When Yazoo split after just two albums it was inevitable that Alison Moyet – the Essex girl with the incredible voice – would launch a solo career and she did it to huge success with 1984’s Alf album. Switching from the synth-pop she’d made with Vince Clarke to a mainstream pop sound fashioned by the writing/producing duo of Steve Jolley and Tony Swain (who’d worked chart wonders for Bananarama and Spandau Ballet), Moyet sang the hell out of hits like Love Resurrection, All Cried Out and Invisible on a long-player that sounds just as fresh and bright today.
The deluxe edition remastering helps, but three-plus decades later the songs still stand up as pop classics and the fact the whole thing was put together in a mere three months (All Cried Out was apparently written in just ten minutes) lend it a vibrancy that Moyet, Jolley and Swain would recapture on Raindancing three years later.
Big choruses that demand to be sung along to don’t come more insistent than Is This Love? and Weak In The Presence Of Beauty but their singer wasn’t as enthralled by the album as her fans and on Hoodoo she went for a rawer, more aggressive sound – like Kylie’s switch from pop princess to IndieKylie but with more anger and a brassier soul sound.
It’s a great album but it alienated many fans and displeased the record company, who put their foot down with follow-up Essex and insisted Moyet go back into the studio for a do-over. That’s why it often sounds like her heart isn’t in it, although Getting Into Something is a forgotten gem and the original laidback version of Whispering Your Name is just lovely.
Given a remix and a Dawn French-starring video, the latter was a hit and that version is included among many bonus tracks. In fact each album in the set is a 2-disc jobby with an abundance of remixes, rarities, demos and live cuts housed in casebound books, making them an absolute must for Alf-ettes.
The deluxe editions of Alf, Raindancing, Hoodoo and Essex are out now on BMG, alisonmoyet.com