Upstairs at Eric's is the debut album by British synthpop duo Yazoo (known in the US and Canada as Yaz), released in the UK on Mute Records on 20 August 1982. It was produced by the band and E.C. Radcliffe, with assistance from Mute label boss Daniel Miller on some of the tracks. Named after producer Radcliffe's Blackwing Studios where the album was recorded, Upstairs at Eric's was preceded by two top three UK singles, the ballad "Only You" and the more uptempo "Don't Go". The singles' success helped Upstairs at Eric's reach number 2 in the UK Albums Chart and gain platinum certification for 300,000 copies sold in the UK.
|Upstairs at Eric's|
|Studio album by |
|Released||20 August 1982|
|Studio||Blackwing Studios, London|
|Genre||Synthpop, new wave|
|Producer||E.C. Radcliffe and Yazoo|
|Yazoo (Yaz) chronology|
|Singles from Upstairs at Eric's|
Against the group's wishes, "Situation", originally the B-side of "Only You" in the UK and Europe, was released as the band's debut single in the US and Canada, where a remixed version of the song by DJ François Kevorkian was a hit in the clubs and reached #1 on Billboard's Club Play Singles chart. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart "Situation" was a minor hit in the US, peaking at #73, while in Canada it made the top 40, peaking at #31. The North American version of the album subsequently substituted the remixed version of "Situation" for the UK album track "Tuesday". Upstairs at Eric's reached #92 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US and #49 on the Canadian album chart.
Recording and compositionEdit
Following the success of their debut single "Only You", Clarke and Moyet rapidly recorded the album to maintain their high profile. As Clarke's only previous experience of a recording studio had been Blackwing Studios in south-east London, where he had made Depeche Mode's debut album Speak & Spell, his immediate thought was to record Yazoo's album there as well: he said later, "I didn't know of any other studios, so I just assumed that Blackwing was the only studio I could record at". However, when the duo arrived at Blackwing they found that not only was Daniel Miller unavailable to produce the album, contrary to Clarke's expectations, but the main studios had already been booked out during the daytime by Fad Gadget, another Mute label act. Instead Clarke and Moyet had to record the album in the early mornings with studio owner Eric (E.C.) Radcliffe overseeing most of the recording process, turning up around 5 or 6 a.m. and working through until 11 a.m. each day in whichever of the two studio spaces were available at the time.
On the 30th anniversary of Upstairs at Eric's in 2012 Clarke told The Quietus that there had been no grand plan for the album's creation: "We just came together and it was a bit of a mish-mash really. There was no concept or theme running through the album; we were just messing about in the studio. Part of the charm of that album is a naivety. There really wasn't a profound concept that was running through the recording. I didn't really know what I was doing in the studio and Alison hadn't much experience of being in a recording studio, so everything was new. We'd make one sound and we'd think it was great and just stop there and wouldn't make any more sounds. It wasn't like we were continually honing or over-producing songs because everything at the time sounded fresh. That's why a lot of the tracks only have eight or nine elements to them."
Clarke's compositions "I Before E Except After C" and "In My Room" explore the use of cut-up vocals, including his own spoken word voice. "I Before E Except After C" features both Moyet and the mother of producer Eric Radcliffe separately reading out the instruction manual for one of the pieces of studio equipment, with Moyet struggling to keep herself from laughing.
Moyet later described how her song "Goodbye 70's" had been inspired by her disillusionment with how the late-1970s punk scene had turned out, saying, "'Goodbye 70's' is about punk and not caring how you were dressed, and then I discovered that so many of my friends that I'd thought it all really meant something to just saw it as another trend... That's what 'Goodbye 70's' was all about, about how sour the whole thing became."
The album cover depicts two mannequins in a sparsely furnished loft, facing each other over a table, with the lower part of the dummies' bodies seated on chairs while the upper portions are perched on the edges of the table. It was shot by photographer Joe Lyons at his first photo studio in north London, and he described how he had set up the shot:
"I'd just shot some furniture for a furniture designer, and got paid with the furniture. I chose dummies and started work—a fortuitous series of events. I felt that the hi-tech furniture worked really well with the rough look of the room, and I put the cake—which was actually the top of my wedding cake—as a focus on the table."
The original UK CD release of Upstairs at Eric's in 1986 featured a close-up of part of the original album cover. Another photograph from the same session was used as the cover for the Yazoo box set In Your Room in 2008.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Philadelphia Inquirer|||
|The Village Voice||B+|
From contemporary reviews, Melody Maker hailed Upstairs at Eric's as "an album of rich, dark passion, forever burying the hoary old moan that electronics and synthesizers will never be any good because they don't have a button on the front that says 'emotion'".
Hanna Lynn of NME was more critical, feeling that "Upstairs at Eric's is an LP of trial and some error, and it shows all the signs of a collaboration that's still in a promising infancy. The writing is divided almost equally between the two, and at their best each acts as an excellent foil to the other... A little too often, though, this LP speaks of two disparate pasts rather than one new Yazoo facing the future." Ken Tucker of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the album a one star out of five rating, referred to Yaz as "stiff-voiced monotony fans" and saying that the group were "even more pretentious than most, working the Lord's Prayer into [their] tedious synthesizer rhythms."
From retrospective reviews, David Jeffries of AllMusic compared the album with Clarke's other debut with Depeche Mode the previous year, stating "While Speak and Spell is, by far, the more consistent record, Upstairs at Eric's is wholly more satisfying, beating the Depeche record on substance and ambition, and is light years ahead in emotion... The clumsier experimental tracks make most people head for the hits collection, but to do so would be to miss the album's great twist... Like its curious cover, Upstairs at Eric's presents a fractured, well-lit, and paranoid urban landscape."
Upstairs at Eric's was placed at number 6 on the NME critics' list of albums of the year for 1982, while "Only You" was listed as the number 7 single and "Don't Go" as the number 14 single that same year. The album was also named as one of Sounds magazine's top twenty albums of 1982.
- "Don't Go" (Vince Clarke) – 3:08
- "Too Pieces" (Clarke) – 3:14
- "Bad Connection" (Clarke) – 3:20
- "I Before E Except After C" (Clarke) – 4:36
- "Midnight" (Alison Moyet) – 4:22
- "In My Room" (Clarke) – 3:52
- "Only You" (Clarke) – 3:14
- "Goodbye 70's" (Moyet) – 2:35
- "Tuesday" (Clarke) – 3:22
- "Winter Kills" (Moyet) – 4:06
- "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" (Moyet) – 4:40
- North American releases of Upstairs at Eric's features François Kevorkian's remix of "Situation" instead of "Tuesday". European CD versions append the "Situation" remix and "The Other Side of Love" to the above track listing and omit "I Before E Except After C". The 2018 UK box set and 2019 LP reissue contain the original LP track listing above.
- Daniel Miller – additional production and noises on "Don't Go", "Too Pieces", "In My Room", "Only You" and "Situation"
- "Eric's mum" (the mother of producer Eric Radcliffe) – extra chit-chat on "I Before E Except After C"
- D. Davis – extra chit-chat on "In My Room"
Certifications and salesEdit
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
|United Kingdom||20 August 1982||Mute||LP||STUMM 7|
|cassette||C STUMM 7|
|United Kingdom||1986||Mute||CD STUMM 7|
|United States||1987||Sire||9 23737-2|
|Europe||1990||Mute/Intercord Ton||INT 846.803|
|United Kingdom & Europe||9 June 2008||Mute||Remastered CD||CDXSTUMM7|
|United States||24 July 2012||Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab||Remastered LP||MOFI 1-020|
- "Record News". Melody Maker. London, England. 21 August 1982. p. 4.
- British Phonographic Industry searchable database
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- Watson, Don (28 May 1983). "What's It All About, Alfie?". NME. London, England. pp. 6–7.
- SOS Magazine, December 1991
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- Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
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- Cranna, Ian (2–15 September 1982). "Yazoo: Upstairs at Eric's (Mute)". Smash Hits. p. 25.
- Christgau, Robert (30 November 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- Colbert, Paul (28 August 1982). "Review: Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". Melody Maker. London, England. p. 13.
- Hanna, Lynn (28 August 1982). "Review: Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". NME. London, England. p. 32.
- "Vital Vinyl". NME. London, England. 25 December 1982. p. 29.
- "Albums of the Year". Sounds. London, England: United Newspapers. 25 December 1982.
- "The Top 100 Albums of the Decade". Record Mirror. London, England: United Newspapers. 25 November 1989. pp. 28–29.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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- "Dutchcharts.nl – Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
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- "Swedishcharts.com – Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- "Yazoo | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- "Billboard 200, retrieved from "Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's" Awards at AllMusic". Billboard 200. United States. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- "British album certifications – Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Upstairs at Eric's in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American album certifications – Yaz – Upstairs at Eric's". Recording Industry Association of America.
- Volvic, Mitja (12 January 1985). "Pervasive Economic Slump Hits Yugoslav Industry Hard". Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 2. p. 57. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 21 April 2020.