- Audio CD (May 13 1997)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Maverick
- ASIN: B000002NH0
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette
- Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
|2. Worlds On Fire|
|3. Reach Out|
|4. In My Arms|
|5. Don't Say Your Love Is Killing Me|
|9. How Can I Say|
|10. Save Me Darling|
|11. Love Affair|
|12. Magic Moments|
This album has some sentimental value for me. The first (and only) time I have seen Erasure live in concert was a promo tour that they did prior to the release of Cowboy, playing small venues, like Numbers in Houston. And I met a guy there that would provide my first "experience" <wink>
Anyhow, if nothing else, I think that In My Arms is one of their finest singles ever, bar none. In fact, I think that In My Arms resulted from an evolution that started with Chorus and continued with Always. Sonically, I think few other singles match its "frisson".
If you pay attention to the lyrics, you will detect a water theme that runs throughout the album. This theme starts, obviously, with Rain. On the promo tour, Andy sang Rain, and it was thrilling to hear a future single before hearing it on disc! The crowd loved it. On the studio album, Rain works beautifully in tandem with the next track, Worlds on Fire. Another reviewer described this song as a "skip over", which baffles me. It's a poignant, melodic song that reminds me a little bit of Turns the Love to Anger (from the Chorus album), not so much in how it sounds, but the message. "We are space, a lonely race, a speck of dust upon the face."
Reach Out and Touch Me, though catchy, never fully satisfies me, probably due to the male backing vocals, which do not mesh well with Andy's. Also, what bothers me is that "dum, dum-dum, dum, dum" hook that sounds like it came from the single, Stop!, just taken down an octave.
Don't Say Your Love is Killing Me has its fans, but I find it highly disappointing. It is the only Erasure Single released to date that sounds like, "Okay, let's crank out a single." Even the video that Erasure made for it was stupid.
Another pair of songs that work very well with another is Precious/Treasure. Precious sounds at first like a ship pulling into a foggy harbour, and then like a gathering storm. Lyrically and sonically, it's a very dense song, painting a vivid picture for you. This is one of those songs that you "drink" in, not just hear. Treasure does sound like a coda to Crown of Thorns. Instead of just a lazy sample, it adapts the idea behind Crown of Thorns. The lyrics are a bit confusing as to the specific message, but I think of this song as a lament about the American expansion into the Wild West. The refrain is one of the most soaring ones ever composed by Erasure, and that "Wild West" riff before the final refrain is pure genius.
As a gay man, I find "Boy" to be a little off-putting. Andy sounds very much like a bitter old queen, admonishing a lover who obviously wants a bit of "fun" on the side.
How Do You Say does sound trite and stale to me... other fans think better of it, but I don't
Things get better with Save Me Darling. I love that pulsating vibe thoughout, and the lyrics are kind of campy, and definitely catchy. It's Not Just a Love Affair is another bitter ex-lover anthem, but not so irritating as Boy. The beginning is a bit mawkish and torchy, but the hits its stride two-thirds of the way through.
The two bonus tracks leave much to be desired, just a couple of lame covers. I think the fans would have liked one or two more original tracks! Rapture isn't half-bad, but Magic Moments is just too corny to digest.
On the whole, Cowboy has enough good bits in it to satisfy you, if you are a fan or a casual listener.
The key components of the Erasure sound are certainly here: Andy Bell's soaring vocals and Vince Clarke's electronic wizardry. But there's a lack of variety to the material and a sense that they're playing it safe. The spark of ingenuity that marked their previous two records is missing.
There are definitely some tuneful tracks here, particularly "Rain," "Worlds on Fire," "In My Arms" and "How Can I Say." But nothing here matches the brilliance of "Sono Luminous" or "Take Me Home," or the infectiousness of "Run to the Sun" or "I Love Saturday." Some of the songs - particularly "Save Me Darling" and a treacly rendition of "Magic Moments" - are positively cringe-inducing. There's also a tepid cover of Blondie's "Rapture," a misfire that foreshadows 2003's disappointing "Other People's Songs."
Since "Cowboy" does capture the form (if not the substance) of Erasure's sound, I do recommend it to anyone who just can't get enough of the band. But if you want to hear Erasure at their best, take a pass on this one.