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Yaz – Upstairs At Eric’s

A Kinda Sorta Pronto Toronto Follow-Up Addition: Yaz – Upstairs At Eric’s

NB: In my digging around I learned that in the UK this group was called Yazoo, but here in North America it was shortened to Yaz. I did not discover why they did this, but I’m sure it was important. Also, I hadn’t known that this duo included Alison Moyet, whom I knew from some of her (excellent) solo work. The other half of the duo is Vince Clarke, formerly of Depeche Mode. So there ya go.

So why the hell is Aaron listening to this? Well, this isn’t offically part of the Pronto Toronto series, as it wasn’t for my own collection, but it’s still from that day so I’ll include it here as a side entry. You see…

I have a co-worker who asked me ages ago to keep an eye out for this album during my digs through all the donations at work. A copy has never appeared. But then, in the New Arrivals bin at Sonic Boom during my Pronto Toronto dash through the place with Brother Craig, there sat a beautiful copy, all set to go! I bought it, passed it along, and my co-worker was thrilled. She LOVES this one. So, of course, I have to give it a spin, to find out why! 

***

Whoa. After Slayer, this was a hard left and there was zero coming back… It was like shifting gears without using the clutch… Now, I’m no expert on synthpop or, well, I guess this is new wave… Look, it was 1982, and so many bands sounded like this. The hair, the outfits, the crappy videos full of laser lights. Synths everywhere, drum machines, wee blips and bleeps and doink noises… 

Wiki says this record had three singles: Only You, Don’t Go, and Situation. I have to say, as I didn’t listen to a lot of this stuff back then, I did not know any of these three songs. Rather than being a hinderance, I found this freed me to just listen to the damned thing and form my own thoughts. Haha Yaz(oo) in a vacuum!

And what did I think of the album? It’s a wee bit too electronic-80s for my taste, though I found Winter Kills to be a refreshing (and artful) respite. There’s no denying the singing talent on display here. In fact, these are waaaay better than a lot of the pop twaddle that got foisted on us back then, and yes this may be my bias towards Alison Moyet’s vocal prowess. I can live with that.

There’s a real art to doing this stuff well, and whatever it is that it takes to get there, these people have it. I also love that they entitled a song I Before E Except After C (even if it is just a weird bunch of talking voices jarring your brain), and they had the clarity of vision to call another track Goodbye 70s. It’s the 80s, bitch! Haha. 

I didn’t listen to the lyrics at all, really, but it did seem like they asked me if I could hear them, quite often. I kept thinking yes, I can. I am listening. Are you breaking the fourth wall here? No, probably just being deep in that 80s way of differentiating between listening and hearing… oh so profound. Anyway, it seemed a lot.

I’m sure there are those of you out there who know way more about this record than I do, and I’ll happily accept all of your insights in the Comments section, below. Educate me! 

In Sum: 

Not really my bag of synthesizers, but I can respect that this record surely must be considered one of the best examples of its kind. Definitely the vocals were the highlights, for me.

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