Happy Anniversary: Yaz, “Nobody’s Diary”

Friday, May 9, 2014
Happy Anniversary: Yaz, “Nobody’s Diary”

31 years ago today, Yaz – or Yazoo if you’re from the UK – released the first and only single from their second and final studio album, You and Me Both.

A duo consisting of vocalist Alison Moyet and keyboardist Vince Clarke, Yaz came into existence after Clarke – who’d just left Depeche Mode – responded to an ad that Moyet had placed in a UK music magazine, although they’d actually known each other since they were pre-teens. Their debut album, 1982’s Upstairs at Eric’s, earned them two top-10 UK hits (“Only You” and “Don’t Go”), while both “Don’t Go” and “Situation” topped the U.S. Dance charts, putting them in a very good place indeed, commercially speaking. Indeed, when You and Me Both was released, it actually proved to be a bigger hit in the States than its predecessor, hitting #69 versus #92. Meanwhile, “Nobody’s Diary” went to #3 in the UK and once again found the band topping the U.S. dance charts.

So why did Yaz call it quits after their second album? Because, frankly, Clarke hadn’t wanted to do a second album in the first place, and he ultimately only did it because his publishers said that he wouldn’t be doing his reputation any favors by walking away from a second band within a year of leaving Depeche Mode.

In a 2008 interview with The Independent, Moyet described Yaz as being more like an arranged marriage than a proper group. “I like to be affectionate, but I couldn't make him warm to me,” said Moyet. “It was frustrating because I knew that he would like me if only he was open to it. He was, I think, sad at the time after leaving Depeche and remote, a bit angry, but it was all internalized. Whereas I was this disaffected, slightly aggressive ex-punk rocker where nothing was internalized. I was probably quite difficult to be around. He didn't speak until he said, ‘I don't want to do this anymore.’"

Interview for the same piece, Clarke didn’t exactly disagree with Moyet’s recollections. “I think I was definitely intimidated by Alison,” he said. “She had a big personality and she was quite vocal, whereas I'm more of a sulker. The fact that we never talked, never socialized together, meant that when problems came up we didn't know how to communicate and sort things out. It seems strange but we really were just working all the time. I loved being in the studio so much that the thought of leaving to go out for a drink seemed like wasting time. I got quite good at using synthesizers, but I was crap at talking. Also, we were only about 21. It led to paranoia.”

Even though it’s only the anniversary of “Nobody’s Diary,” we thought we’d offer up You and Me Both in its entirety, partially because it kicks off with that song, anyway, but also because, due to Upstairs at Eric’s having more hits, it’s often been forgotten over the years. It shouldn’t be, though. It’s at least as good as its predecessor, and – truth be told – it might actually be a bit better. But we’ll let you be the judge.