Erasure/The Two Ring Circus

2 Ring Circus

The Two-Ring Circus is a combination remix and live album from Erasure that served as a companion piece to their second album The Circus. It was released in 1987 on Mute Records in the UK and Sire Records in the U.S. The vinyl version was a double album that did not contain the final six live tracks which appeared on the cassette and CD versions.

UK chart rules at the time made The Two Ring Circus ineligible to chart, although it did reach number twenty-six in Germany. It became their second release to briefly slip into the Billboard 200, peaking at number 186.

All but one song on The Two Ring Circus were Erasure originals that had already appeared on their first two albums. The last track, a live version of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” was their first remake of an ABBA tune, foreshadowing a concept that would later provide them with a number-one in the UK in 1992 with the Abba-esque EP. [Wikipedia]

Sometimes [Erasure & Flood Remix]—-seem to be one of those Erasure fans that never put to much investment into the first few Erasure releases, although over the years the importance and relevance of these releases have come to change my mind.  This version of the longstanding popular single is done with mastery and typical flair. Of course the familiar strains of Clarke’s synth is everywhere on this track. Bell delivers a vocal that is a bit more sedate than later recordings…none the less, the voice is strong and full of emotion. this is a breaking band that never realized the potential til the 3rd or 4th release…in the meantime. we are left to savor the synth mastery of Clarke…this is exquisite!!!

It Doesn’t Have To Be [Paschal Gabriel Remix]—-This is incredible…the synth lines are pronounced and the bass that eventually emerges from the song seems to almost dictate the direction and energy of the track. this is really classic Erasure…..the playful synth of Clarke matches the fantastic vocal of Bell. the vocal overlays that are studio produced really gives you hint at the vocal range that Bell possesses. This is energetic. upbeat and has all kinds of great bass breaks that allows you to lose yourself on the dance floor. This is just what the Dr. ordered today…something light, airy and flexible…

Victim Of Love [Little Louie Vega Mix]—-I remain one of the few people who did not fall in love with this song the first time that they heard it…this remix completely changes how I felt about this song from the moment I heard it. The bass is heavier and the synth effects are spectacular. The vocal is put on full display and you realize the full remarkable melody of the song. This is a lazy, almost show gaze version that allows you to dance with your hands in your pockets, stare at the floor and lose yourself in the music. This is wonderful, classic and now…a favorite!

Leave Me To Bleed [Vince Clarke/Eric Radcliffe Mix]—-With a remarkable repetive synth line that slowly introduces all of the different elements of the song, this is slow to come alive but is worth the wait. This is almost orchestrated synth dance floor mania. The vocal begins sweet and tender, conjuring up the heavy visuals of the seedier gay clubs we have been in. The vocal develops and leaves you almost desperately sad….reminding us that momentary love can be fatal…both physically and emotionally. This is exquisite…a band on the cutting edge, there are no wrong turns on this track.

Hideaway [Little Louie Vega Mix]—-Beginning with a marvelous and grand piano intro, the bass is slow to develop. but Vega leaves you wanting and wanting until you finally get the vocal in place of the familiar bass sound. the result is literally fantastic. the vocal from bell leaves you feeling sad and hanging your head all while you dance to the euphoric underlying synth lines. this is brilliant…this is huge and magnificent…the 80’s synth movement that was emerging was filled with grand bands like this…few survived and Erasure continues to produce singles that can stand next to this with every kind of pride imaginable!!!

Don’t Dance [Daniel Miller/Flood Mix]—-Treating us to the very basic synth movements of the original song, the song is slow to develop…adding sounds bit by bit…making your heart beat faster with every new sound as you wait to explode with the full on assault of the dance floor. this is magnificent, if only for the anticipation. Bell enters the scene with a vocal that seems to be stretched out a bit..accentuationg certain words and showcasing his magnificent falsetto. This is a tour de force of anticipation, synth, vocals and goose bump inspiring energy.

The Circus [Dave Powell Mix]—-This has always been a favorite track of mine..I loved the original and I love how this mix takes the downshift of synth lines and makes it even more pronounced. Andy Bell can sing the hell out of a ballad and the double track vocal that produces the harmony in exquisite. This is an anomalie…the synth is cheerful and upbeat while the vocal and lyric gives you pause and makes you think about things a bit xloser…truly wonderful!

If I Could [Orchestral Arrangement]—-Magnificent!!! Even though the vocals are included on these songs, the orchestration seems to add a whole new voice to the arrangements. this is lush, introspective and beautiful. Perhaps the best re-arrangements that I have ever heard from this band. This will stay in your head, makes you think and allow you to move on…all in one song…if only life was so easy!

Spiralling [Orchestral Arrangement]—-Allowing the audience to really experience the great vocal that Bell is capable of, this will leave you almost devestated…the feelings are raw and real and something that at any given time we can all fall back on and relate to. This is brilliant…the sound is quiet and lush…the brass instruments talking for the missing synths, the strings building a lush emotional feel…I could never ask for more!!!

My Heart….So Blue [Orchestral Arrangement]—-This track, even in its original form will take your heart, rip it out and leave it on the floor…this magical arrangement adds a big fat show print to the mix. this is brutally honest, almost too real and will stick with you until next Wednesday. This is masterful, exquisite, sad, magnificent and simply wonderful!!!

Victim Of Love [Live]—-Erasure live, regardless of the time period, is a spectacle that needs to be enjoyed by any true fan. I have seen the duo 7 times and each time am amazed by the theatrics, extravagance and mastery. The vocal is always crystal clear and the synth manipulations by Clarke are always record perfect. This track…a huge fan favorite has all of the necessary energy and the remarkable falsetto of Bell perfectly. Imagine standing and experiencing this right smack in your face…it is a joy!!!

Spiralling [Live]—-With a quiet intro that is led by an exquisite Bell vocal, the crowd in germany is literally crazy for the guy. this is brilliant…the emotion hangs deep in the arena and the sweet synth lines lead you to become lost in the overall emotion of the track. this guy can sing…songs like this only prove the remarkable ability of the band that works together like perfectly oiled machinery. Fantastic!

Sometimes [Live]—-the energy of this performance is incredible…the crowd reaction to the very opening strains of the music is incredible. Bell sounds like he has done this forever…even though he was plucked from obscurity by Clarke through a newspaper ad. this plays so well live, Clarke was able to take his studio sound to the stage with little problem and the display is magnificent. this live rendition has even more energy than the original studio cut.

Oh L’Amour [Live]—-Of course, the crowd literally goes out of its mind when this song is introduced. Accompanied by a bevy of German intro words, the crowd erupts with a manic rush. The vocal is the first thing you hear…sweet, tender and raw….as the Clarke synths hit the crowd becomes more frenzied and we are off to a huge Gay Day At The Races. This is a wonderful song…even in its recorded version…here it is even more controlled, masterful and delivered with an energy that is addictive and joyous!!!

Who Needs Love Like That [Live]—-Obviously, from the crowd reaction, these folks are well versed in The erasure catalog and love this track. Although this was a huge hit for the band…this never did too much for me…the song is juvenile and let me with little emotional content. This live rendition is fun, energetic and much more appealing to me. This is great!

 Gimme Gimme Gimme [Live]—-An early glimpse at the fascination with ABBA, this live rendition of the classic song is full of energy and fun…perhaps the earliest times that Bell really put his sexuality out on display for everyone to grab a hold of. This is lots of fun, as most of Erasures versions of ABBA songs are. This is a nice bit of history that has never grown old for me. the early synths are surprisingly familiar as Clarke beefs up the classic sound of the band and accentuates the synths that would later appear on ABBA-esque!!!

**** out of 5


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