Monday, 23 March 2009

Depeche Mode week - Day 6: Walking in Clarke's shoes

In what has evidently been a very long week and thus a completely failed experiment, day 6 of this brief guide to Basildon's finest brings us closer to the bloke that scarpered - Vince Clarke.

Having knocked up the first LP Speak and Spell succesfully, Clarke decided Depeche wasn't for him. No animosity but it almost single-handedly had the music press wiping this new lot of the board straight off. We know that turned out to be a false move, but what happened to 'ol Vince? Well, if the name isn't familiar for whatever reason, then you do actually know.

First off, he tapped up a mate from Basildon by the name of Alison Moyet, a fairly streetwise lass that scared the crap out of the Depeche lads, all told. Taking the name Yazoo, (or Yaz to you American lot) Clarke kept the synths and went along with Moyet's belting voice for a few pop nuggets including Nobody's Diary, Only You and this catchy little gem:

Alas, this didn't last long. They parted ways, although it did allow Moyet to gain some respectable success as a solo artist. Have a dig, but I recommend this first off. Don't ask me about the video, I have no idea...

Back to Clarke, who had tinkered with the idea of a project whereby he teamed up with someone for one single then moved on for another. This brainstorm yielded Never Never under the banner of The Assembly with Feargal Sharkey, he of The Undertones teenage-kicking fame.

And that was it. Lord knows what his relationships were like in those days.

Then something happened. He met a lad called Andy Bell, a kind of cross between Alison Moyet and Jimmy Somerville. It worked, big style, and Erasure was born. Mind you, it wasn't instant. 1985's debut album Wonderland was pretty much a commmercial disaster and went quite unnoticed in a pop landscape that was overkill in new acts. It wasn't until the year after, when this baby's chorus hit the radios:

What followed was a string of uber-camp synthpop hits that lasted well into the 90s. Blue Savannah is widely regarded as one of the best pop songs ever:


Although, for my money, Drama! remains their high point:

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