All-Time Albums: #22

Yello_Stella

YELLO Stella
(1985)

Desire 3:42 (UK single, did not chart)
Vicious Games 4:20 (UK single, did not chart)
3 Oh Yeah 3:04 (UK single, did not chart)
4 Desert Inn 3:30
5 Stalakdrama 3:05
6 Koladi-Ola 2:57
7 Domingo 4:33
Sometimes (Dr. Hirsch) 3:35
9 Let Me Cry 3:30
10 Ciel Ouvert 5:26
11 Angel No 3:07

This was the duo’s fourth album, but they were still only marginal figures on the UK pop scene of 1985. The previous LP, You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess, had opened a few doors for them via minor hits Lost Again and I Love You. Yet while the music press warmed to their unique fusion of kitsch European glamour, surrealism and home-made electrobeats, Yello were still viewed by the general public as a bit strange. A couple of weird Swiss blokes making silly noises. Ohhhhhh Yeahhh.

Revisionsim at this point would be easy. I could claim to have recognised their genius all along, and owned all their records on release. The truth was it took 1986’s Goldrush single to turn me on to Yello, courtesy of their appearance on Channel 4’s The Tube. But that was only one aspect of their sound; the hypnotic, repetitive bop with daft voices and oddly catchy refrains. Boris and Dieter were far more accomplished and diverse than I had ever given them credit for.

So here we have Stella, which I showed no interest in back then, now just outside the Top 20 albums I have ever heard in my life. And its main single, Vicious Games, which again somehow managed to leave me unmoved in 1985, has become one of my most-played and absolute favourite records of all-time. Ohhhhh Yeahhh.

1987’s One Second (the LP with The Rhythm Divine on it) was my first Yello album, and there’s really not much between them to be honest. If anything, One Second is merely a refined version of Stella, in the same way Stella is a less frenetic, bizarre version of You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess. That album may have Dame Shirley Bassey and Billy MacKenzie on vocals, but as Yello (guest) singers go, I seem to stan for the wonderfully named Rush Winters who graces several stellar Stella tracks…not only Vicious Games but the extraordinary Angel No.

Desire could possibly have invented the Pet Shop Boys of Please, its stately metronomic pace and deadpan narration a dead ringer for West End Girls. Oh Yeah would be the one track everybody surely knows, fabulous and ridiculous in equal measure.

By this stage in their career, however, Boris Blank was becoming more sophisticated with the soundscapes and textures he created; the cinematic Desert Inn, Stalakdrama and Ciel Ouvert showed a way forward for Yello beyond the bops with silly voices.

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