There are many things for which the Swiss are justifiably famous. Cuckoo clocks, Army Knives, cheese with holes, bank accounts, triangular chocolate (with triangular honey from triangular bees), hiring Celine Dion* to win the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest and, of course, rolls.
One thing for which the Swiss aren’t particularly famous is critically acclaimed popular music.
Needless to say however, as with all things, there are exceptions and our exception today arrives in the form (or forms) of Boris Blank and Dieter Meier, known collectively as Yello with their classic 1983 EDM (as it now has to be legally called) album, ‘You gotta say yes to another excess’.
By law (‘The electronic popular music duo Act of 1979) all 1980s electronic duos had to have one genius musician (Boris) and in Yello’s case he was paired with a millionaire international industrialist (Dieter). Have you ever noticed that industrialists only ever seem to come in millionaire international guise? There never seem to be any penniless parochial ones.
‘You gotta say yes to another excess’ arrives with more than a hint of fabulously flippant Belgian electronic music pioneers, Telex and a considerable dash of German pace-setters, Kraftwerk. In fact in one place on side 2 (the fantastic ‘Pumping Velvet’ to be precise) the Trans-Europe Express passes so closely by that you may fear that you’re standing too close to the edge of the platform. Having acknowledged these influences (or possibly ‘inspirations’) the album also succeeds in standing alone – it’s one of those albums that nobody else could have made.
The album opens with the three better know tracks,
1. The monumental ‘I love you’
2. One of the best and least appreciated electronic tracks of the 1980s, the bittersweet ‘Lost again’
3. ‘No more words’ which, if I didn’t know better (and I do due to the fact that he was a 16 year old footballing apprentice at Newcastle United at the time) I’d swear was rounded off by the inclusion of a young Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne shouting ‘Soopacool, Soopacool’ in his best Dunston accent.
An album that’s barking and brilliant in equal measure, other tunes of particular note are the combination of ‘Great mission’ and the title track that close side 1 in such a unique fashion and the side 2 opener ‘Swing’ with one of the world’s only known examples of electronic tap-dancing.
When the histories of 1980s music are written, Yello, unfairly, barely merit a footnote. When I finally get around to writing my own history of 1980s music (you think I’m kidding don’t you?) you can rest assured that they’ll feature much more prominently.
Label – Mercury
Year – 1983
*Celine Dion fact of the day – Celine is the youngest of 14 children..