Yaz/The Best Of Yaz


After writing most of  Depeche Mode’s debut album, Speak Or Spell, Vince Clarke left that band and hooked up with singer/pianist Alison Moyet, whose booming, soulful R&B inflected voice could not have different from that of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. The combination of Moyet’s incredible voice and Clarke’s Electronic pop songs gave Yaz [Known as Yazoo outside of the US] a unique song and much longer career than anyone could have imagined. This collection features remixes and songs from their two release’s Upstairs At Eric’s and You And Me Both.

Only You—-This track really showcases the smoky and bluesy style of Moyet’s voice. Taken from You And Me Both, this is a grand sweeping Electronic ballad that leaves you at once devastated and longing. The sound is so familiar, but Clarke needed this warm up before Erasure….this is classic Clarke…Moyet ain’t half bad either. A wonderful and though provoking song.

Ode To Boy—-Also taken from You & Me Both, the song remains a favorite of mine as well. It is amazing that such low and personal sounds can be made from Electronic devices. The sound of the song is a contradiction…there is a warmth that you can not deny, yet there remains a cold sadness that brings tears to your eyes. Moyet delivers a wonderful almost spoken word performance that really allows you to concentrate on all of the little musical noises. This is wonderful.

Nobody’s Diary—-Hands down, my favorite Yaz song, this would go on the deserted island with me. I just found a really super mix of this song on FrostWire.Com. This is so full of emotion and energy, you are not sure how to react. God I would love to hear Andy Bell sing this song….just once. This is wonderfully energetic, marvellously introspective and a classic temperature that will warm you or cool you depending on the circumstance.

Midnight—-Beginning with an almost acoustic delivery, the swirls are slow to enter the song but slowly they emerge…followed by an Electronic piano line that seems to be recorded after the voice. The song seems to be almost two separate tracks at times…the vocal and the keys. The song does come together in body at one point, but the song is still has an odd sound to it. Could be just me!

Goodbye Seventies—-Taken from Upstairs At Eric’s, this is an electronic ode to the bye gone decade and the emergence of a new sound that never quite managed to save the world. This track is built on left over Depeche Mode music…just sped up a bit. The sounds of the first DM release are all over this track…not a bad thing, because Moyet makes the song all her own…I would love a remix for this track….you got one?

Anyone—-Returning to the more sedate sounds of the synth. Clarke again manages to create a beautiful winter landscape of sounds built from machines alone….remarkable. Moyet delivers a vocal that is so impassioned and tender that you want and need a hug. This is not happy….literally. The feel of the music is funeral and the lyrics and vocal are morose and tear inspiring. Don’t listen to this at the ‘wrong’ time…you will be wrecked.

Don’t Go—-Never fully understanding why this song was not a huge dance floor hit, the song is driven by bass and the most excellent bass you could ask for. The vocal is so smoky and bluesy you would never imagine such a thing would work at this type of mix…it works and in a GRAND way. This is literally synth-ally spectacular.

Mr. Blue—-Once again, this track displays the remarkable ability of these two individuals to come together from separate backgrounds and create songs that are like priceless and timeless paintings. The landscape of the song is so stark and cold…the usually warm synths produce glaciers and snow coats…the vocals are so pained that you want to embrace the words and hug them. This is remarkable!!! A literal early 80’s classic that most people don’t even know exist.

Tuesday—-Again, the heavy mechanic sounds of the track seems as if it should be something that was left over from the DM writing sessions. This could have really propelled the early career of DM…this is wonderfully human while still remaining Electronic and cold…distant and removed….just what I was clamoring for in that era.

Winter Kills—-How can you even refute a song that has such a title…the words say it all. This is cold, but retains a remarkable humanity that will never be denied. The structure of the song is different from most of the Yaz compositions…the low hum in the backdrop is the extent of Electronics…the keyboards are the life that dies in the backdriop…the vocal keeps the song alive with an introspective and serious edge…you are left alone and empty….seeking the end of the tunnel.

State Farm—-Never really understanding the British meaning of the title of this song, I will say that the track reminds of us the genius funk ability of Clarke. This is like a Herbie Hancock toss off that lands square in your face…literally fantastic. The blues laden vocal just adds to the dirty quality of the song….fantastic!!!!

Situation [US 12″ Mix]—-Pretty true to the original, this remix was a vinyl pressing with the added convenience of a few extra beats for club DJ’s. You cannot deny the wonderful synth qualities of the song…this was made in fag heaven and I was there for the first playing on a floor. The vocal is just fantastic Moyet…you would never know she was not Bell if you listened to this unadulterated. Fantastic!!!

Don’t Go [Tee’s Freeze Mix]—-This is almost overwhelmingly dance heavy….I habe to really be in the mood to listen to such an extended and manipulated version of a song that I really like. I love the pace of this mix…it is at least 113 BPM and I like that…the constant looping of the vocal is a bit too much unless you really have a good buzz.

Situation [Club 69 Future Phunk Mix]—-At almost 9 minutes, it is obvious portions of this song were made for dance floor DJ’s and the stuttering quality of the music makes it even more obvious. This is a track full of the best elements of the song built to coincide with a DJ mix to drag the song out to ecstatic measures and lengths. This is ok…but not for every day listens.

Only You [1999 Version]—-Sounding just as haunted and devastated as you would  imagine, the song differs little from the original. the synth line is magnificent and the melancholy vocal seems even more pronounced. A Classic in whatever form.

**** out of 5

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