FDF Volume 1 Issue 30: Yaz - Upstairs at Eric's
Album - Upstairs at Eric's
Artist - Yazoo (known as Yaz in the USA)
Key Players - Alison Moyet, Vince Clarke
Produced By - Yaz and E.C. Radcliffe
Released - August 23, 1982
What caused me to blow the dust off this? Blame Sirius again for playing "Situation" coupled with the fact a week or so ago I was asked by a co-worker to 'borrow' the cd.
Overview - This was the first record from Yaz. The band formed in 1981. Clarke had just left Depeche Mode and was looking for a new creative outlet. By April of 1982 the band had released a single, that Clarke had originally planned to give Depeche Mode, they declined...the song hit #2 on the charts. (Only You). The band would release only 2 records before disbanding.
FDF Comment (aka the Songs): "Don't Go" opens the album up with every bit of an "80's synth sound" you'd expect. You can hear where the theme from Beverly Hills Cop was lifted from. "Too Pieces" allows Moyet to shine for the first time vocally. It's a mellower song than "Don't Go", but it allows you to hear the power in her voice. The intro to "Bad Connection" may have some folks rolling their eyes that are not familiar with Yaz. It sounds pretty cheesy and every bit "80's synth pop" that was later bastardized by other bands. "I Before E Except After C" is a very bizarre track. Its virtually a spoken word track in which loops and delays are heavily used. Although interesting on some levels its one that you can skip (only after you have listened to it at least once). "Midnight" opens with Moyet singing a few bars acapella. This is another song that really allows Moyet to shine vocally with not as much "gimmicky" synth work. "In My Room" is a little like "I Before E.." in that has a lot of spoke parts. Again its an interesting track as Clarke recites "The Lords Prayer" over the top of Moyets words. There are canned vocal lines shouted here and there and the keyboard is accentuated with a punchy drum machine. "Only You" continues along the same vein as some of the earlier tracks with a pretty simple synth pattern underneath the vocal tracks. "Goodbye Seventies" is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The music will have you thinking you are watching Blade Runner and the urgency in Moyets voice pushes this song to the next level. The track is also the shortest on the record clocking in at just a tad over 2:30, they quick get in and out very effectively. Out come the guns on "Situation". Its very easy to hear why this song was, for all intents and purposes, a club smash. Even 24 years later it would translate easily to dance clubs. Even the "standard" version of this track is the longest on the record. The band went from shortest to longest in these two tracks showing multiple angles on their talent. "Winter Kills" is almost confusing at first. Gone are the synths and a lone piano introduces the song. Moyet sings, almost downtrodden. It is a polar opposite to "Situation". "Bring Your love Down (Didn't I) closes the album out strongly. The nice synth work on the stronger tracks appears and Moyet sings in earnest leaving you wanting only more.
Where are they now?: Both have gone on to other projects. Moyet has released a series of solo records while Vince Clarke went on to form the band Erasure.
FDF Personal Comments (aka the live experience): Age is the problem on this one. Considering the band disbanded when I was hardly a teenager, coupled with the fact the only toured briefly I was unable to ever see them live. In reading the liner notes of Upstairs the band tour England as just the two members, a drum machine, computer and some movie screens.
FDF Overall take: Looking back, and listening to this record again you realize that so much what they did was really what defined early 80's electronica. As a total side bar to this, virtually every female I know around my age had this record, or had a sibling that had it. Even if the overall sales are low this is one record that was heard by a lot of people. In poking around you can find this cd used for about $3.00. Skip the starbucks one day (which sucks anyway) and give your ears a treat, you can thank me later.