Upstairs at Eric's

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Upstairs at Eric's
Studio album by Yazoo
Released 20 August 1982
Recorded 1982 at Blackwing Studios, London
Genre Synthpop, new wave
Length 42:31
Label Mute
Producer E.C. Radcliffe and Yazoo
Yazoo chronology
Upstairs at Eric's
(1982)
You and Me Both
(1983)
Singles from Upstairs at Eric's
  1. "Only You"
    Released: 15 March 1982
    November 1982 (US & Canada)
  2. "Don't Go"
    Released: 5 July 1982
  3. "Situation"
    Released: July 1982 (US & Canada only)

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.

The album track "Midnight" was later sampled by Rex the Dog for his 2008 dance hit "Bubblicious".

Recording and composition[edit]

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.[3][4]

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."[3]

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 Eric Radcliffe's mother 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."[5]

Artwork[edit]

The album cover depicts two human dummies in a sparsely furnished and lit room, facing each other over a table, with the lower part of the dummies sat on chairs while the upper portions of the dummies' bodies are resting on 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."[4]

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.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[6]
Melody Maker very favourable[7]
NME favourable[8]
Robert Christgau B+[9]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[10]

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'".[7] 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."[8]

Comparing the album with Clarke's other debut with Depeche Mode the previous year, Allmusic said, "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."[6]

Accolades[edit]

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.[11] The album was also named as one of Sounds magazine's top twenty albums of 1982.[12]

In 1989 Record Mirror placed Upstairs at Eric's at number 35 on their list of the best albums of the 1980s.[13]

Track listing[edit]

  • Note: The title of the song "Goodbye 70's" has changed slightly from one version of the album to another – the original 1982 UK and Europe releases list it as "Goodbye 70's", while the UK CD versions from 1986 and 2008 have a slight alteration to "Goodbye '70's". All North American releases on vinyl, cassette and CD list the track as "Goodbye Seventies".

1982 UK LP & cassette release (and 2008 CD release)[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Don't Go" (Vince Clarke) – 3:08
  2. "Too Pieces" (Clarke) – 3:14
  3. "Bad Connection" (Clarke) – 3:20
  4. "I Before E Except After C" (Clarke) – 4:36
  5. "Midnight" (Alison Moyet) – 4:22
  6. "In My Room" (Clarke) – 3:52

Side two[edit]

  1. "Only You" (Clarke) – 3:14
  2. "Goodbye 70's" (Moyet) – 2:35
  3. "Tuesday" (Clarke) – 3:22
  4. "Winter Kills" (Moyet) – 4:06
  5. "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" (Moyet) – 4:40

1986 UK CD release[edit]

  1. "Don't Go" (Vince Clarke) – 3:08
  2. "Too Pieces" (Clarke) – 3:13
  3. "Bad Connection" (Clarke) – 3:20
  4. "Midnight" (Alison Moyet) – 4:21
  5. "In My Room" (Clarke) – 3:52
  6. "Only You" (Clarke) – 3:14
  7. "Goodbye '70's" (Moyet) – 2:34
  8. "Tuesday" (Clarke) – 3:22
  9. "Winter Kills" (Moyet) – 4:05
  10. "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" (Moyet) – 4:39
  11. "The Other Side of Love" (12") (Clarke, Moyet) – 5:21
  12. "Situation" (U.S. 12" Remixed by François Kevorkian) (Clarke, Moyet) – 5:45

1990 Europe CD release[edit]

  1. "Don't Go" (Vince Clarke) – 3:07
  2. "Too Pieces" (Clarke) – 3:13
  3. "Bad Connection" (Clarke) – 3:18
  4. "I Before E Except After C" (Clarke) – 4:40
  5. "Midnight" (Alison Moyet) – 4:19
  6. "In My Room" (Clarke) – 3:50
  7. "Only You" (Clarke) – 3:12
  8. "Goodbye 70's" (Moyet) – 2:36
  9. "Tuesday" (Clarke) – 3:20
  10. "Winter Kills" (Moyet) – 4:03
  11. "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" (Moyet) – 4:42
  12. "Situation" (U.S. 12" Remixed by François Kevorkian) (Clarke, Moyet) – 5:45
  13. "The Other Side of Love" (12") (Clarke, Moyet) – 5:19

US & Canada release[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Don't Go" (Vince Clarke) – 3:05
  2. "Too Pieces" (Clarke) – 3:12
  3. "Bad Connection" (Clarke) – 3:16
  4. "I Before E Except After C" (Clarke) – 4:39
  5. "Midnight" (Alison Moyet) – 4:18
  6. "In My Room" (Clarke) – 3:50

Side two[edit]

  1. "Only You" (Clarke) – 3:10
  2. "Goodbye Seventies" (Moyet) – 2:34
  3. "Situation" (Remixed by François Kevorkian) (Clarke, Moyet) – 5:45
  4. "Winter Kills" (Moyet) – 4:01
  5. "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" (Moyet) – 4:41

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel:

  • Daniel Miller – additional production and noises on "Don't Go", "Too Pieces", "In My Room", "Only You" and "Situation"
  • Eric's mum – extra chit-chat on "I Before E Except After C"
  • D. Davis – extra chit-chat on "In My Room"

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1982/1983) Peak
position
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[14] 49
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[15] 14
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[16] 9
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[17] 9
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[18] 11
UK Albums (OCC)[19] 2
US Billboard 200[20] 92

Upstairs at Eric's was awarded gold certification for sales of 100,000 copies in the UK on 16 September 1982, and platinum status for 300,000 sales in the UK on 18 March 1983.[2]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom 20 August 1982 Mute LP STUMM 7
cassette C STUMM 7
United States 1982 Sire LP 1-23737
cassette 23737-4
Canada LP 92 37371
Germany 1983 Mute CD 600015
France Mute/Vogue 600015/VG 651
United Kingdom 1986 Mute CD STUMM 7
United States 1987 Sire 9 23737-2
Canada CD 23737
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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media). 21 August 1982. p. 4. 
  2. ^ a b British Phonographic Industry searchable database
  3. ^ a b Freeman, John (23 August 2012). "Synthesizer Soul: Yazoo's Upstairs At Eric's 30 Years On". The Quietus. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Miller, Jonathan (2008). Stripped: Depeche Mode (3rd revised ed.). London, England: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-8477-2444-1. 
  5. ^ Watson, Don (28 May 1983). "What's It All About, Alfie?". NME (London, England: IPC Media). pp. 6–7. 
  6. ^ a b Jeffries, David. Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b Colbert, Paul (28 August 1982). "Review: Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media). p. 13. 
  8. ^ a b Hanna, Lynn (28 August 1982). "Review: Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". NME (London, England: IPC Media). p. 32. 
  9. ^ "CG: Yaz". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "RS: Yaz". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2008-06-11. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Vital Vinyl". NME (London, England: IPC Media). 25 December 1982. p. 29. 
  12. ^ "Albums of the Year". Sounds (London, England: United Newspapers). 25 December 1982. 
  13. ^ "The Top 100 Albums of the Decade". Record Mirror (London, England: United Newspapers). 25 November 1989. pp. 28–29. 
  14. ^ "RPM 100 Albums, January 29, 1983". RPM, Vol. 37 No. 22 (Canada: Library and Archives Canada). Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Top 100 Longplay, 18.10.1982". Top 100 Longplay (Germany: Media Control). Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  16. ^ "Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  17. ^ "Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  19. ^ "Yazoo | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  20. ^ "Billboard 200, retrieved from "Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric's" Awards at Allmusic". Billboard 200 (United States: Nielsen Business Media). Retrieved 2 December 2013. 

External links[edit]