There are albums that demarcate the moment when a band skyrockets from regional popularity to international superstardom. Erasure’s third album, The Innocents, released in 1988 was this album for this incredible duo.
Erasure is Andy Bell and Vince Clarke. Clark is a founding member of the band, Depeche Mode, and also created the bands, Yazoo, and, The Assembly. Bell answered an advertisement to audition for Clark to form a new band and won. In a recent Guardian interview, Bell was asked if he was nervous working with the well known Clarke,
“Very much so. In the studio, I was so enamoured of Vince I just kept staring at him. He was my hero. I couldn’t believe I was there and kept running out of breath, especially on Oh L’Amour. They were trying to get me to relax and they had me lying down on the floor and telling me jokes. The weird thing was, after Yazoo split up I was thinking of writing Vince a letter offering my services. We were listening to Alison’s first solo album and my mate said, “That’s going to be you in a year’s time” — and then I met Vince.”
Erasure has always been most popular in the UK — achieving 24 consecutive Top 40 hits there between 1986 and 2007 — and mainland Europe, particularly Germany and Scandinavia. Erasure have written over 200 songs and have sold 25 million albums worldwide.
Andy Bell is a truly gifted singer and Erasure’s songs exploit his comfort in singing in quite a large range. While Erasure lives in the synthpop sound that they helped popularize in the eighties, their musicianship and theatricality are of the highest order. They couldn’t be more different on stage. Bell, the flamboyant and charismatic lead singer, and Clarke the stoic and concentrated keyboard and guitar player. Watch this incredible live show of the album from Birmingham in 1988.
The Innocents became the first in a string of number-one albums by Erasure in the UK, turning double platinum and twenty three years after its release the album has sold a total of five million copies worldwide. It is still their best selling album.
Andy Bell was one of the first openly gay pop stars during a time when there were still many who chose to hide their sexuality. In the same Guardian interview, he responds,
Yeah, but that’s just how society was. People like me and Jimmy Somerville were just very honest. It’s staggering how it’s changed, gay marriage and all. I think the public is in tune with mother nature and we evolve without realising it. We fight for our rights and stuff, but politicians are the last people to sign everything off.