WHAT IS THE PERFECT SITUATION?

I originally had a thought to having this feature in the great debut singles series:-

mp3 : Yazoo – Only You

In some ways, it was a fluke that it all came together.

Vince Clarke had unexpectedly left the electronic band Depeche Mode, not terribly happy or comfortable with what life was like as a bona-fide pop star. He continued to write songs, one of which was a ballad called Only You which he felt could be his calling card to Mute Records in terms of being offered some sort of solo contract, possibly as a composer whose work would be performed by guest singers. He happened upon Alison Moyet, via having seen her perform with various bands around the London pub circuit, and persuaded her to record a vocal of Only You for a demo to give to Daniel Miller, the boss of Mute.

Neither the singer or performer had any great wish to make the working relationship a permanent one, but Daniel Miller felt there was real potential and more or less said he wouldn’t release it as a 45 unless there was a band or group to which it could be attributed. Thus was born Yazoo.

Only You turned out to be a bit of a slow burner, creeping into the charts at a lowly #72 on its release in mid-April 1982 , but after six weeks it had reached its peak of #2. It only dropped out of the Top 75 in mid-July and on the very same week the follow-up 45, Don’t Go, entered the Top 30. It took until the end of September 1982 before Don’t Go fell out of the charts, bringing an end to a quite incredible 27-week run of Yazoo have a single in The UK Top 75.

I hadn’t realised until doing the research that Yazoo only released four singles in the lifetime of the group – The Other Side of Love (November 1982) and Nobody’s Diary (May 1983). The fact that both of these singles also hung around the charts for an extended period is probably the reason why I thought there had been many more.

One of other great things about the debut single is it’s b-side. The fact that something so catchy and danceable was more or less thrown away is an indication that neither Vince or Alison perhaps felt Yazoo had much legs. The duo only had two songs when they went into the studio for the first time, but they wanted to hold Don’t Go back as a potential follow-up 45, and so very quickly they composed this:-

mp3 : Yazoo – Situation (7” version)
mp3 : Yazoo – Situation (12” version)

Only You was the same length on both the 7″ and 12″ releases

The best known version of the song, however, emerged when it was released as a stand-alone single in North America when what was called a dub version was created, courtesy of the French-born but NYC-based producer François Kevorkian, who became better-known the following year among the indie kids here in the UK when he turned his attention to This Charming Man.

mp3 : Yazoo – Situation (12” dub version)

It’s this version which really made stars of Yaz, as they were known in the States, getting to the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Play chart and crossing over into the same publication’s Black Singles chart for a number of weeks. Vince and Alison may have made for a very odd couple but there’s no disputing that they knew how to go about filling a dance floor.

JC

7 thoughts on “WHAT IS THE PERFECT SITUATION?

  1. I love all the singles but Nobody’s Diary is the pick of the bunch . Perfect heartbreak record

  2. I concur with FORW – Nobody’s Diary is the best of the four singles. Quite a few years back, Alison and Vince got back together for a few gigs, one of which I got to see. They did every one of their songs, even a re-worked version of I Before E Except After C.

  3. Yazoo is an exceptional pop band. Just exceptional.

    The singles are just pop gems with Only You rightly claiming the tag ‘classic’. Upstairs at Eric’s is one of the finest, and most played debut LPs in my collection.
    You and Me Both is also stunning. I’m afraid I can’t use enough superlatives.

    Situation is one of the best b-sides in my collection.

    At the time I recall searching everywhere for a version of Get Set (the theme to the kids TV programme Get Set for Summer) – even the Barra’s dodgy tape stall – but in the end had to console myself with a badly transferred version from the recorded video performance. It was officially released as a download only bonus with Reconnected (2010).

    Watching the video prior to posting still brought chills. Just look at all those young Tony Hadleys, Susan Sulleys and Joanne Catheralls go.

    The sessions they did with Peter Powell are also remarkable.

    I had the privilege of seeing them live (Tiffany’s, Glasgow 1982). It was out of this world 1. because of the band and 2. because I was under-age and shouldn’t have got in. I saw them again in Glasgow in 2008. It was certainly a more polished performance, in the type of venue I loathe, but no less affecting.

  4. I also join the FORW rank, Nobody’s Diary is the winner. I saw Alison on a solo tour a couple of years ago and she did a few of the Yazoo tracks, introducing ND with telling she was 16 years old (young) when she wrote it. I searched my memory for my writing capabilities at 16 and felt somewhat ashamed…

  5. I suppose there will be a time when I’ll not want to hear Only You. It has not happened yet.
    great post. as always. You are the Vince Clarke of music bloggers.

  6. I wouldn’t say the dub version made them stars but the proper 12″ that was remixed by Francois, though that dub is amazing. Newcleus’ Jam On It is a complete rip off this version (minus the rapping of course).

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