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Six of pioneering Swiss electronic duo Yello’s classic albums are set for reissue through Universal Music. The band’s game-changing debut, Solid Pleasure, plus Claro Que Si, You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess, Stella, One Second and Flag will all be back in circulation through Universal Music from October 14.
Yello is a name that is associated with the development of electronic pop music like no other. For four exciting decades now, the Swiss duo has been shaping pop culture and providing new impulses again and again with their synthetic field research experiments. In mid-October, the pioneering early work of the cult formation will be released in remastered form as strictly limited vinyl reissues of the first six Yello albums. Each release features the original album and an exclusive bonus 12” with sought-after remixes, rare collector’s tracks and unreleased live recordings, each based on the tracklists and artwork of the original.
The machine-rapped vocal acrobatics of “Bostich (N’est pas)”, the sexy-sonorous chorus from the dada-disco megahit “Oh Yeah”, the gripping high-speed drama of “The Race” or the psychedelic trip-pop song “Waba Duba” from the last studio album “Point” – with their instantly recognizable signature mix of electronic beats, collage-like pop elements and associative wordplay, Yello have long been an integral part of global pop culture.
More info on the Yello website or at Discovermusic.
The Swiss avant-garde pop dandies have been working in the same way for years: Inspired by the experimental non-conformity of early British industrial formations such as Throbbing Gristle, The Normal or Cabaret Voltaire, sound architect Boris Blank creates musical sound spaces with irrepressible curiosity, which lyric eccentric Dieter Meier, guided by the artistic promise of freedom of Dadaism and cool jazz icons such as Sonny Rollins, wanders through in wonder and equips with the appropriate vocal interior.
A perfect symbiosis between fan cult and feuilleton, which has earned Yello a firm place on the Olympus of electronic pop music. Together with Universal Music, the duo is now looking back on their complete works and releasing the first six Yello albums as exclusive 2LP bundles with hand-picked bonus tracks.
In an elaborate state-of-the art process, the old original tapes were remastered in the highest possible resolution to reproduce the sound as authentically as never before. In addition to the cult debut Solid Pleasure (1980) with the hit “Bostich”, the albums Claro Que Si (1981), You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess (1983), the Top 1 breakthrough Stella(1985), including the mega hit “Oh Yeah”, the legendary follow-up One Second (1987), from which the single “The Rhythm Divine” emerged, as well as the electro-pop milestone Flagfrom 1988, including the pop anthem “The Race” in a completely new sound shine.
An infant with a lizard mask – on their debut album Solid Pleasure, released in 1980, Yello already marked out for the first time the parameters between which the formation, consisting at the time of Dieter Meier (vocals), Boris Blank (keyboards, sampling) and Carlos Perón (tape effects), still moves artistically today. Driven by an almost childlike urge to discover and a sometimes tongue-in-cheek eccentricity, Yello experimented in every conceivable direction of electropop on early tracks like “Bimbo”, “Night Flanger” or “Coast To Polka”. In retrospect, Boris Blank describes Yello’s milestone in electronic music as a “concentrate of all the things that had been half-finished for many years”, from which the band’s first chart single “Bostich (N’est pas)” emerged, which climbed to number 23 in the American Billboard Dance Charts.
“This album could be considered the Ur-Yello record,” Blank continues. “Spontaneous, light-hearted and overloaded like a decorated Christmas tree. We tried to incorporate as many ideas as possible into each song. Stylistically, the tracks represent a conglomeration of what I was listening to at the time: From jazz like Herbie Hancock’s electronic Sextantalbum to the minimal sound of The Normal and The Residents. I was musically discovering the world and creating my own from all the influences.”
Unlimited possibilities, which you can also hear on the two bonus tracks: In addition to the original track list, the re-release of Solid Pleasure features “I.T. Splash” and “Glue Head”, the two very first Yello songs ever, which were recorded shortly after the band was founded during the first studio visit with Dieter Meier. Solid Pleasure is released as a 2LP bundle in black vinyl with the original tracklist plus a bonus 12” in colored vinyl.
“Boris Blank proceeds completely unsystematically,” Dieter Meier describes the artistic creative process of his congenial musical partner with a loving wink. “He works like a painter who starts with a flower at the bottom left of the canvas and slowly works his way forward. And after two or three years, suddenly a camel has emerged.”
Stylistic metamorphoses led to the second of the Yello albums, Claro Que Si that followed in 1981. On singles like “She’s Got A Gun” or “Pinball Cha Cha”, Yello continue to expand their experimental style on the one hand, but at the same time present themselves more structured and less convoluted with tracks like the opener “Daily Disco” or “The Evening’s Young”.
“Boris and I complement each other perfectly,” Dieter Meier continues. “He loves to live in his realm of synthesizers and other sound-generating devices, while I’m more of an airhead who comes into the studio in between when Boris is at lunch. I then listen to his wonderful sounds in endless loop and let myself be inspired. In his world, I’m just a guest who contributes something in a fantasy language as a naïve idiot.”
As a bonus, the re-release of Claro Que Si features a recording of an approximately 15-minute promo performance at New York’s Roxy Club in 1983, which Boris Blank still remembers vividly. “We were performing around 2am. Before our gig, the manager of the Roxy came up to us with a worried look and said they had confiscated a plethora of knives and firearms at the entrance. We then went on stage with a very queasy feeling and tried to stand as sideways to the audience as possible so that any bullets would hit our flank rather than our chest…”
Claro Que Si is released as a 2LP bundle in black vinyl with the original tracklist and a bonus 12” in colored vinyl with the recording “Live At The Roxy N.Y.. Dec. ’83”.
After the final departure of Carlos Perón, Yello released You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess in 1983, their impatiently awaited third album, which took the Swiss duo to No. 26 in the German charts and No. 13 in their native Switzerland. With the title track and the songs “I Love You”, “Let Me Cry”, “Lost Again” and “Pumping Velvet”, five singles were released from the eleven-track album, on which Yello further developed their reputation as one of the most unpredictable experimental bands in the electronic pop avant-garde. The album title is to be interpreted rather metaphorically, like so much in the large, playful Yello cosmos. While the formation moved in the same circles as Andy Warhol, Lou Reed or Jean-Michel Basquiat in hip New York clubs like the legendary Danceteria or the similarly infamous Roxy, Meier and Blank’s definition of “excess” was fundamentally different from that of the famous NYC party people.
“A wild time in which we were on the road a lot. But we never led a typical rock star life; any drug and alcohol excesses were always too blunt for Dieter and me,” says Boris Blank looking back on the third of the Yello albums. “I prefer to celebrate when a sound idea works and always let myself be surprised. That’s my personal excess. At the record release party in London, The Residents came on stage after us with their giant eyeball masks, while backstage a whole gang of Boris Blank lookalikes had gathered: all with brilliantine gelled back hair and moustache; tall, short, fat, thin. A strange feeling.”
You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess is released in black vinyl with the original tracklist, complemented by a bonus 12′ in colored vinyl with the tracks “I Love You (Dance Version)”, “Swing” and “Bostich (N’est-ce pas?)”.
Yello celebrated their global breakthrough in 1985 with the fourth album Stella, with which Dieter Meier and Boris Blank shoot to the top of the Swiss charts – making them the first local band to reach No. 1 in the CH charts. In Germany, the album enters the charts in 6th place and is awarded a gold record. Until then, Yello had been considered a well-kept insider tip, but now the entire pop world focused on the Zurich duo. With the mega-hit “Oh Yeah”, Yello left their mark on international pop culture for the first time: After the song, which was not originally planned as a single, entered the international charts, the hype took on a life of its own when “Oh Yeah” was featured on the soundtrack of the cinema blockbusters Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and The Secret of My Succe$s (1987), delighting an audience of millions worldwide. To this day, the song can be heard at regular intervals in cinema and TV productions such as The Simpsons and countless commercials.
“Boris played me an instrumental to which I wanted to think of absolutely nothing,” Dieter Meier recalls. “He asked me to imagine sitting on a beach while the sun was setting, the first martini was being served and one was slowly falling asleep. That’s how I came up with the exclamation ‘Oh yeah’ – probably the shortest Dadaist lyric in the history of pop music. When I enter America, customs always ask me if I’ve published anything known when I say ‘musician’. I always answer ‘Oh yeaaaaaaah’ and can usually go through immediately…”
Stella is released in black vinyl with the original tracklist, complemented by a bonus 12” in colored vinyl with the bonus tracks “Desire” and “Oh Yeah” (extended versions).
With the fifth album of their classic albums One Second from 1987, Yello continued the success of their predecessor. The album charted at number 11 in Germany, number 6 in Austria and number 4 in Switzerland, where it won a Gold Award. The singles “Call It Love”, “Goldrush” and the Shirley Bassey feature “The Rhythm Divine”, with which Yello celebrate their most prominent collaboration to date, are released from the ten-song album. Like their previous releases, the sound of “One Second” is characterized by ever-changing sonic architectures, musically sketched by the self-proclaimed “hunter-gatherer” Boris Blank in his studio in Zurich under the motto “no repetitions”.
“Boris opens up a new, surprising bag of wonders with each piece,” Dieter Meier describes the duo’s stylistic development. “Only when he’s finished with his backing tracks does the lyricist or singer step into action – in this case me – and get inspired by the sounds. The surge in popularity was a nice thing on the one hand, although neither Boris nor yours truly ever aimed for commercial success. The focus has always been that we both enjoy what we do”, as Yello demonstrate with tracks like “Moon On Ice”, “Santiago” or “Si Senor The Hairy Grill”.
“The recordings with Shirley Bassey were very short; an hour at most, she needed just three takes,” adds Boris Blank.
One Second is released in black vinyl with the original tracklist, complemented by a bonus 12” in colored vinyl with the tracks “Goldrush I”, “Goldrush II” and “She’s Got A Gun (Live At The Palladium N.Y.)”, which was recorded during a fashion show by fashion icon Azzedine Alaïa.
The crowning glory of the first re-release of the Yello albums oeuvre is the re-release of Flag from 1988. The duo’s sixth studio album entered the German and Austrian charts at 11th and 12th place respectively (both awarded gold) and enters the Swiss charts at number 3. While tracks like “3rd Of June”, “Blazing Saddles” or “Alhambra” presented themselves with an almost oriental relaxedness, the Meier/Blank team really takes off again with the mega-hit single “The Race”: The track shot to No. 4 in the German charts, No. 6 in Austria, No. 7 in the British charts and No. 6 in Switzerland. Even the album cover, designed by graphic artist Ernst Gamper, congenially implemented the special racing dynamics of the cult track, before “The Race” was used as a theme and trailer song for various international TV shows; such as the iconic theme tune of the German music show “Formel Eins”, with which a whole generation of music fans grew up.
“There were several versions of ‘The Race’,” Boris Blank looks back. “The two star magicians Marco Tempest and Midi Gottet asked if they could get a piece of music from me for the Magicians’ World Championships in New York. Dieter suggested taking the first version of ‘The Race’. At that time without horns and without engine samples. Later, another request came from the producers of ‘Formula One’. So I added a few more parts and made everything a little more dramatic. Only then did we get the idea to add vocals to the track and put it on the album.
“Flag” will be released in black vinyl with the original tracklist, complemented by a bonus 12” in colored vinyl with the tracks “The Race (12″ Mix)” and “Another Race”.