Where were you when you first heard “Oh L’Amour?” I was at a seventh grade dance, young, naïve, and a terrible dancer. The voice of Andy Bell accompanied by the electronic sounds produced by Vince Clarke piped out of the speakers. At the time, it was revolutionary. Depeche Mode and Yaz(oo) had some success, but this was club music with the soul of a drama queen. It also marked one of the first times that I had discovered people’s personal prejudices in music. You see, “Oh L’Amour” made me want to dance, despite the fact that I looked like an absolute fool. I mentioned to a friend that I liked the song, to which he replied, “You know he’s singing to a guy, right?” I hesitated for a moment before I realized, `so what?’ Andy Bell was one of the first gay rock icons, and man, could he sing.
Twenty years after Erasure’s inception, Andy Bell has released his first solo album. No, Erasure hasn’t split, in fact, they just finished up a very successful tour with ten nights at the Irving Plaza in New York! Electric Blue is the name of the debut, and it is a dance club DJ’s dream come true. Rather than the more synthy sounds of Clarke’s, Bell’s solo works are a mixture of disco beats, strings, electronica and essentially whatever it takes to get people to shake their rumps.
Bell’s voice is the centerpiece instrument, one that I still think sounds eerily like Alison Moyet’s, belting out androgynous pop melodies. There’s a reason why Bell was handpicked by Clarke out of a group of 40 applicants. Bell’s bouillabaisse of dance, music and love are helped out by Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, Claudia Brucken of Propaganda (featuring on two of the best songs on the CD), and producers Manhattan Clique. Together, they have created an album which celebrates dance club culture and music, makes a salute to the past, and updates it for the clubgoers of today.
Whereas once the dance floors all across this country used to play popular tracks by Madonna, Wham, New Order and Prince, now they are blasted with hip-hop, rap, and new R&B. Andy Bell, now past forty, proves that the dance culture isn’t dead, it was just resting for a bit. For good measure, Bell has also included a ballad, the slow and hypnotic “Fantasy.” Electric Blue might not open new doors, break new ground, or shock its listeners, but what it will do is shake your tailfeather, move your feet, and make you smile.
Erasure- The Innocents
Junior Senior- D-D-Don’t Stop the Beat
Yaz- Upstairs at Eric’s