Charted at No. 68 on 21st October 1986, made No. 2 for Vince and Andy in early December. The follow-up 'It Doesn't Have To Be' has already charted.I don't want to give the impression that the structure of this blog is any more thought-out than it is, but one advantage I've discovered of it not being in chronological order is that I sometimes get to revisit the same acts over a wider span of time than I otherwise would have done, and on occasion that means that my view of an act changes over the years. It seems to have been the case with Erasure, whom I started out thinking I didn't like at all, but as I've listened to more and more of these albums I feel I've caught up with them a bit and I even have this particular track on my MP3 player, ripped from a cheaply-acquired compilation CD; not this one though, as this is one of the tracks dropped from the CD version of Now 9 (which I haven't got anyway).
I must admit I have no memory at all of 'It Doesn't Have To Be', although I can see it got as high as 12 (actually a relatively low position for Erasure in the late 80s). It wasn't always like that, as Erasure got to the slowest start of any of Vince Clarke's big acts; their first three singles peaked at 55, 100 and 85, so this hit came along at the right time to launch them as a successful act - nearly 27 years on they have become easily the longest partnership of Clarke's career, even if they're no longer a major singles act. Knowing roughly when it was released, I'd falsely believed that this was one of those breakthrough hits helped by the post-Christmas lull, but as the note above makes plain it was actually before that, and was still Top 5 at Christmas, ironically outperforming an Alison Moyet single, though Depeche Mode didn't have anything out at the time.
I realise at this point that I started the first two paragraphs with "I", and this is now the third. But I do remember the song well, even if I didn't quite recall the release date correctly. Somehow, the line "It's not the way you leave your clothes upon the bathroom floor" stuck in my mind, perhaps because it wasn't the sort of thing I was used to hearing about in pop music then; of course it also made more sense to my eight-year-old self than all the lyrics about going to bed together that I didn't really understand then. I couldn't quite figure out the lyric about "sometimes the truth is harder than the pain inside" either, but then again I was used to not understanding songs back then. Looking back, I guess it's about a man going back to a partner who's mistreated him ("it's the broken heart that decides") somebody he possibly doesn't even like that much but is still drawn to because of their sex life. He knows it's not really right but he just can't stop himself. I wouldn't call this emotionally intense, but it's a decent pop song and Flood's production has dated surprisingly well, underpinning the synthpop you'd expect with acoustic guitars and what sound like they might even be real trumpets. Possibly this is why they made their debut Top Of The Pops appearance (miming of course) with no keyboards on stage and Clarke unconvincingly strumming on a steel guitar, anticipating the look George Michael would adopt for his 'Faith' single a year later. Anyway, it's a surprisingly satisfying confection. I do like Erasure sometimes.
Also appearing on: Now 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 54
Available on: The Circus