Story Of The Song: Only You, Yazoo (1982), Mute Records

Robert Webb
Wednesday 31 January 2007 01:00
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Yazoo were pop's odd couple. Vince Clarke bent over his synthesiser like a bleached pipe cleaner with a floppy fringe. Alison Moyet, then known by the epithet Alf, was all smouldering eyeliner: larger than life and with a voice to match. Their musical interests collided in a techno-blues quite unlike any other in the early Eighties. Clarke was a founder member of Depeche Mode, whose hits "New Life" and "Just Can't Get Enough" helped put the independent label Mute Records on the mainstream map. Mute was formed in 1978 by Daniel Miller, initially for his own single, "Warm Leatherette". By specialising in electronic pop, the label soon carved a niche for itself. Their biggest success by far in the Eighties was Depeche Mode.

After the band's debut album, Speak and Spell, Clarke fastened the clasps on his synthesiser case and walked out. "It would be out of order for me to say that their attitude was wrong. It was just different to mine," he said. Clarke palled up with Moyet after replying to an advert in the Melody Maker. Moyet, then aged 21, was searching for "rootsy blues musicians" to work with. Clarke wasn't quite that, but he had met the singer at a Saturday morning music school in their hometown of Basildon in the Seventies and liked her style. Back then, Moyet was learning the oboe and Clarke the violin. He gave her a call and Yazoo was born. Clarke played her "Only You", which had been rejected by his former band for Speak and Spell. "I wanted to see it recorded," he said.

It turned out to be the perfect launch pad for the new partnership. Moyet sings a sad song through a rainy window, tugging at Clarke's baroque synthesiser arpeggio with real soul: "This is going to take a long time/And I wonder what's mine/Can't take no more." It was produced by Clarke and Miller, with Eric Radcliffe, and issued on Mute in May 1982, reaching No 2 in the charts.

A year later, during Christmas 1983, the Flying Pickets improved on its chart position in an imaginative arrangement, making the song the first a cappella No 1. It has also been covered by Rita Coolidge and more recently gained new appeal as the poignant background to the long-awaited final scene between Tim and Dawn in Ricky Gervais' hit sitcom The Office.

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