K-Chuck Radio – Upstairs with Yaz

She was Alison Moyet, a bluesy singer that packed a lifetime of emotion into every lyric.  He was Vince Clarke, an ex-member of Depeche Mode who wanted to take synthesizer music to a new level.

And with two albums and a handful of singles, Moyet and Clarke – better known worldwide as Yazoo, and here in the United States as Yaz – did achieve that.  They were #1 on college radio, their songs were chart-toppers on the dance listings – and just before they broke into superstardom … they broke up.

So on today’s edition of K-Chuck Radio, I want to bring you some of Yaz’ greatest hits.  Trust me, you couldn’t swing a college radio station antenna without hearing at least one Yaz song in the hour.

Let’s start with.

ONLY YOU

This is straight minimalism.  There can’t be more than a few tracks in this song – Moyet’s vocals, Clarke’s synths, and maybe an extra track for vocal dubs.  And with all that … you have magic.

DON’T GO

That opening riff.  And the stingers into the refrain that echo “In The Hall of the Mountain King.”  This song was so powerful, it charted Top 10 worldwide.  World freakin’ wide.

SITUATION

The original version of this is very minimalist, it’s almost an unfinished song.  This version, however – amplified with an amazing 12″ mix by François Kevorkian – packed the dance floor every time it resonated from the turntables.

WINTER KILLS

If you bought the original 7″ of “Don’t Go” and flipped it over to hear the B-side … you discovered Alison Moyet with an anthem to every disaffected youth in the world.  This is the kind of track that Siouxie Sioux wished she could record.

THE OTHER SIDE OF LOVE

This poppy song was a chart-topper in the UK, and it was a nice non-LP track – it didn’t appear on the group’s debut LP Upstairs at Eric’s, or on their follow-up You And Me Both.  Lost gem for sure.

NOBODY’S DIARY

And then when the You and Me Both album came out, this track was the duo’s debut single from that LP – and again, another chart-topper.  By this time, you could hear Vince Clarke’s synths evolving, building more of a support for Alison Moyet’s soaring vocals.

STATE FARM

And just like “Situation,” the B-side of Yaz’ “Nobody’s Diary” turned into a monster club and dance and college hit.  And what a helluva groove!

Now just because I can … I want to share a couple of post-Yaz tracks.  You already may know that Vince Clarke found continued success as a member of the group Erasure, but this next track was released between his Yaz and Erasure tenures.

NEVER NEVER
The Assembly

The plan was to create twelve songs under the Assembly group name, each one with a separate and distinct vocalist.  The project ended after one track – this one with Feargal Sharkey as the lead singer for “Never Never,” a fragment of what could have been.

And as for Alison Moyet, she had a couple of solo hits, including…

INVISIBLE

She went from Vince Clarke’s synths to a Lamont Dozier-penned track with a Spectorish Wall of Sound.  Oh my GOD this should have been a #1 hit in America.  However, it did at least crack the Top 40 charts here, peaking at #31.  So there’s that.

And for that brief period of time – inbetween all the other bands that broke out of England and dominated the alternative and dance and college radio charts – Yaz held their own against the Human League and Soft Cell and A Flock of Seagulls and Depeche Mode and the rest.

They came … they went … but they left something truly amazing behind.

And it’s all right here on K-Chuck Radio!