part of the Unpeeled sessions during the summer for the Andrew Collins and Stuart Maconie radio show alongside a version of Heart of Glass, it cuts most of the instrumentation back to a simple synth line or two and the vocals, revealing it to be a very beautiful song.
So the I Love Saturday single package is proof that you shouldn’t always judge an entire single by its lead track – the EP in particular is well worth owning, perhaps more so even than the album it came from.