Flop? The Best of Erasure’s Compilation Albums

As with Jean-Michel Jarre, whose compilation back catalogue we examined here, Erasure have just added yet another one to their list. I was actually surprised how well it performed on the charts, but it proves that they are finally being recognised as they legends they truly are.

But is Always – The Very Best Of their best compilation, or should you go for a different choice? Once an artist has more than a couple of choices on the market, it can be very difficult to choose. Let’s attempt to find out by spuriously but studiously scoring each of their compilations. Firstly, what tracks do you get on each one?

UK Chart Position Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Who Needs Love (Like That) (1985) 55 * * * *
Heavenly Action (1985) 100 * *
Oh L’Amour (1985) 85 * * * *
Sometimes (1986) 2 * * * * *
It Doesn’t Have to Be (1986) 12 * * *
Victim of Love (1987) 7 * * * * *
The Circus (1987) 6 * * * *
Ship of Fools (1988) 6 * * * * *
Chains of Love (1988) 11 * * * *
A Little Respect (1988) 4 * * * *
Stop! (1988) 2 * * * *
Drama! (1989) 4 * * *
You Surround Me (1989) 15 * * *
Blue Savannah (1990) 3 * * * *
Star (1990) 11 * * *
Chorus (1991) 3 * * * * *
Love to Hate You (1991) 15 * * * *
Am I Right? (1991) 22 * * *
Breath of Life (1992) 8 * * *
Take a Chance on Me (1992) 1 * * * *
Lay All Your Love on Me (1992) *
Voulez-Vous (1992) *
Who Needs Love (Like That) (Hamburg Mix) (1992) 10 * *
Always (1994) 4 * * * * *
Run to the Sun (1994) 6 * *
I Love Saturday (1994) 20 * * *
Stay with Me (1995) 15 * * *
Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day) (1995) 20 * * *
Rock Me Gently (1996) * *
In My Arms (1997) 13 * * *
Don’t Say Your Love is Killing Me (1997) 23 * *
Rain (1997) * *
Freedom (2000) 27 * * *
Moon & The Sky (2001) * *
Solsbury Hill (2003) 10 * * *
Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (2003) 14 * * *
Oh L’Amour (August Mix) (2003) 13 * +
When Will I See You Again (2003) *
Video Killed the Radio Star (2003) *
Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime (2003) *
Breathe (2005) 4 * * *
Don’t Say You Love Me (2005) 15 * *
Here I Go Impossible Again (2005) 25 * *
All This Time Still Falling Out of Love (2005) +
Boy (2006) +
I Could Fall in Love with You (2007) 21 * *
Sunday Girl (2007) 33 * *
Storm in a Teacup (2007) * *
Always 2009 (2009) * *
Be with You (2011) *
Elevation (2014) *
Sometimes (2015 Mix) (2015) *

The Scoring

Firstly, Erasure are a British duo, so it seems reasonable to score each album by the number (and size) of the UK hits that it contains. Let’s award a tenth of a point for each Top 100 hit; an extra point for each Top 40 hit; another for each Top 20 hit; one for each Top 10 hit; and another for a Top 5. Multiple tracks from the same release won’t get any extra points, and neither will the bonus tracks on Total Pop. By my calculation, that gives us:

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Tracks 21 20 41 20 16 20
Top 100 21 18 36 15 13 17
Top 40 18 17 33 15 12 15
Top 20 17 16 27 10 11 15
Top 10 12 11 16 4 6 12
Top 5 6 7 8 2 3 9
Total Carried Forward 7.4 6.9 12.0 4.6 4.5 6.8

Any compilation worth its salt should always contain a reasonable cross-section of existing material. We should therefore award points for each album that was available at the time of release. These will be distributed as follows:

  • Over 90%: 10 points
  • 80-90%: 9 points

… and so-on. For the sake of this calculation, we’ll be pretending that Union Street doesn’t exist. That gives us the following scores:

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 7.4 6.9 12.0 4.6 4.5 6.8
number of studio albums represented / available 5 / 5 10 / 10 12 / 12 7 / 7 * 7 / 13 10 / 15
Album points 10 10 10 10 5 6
Total Carried Forward 17.4 16.9 22.0 14.6 9.5 12.8

* Even though there were 12 albums available when Pop 2 appeared, it seems unfair to penalise it when it only ever claimed to be a second volume, so I have awarded it the full 10 points here.

Most of the compilations charted, so let’s give them a bonus for performing well, in line with the singles points above:

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 17.4 16.9 22.0 14.6 9.5 12.8
UK Album Chart Peak 1 15 21 9
Bonus points 5 3 2 0 0 4
Total Carried Forward 22.4 19.9 24.0 14.6 9.5 16.8

Since Total Pop is a double album, it is gaining slightly unfairly here. Clearly a double album appeals less to the casual fan. By choice, you might go for the cheapest, so let’s subtract the difference based on difference from the cheapest, using the current price of each release (courtesy of Amazon UK).

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 22.4 19.9 24.0 14.6 9.5 16.8
Current CD Price £4.99 £5.00 £11.66 £9.47 £13.59 £12.99
Current Download Price £7.99 £12.99 £6.19 £7.99
CD Price Difference £0.00 £0.01 £6.67 £4.48 £8.60 £8.00
Download Price Difference £1.80 £6.80 £0.00 £1.80
Points deducted 0 0.1 6.7 4.5 0 1.8
Total Carried Forward 22.4 19.8 17.3 10.1 9.5 15.0

Some of these releases come with a nice set of bonus features, so let’s add a point or two in honour of them…

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 22.4 19.8 17.3 10.1 9.5 15.0
Optional Bonus Features None Bonus disc with megamix Box set with live disc, extra downloads None None Two bonus discs of remixes
Points Added 0 1 5 0 0 5
Total Carried Forward 22.4 20.8 22.3 10.1 9.5 20.0

Finally, it definitely isn’t fair to listeners if you don’t try to squeeze as much as possible onto each disc, so we should subtract points for wasted space on each disc. A release therefore loses a point for each minute below 78 minutes of total possible duration.

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 22.4 20.8 22.3 10.1 9.5 20.0
Possible Duration 78:00 78:00 156:00 78:00 78:00 78:00
Duration 78:24 77:52 155:54 77:30 61:02 76:01
Points deducted 0 0 0 0 -17 -2
Final score 22.4 20.8 22.3 10.1 -7.5 18.0

So there you have it! Always: The Very Best Of may be performing well in the charts as we speak, but we have proved using actual maths that it’s not quite as good as some of its predecessors. Depending on how much of a completist you want to be, you should choose between Pop! The First 20 Hits, and Total Pop! The First 40 Hits instead.

And please spare a brief thought for poor Essential, which managed to end up with negative points…

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One thought on “Flop? The Best of Erasure’s Compilation Albums

  1. Pingback: Anthology Season | Music for stowaways

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