It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Musically. I mean the 80s, of course. Looking for the album and the band that launched a generation? Look no further than Yaz: Upstairs at Eric’s.
These lyrics from the song “Goodbye 70s” sum up/summon the gen 80s:
to your credit to the thirty faces you created
to your headache to the shape of the 1980’s
i’m glad that we don’t hear you any more
i’m tired of playing in your fashion war
to the lights to the trend setting in your head
sunday nights tear from the youth cults already dead
i’m glad that we don’t hear you and more
i’m tired of fighting in your fashion war
So you never heard of Yaz? Shame on you.
Moyet has a voice like the face of Helen of Troy. A voice that launched a thousand ships, started wars, changed history. “Winter Kills” is soul-shattering and epic and timeless. (Put that in your Aegean War and smoke it. Homer would have written about the lovely Alison if he’d been born a little later.)
There is nothing more emblematic of the 80s than its music. These are the emblem makers. Yaz is known as Yazoo in the UK. Why does a band need two names? Because in typical US fashion we welcomed the British pop invasion with you-guessed-it LAWSUITS. Yazoo’s launch into the US was greeted with a £3.5 million lawsuit threat over the band’s name. Yazoo renamed to Yaz for the US market because the name was already in use by a small American rock band. Which no one has ever heard of or cared about, then or since. Shame on them.
Yes, this will be the shaming review. (I’m old. Sue me.) While the 17 yr old inside me is pogo-ing (Remember pogo?) to the beat, the 42 yr old (going on 80) is tsk-tsking you young whippersnappers who haven’t got the sense god gave an mp3 player.
Learn your Yaz! Yaz is the legendary coupling of Alison Moyet (vocals) and Vince Clarke (synthesizer). 1982’s UPSTAIRS AT ERIC’S is the first of their only two albums went platinum in Britain. Synthesizer wizard Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode after their first album and went on to create Erasure. He and then girlfriend and musical goddess, Alison Moyet, merged R&B; and European electronica, a musical fusion which defined the Top 40 throughout the ’80s. Yaz/Yazoo continues to influence and inspire many of today’s bands, including Shiny Toy Guns and Blaqk Audio. The band YAZ ended with break up of Moyet and Clarke’s relationship, shortly before the release of the second album, You and Me Both. They both went on to successful, influential musical careers.
The album, UPSTAIRS AT ERIC’S, is named after producer Eric Radcliffe’s home where YAZ lived and worked during the recording. It contains three classic singles: “Don’t Go,” “Situation,” and “Only You.” If you think you’ve never heard Yaz, just listen to any one of these.
You’ve heard ’em. But they’re worth hearing. Again and again.
Buy Upstairs At Eric’s from Collector’s Choice Music