Reason #966 Why The ’80’s Didn’t Suck

From the Quietus…

n 1982, at my rundown grammar school in a grey suburb of Manchester, musical battle lines had been drawn – you either liked Japan or The Human League. You couldn’t like both and had to display an allegiance. It was akin to Bloods versus Crips or Montagues versus Capulets but with a penchant for Roland synths and lots of floppy hair. I loved both bands but in an early display of shameful social fence-sitting, I hid this decadent truth and publicly sided with Japan.

Very little united us: Soft Cell were a tad too edgy and The Smiths were still a few months away. As pre-pubescent 12-year-old boys, we defended our choices with a bullish swagger and a vast ocean of ignorance. Then, in the springtime, a single was released that comfortably straddled the great divide. Every last one of us loved ‘Only You’ by Yazoo. While the electronics were familiar, the stark ballad offered something very different – soul.

Yazoo were a duo from Basildon, comprising of synth-king Vince Clarke and singer Alison Moyet. They quickly followed ‘Only You’ with a storming second single – ‘Don’t Go’ was a belting synth-pop anthem which showcased a bouncing Clarke melody and Moyet’s rich and glorious voice. Then, in August of 1982, the pair released their debut album Upstairs At Eric’s; a record that married a number of strikingly simple melodies to dark lyrics and Moyet’s extraordinary vocal range.