She was “All Cried Out” at “That Ole Devil Called Love”, but “Is This Love”? Is this Alison Moyet…?
Geneviève Alison Jane Moyet (b.1961) was one of THE biggest singers of the 1980’s, first as one half of Yazoo and then with a string of hit singles and multi Platinum albums of her own, she was a British star the world fell for, for the whole decade. Born in Essex, Alison sang in three punk-rock bands of the late 1970’s-early 80’s before being noticed by Depeche Mode founder, Vince Clarke. Clarke left the group in 1982 and with Moyet, formed the synth-pop duo, Yazoo. They released their debut single, “Only You”, in March and it wasted no time in breaking the top ten in many countries.
The song peaked at No.2 in the UK and broke the US singles chart at No.67. Their follow up, “Don’t Go”, made the top three in the UK and No.1 on the US dance chart whilst charting top ten from Austria to Australia. Both songs came from their debut album, “Upstairs At Eric’s”, which became Platinum certified on both sides of the Atlantic. The album featured another US dance chart topper, “Situation”, and the UK chart hit “The Other Side Of Love”, before the end of the year. Yazoo wasted no time in writing, recording and releasing their follow up, “You And Me Both”, in 1983 along with the single, “Nobody’s Diary”, which gave them a third US dance chart topper and a third UK top three hit. The album topped the UK chart but almost as soon as Yazoo had started, they finished.
With just one single from the second album, Clarke moved on, briefly to form The Assembly in 1983 and then Erasure the following year, now the project that has consumed the past 35 years of his life. Moyet was signed by CBS who wanted to develop her as a solo artist with chart success in America in mind. Her first single, “Love Resurrection”, produced by Steve Jolley and Tony Swain, better known for their work with Bananarama, came in the Summer of 1984 and made No.10 in the UK and just barely made it to No.82 Stateside. More successful internationally, was her second single, “All Cried Out”, which made the top ten in most parts of Europe.
She released her debut album, “Alf” – her punk band nickname, in November. The album would top the UK chart and be certified quad Platinum for sale of more than 1.2 million copies. “Alf” would feature three more singles, “Invisible” (UK No.21, US No.31), her version of Billie Holiday’s 1944 classic, “That Ole Devil Called Love”, which Moyet took to No.2 in the UK and the German only released “For You Only” (No.7), in 1985. That year Alison performed at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium and after a short break, she began work on her second album.
The first taster of that album came at the end of 1986 with the more electro-pop sounding “Is This Love?”, which was a huge global hit, making the top ten in more than twenty countries. She recorded “Weak In The Presence Of Beauty”, a song originally recorded by British group Floy Joy earlier in 1986, but was not a hit. Together with producer Jimmy Lovine, Alison took her version into the top ten, just before her album, “Raindancing”, was released in April 1987. While “Raindancing” saw less interest in America, it topped the charts elsewhere and attained double Platinum status in the UK.
Two further singles, “Ordinary Girl” and “Sleeping Like Breathing”, were released during 1987, but these were less successful, although Alison returned to the top five at the end of the year with her version of Dick Haymes original 1945 recording of “Love Letters”, made famous by Kitty Lester in 1961. Moyet equaled Lester’s UK chart position of No.4 that Christmas. A remix of Yazoo’s “Situation”, not released commercially in the UK, saw both her and Clarke return to the top 40 in December 1990, reaching No.14, the first and last Yazoo UK chart hit and Alison’s last for some time.
Moyet began work on her third album in 1990 but took a different direction, more in line with her punk-rock roots of the late 70’s. The first single, “It Won’t Be Long”, stopped short of the top 40 in March 1991, while the album, “Hoodoo”, released the following month, could only achieve Silver status. The ballad, “Wishing You Were Here”, flopped big time while the third and final single, “This House”, just made it in at No.40. Neither the singles nor the album were received with any attention whatsoever in America, causing her record company to insist that her next album MUST be more commercially pop.
“Falling”, the first effort from that new album was released in late 1993, missing the UK top 40, although more successful was her version of Jules Shear’s 1983 recording of “Whispering Your Name”, which Alison released in 1994. The song returned her, as a solo artist, to the UK chart for the first time in six years, reaching No.18 as well as being a minor hit in Australia. Her fourth album, “Essex”, followed in April that year and would make a brief appearance on the US album chart. The singles “Getting Into Something” and “Ode To Boy” completed the quartet of releases from the album, but failed to generate much interest.
Alison fulfilled one more release with CBS, the “Singles” collection of 1995, which topped the UK chart and sold over 600,000 copies, before leaving the label. She joined the smaller Sanctuary label, a division of BMG the following year, although time was well spent crafting her first entry for them, which would take another six years. “Hometime” was released in August 2002 and would put her back in the UK top twenty as well as earning a Gold certification for 100,000 copies sold there. The album featured the singles “Should I Feel That It’s Over”, “Do You Ever Wonder?” and “More” and represented a good start to her time with the label.
In 2004, Alison recorded an album of cover versions, “Voice”, which featured the likes of “Windmills Of Your Mind”, “Alfie” and “Cry Me A River”, to name just three. Hardly surprisingly, “Voice” was a big success, putting her back in the UK top ten for the first time since “Raindancing”, seventeen years earlier. Moyet provided guest vocals on Moby’s 2006 hit “Slipping Away”, the year before she released her seventh album, “The Turn”, her first for label W14 Music as Sanctuary had by that time, been wound up. The album featured the charting single “One More Time”. W14 Music was short lived and by 2012, Moyet had moved to Cooking Vinyl, a label that has its roots in 1986, but had a flare for signing big names of the 80’s and 90’s with a view to reigniting their career.
Moyet teamed up with Guy Sigsworth (Seal, Madonna) for her first recording, returning to her synth-pop roots for the album, “The Minutes”, released in 2016 and crashing into the UK album chart at No.5, her highest charting studio release for 26 years and including the well received singles “When I Was Your Girl”, “Love Reign Supreme” and “Changeling”. Similarly well received was her 2017 follow up for Cooking Vinyl, “Other”, which Moyet returned to working with Sigsworth, resulting in a No.12 charting album in the UK, following the ‘teaser’ tracks “Reassuring Pinches” and “The Rarest Birds” in June of that year.
Alison has since recorded with a-ha and released two live albums, along with expanded editions of all her studio albums, pre-Cooking Vinyl, all of which have been lapped up by her fanbase. Alison posted a very personal message to her fans on her website on Christmas day 2020 in which she talks about ‘going away’ to deal with her long battle with ADHD. For how long, we have not been told (read the transcript here), but hopefully it won’t be long before she graces the airways with new music and in complete and full state of mind, body and soul.