Yello carried on where Devo left off, with their early 80s electronics, synths, songs and a maverick, some would say totally screwball, approach to pop. They arrived at Stiff with a substantial following from the 1979 album Solid Pleasure and its timeless electro-chunk Bostich.
Toronto journalist Jo Clark is the first to admit they’re difficult to pigeonhole. “Too whimsical for techno purists,” he says, Yello are “too straight for Pet Shop Boys acolytes, betraying insufficient craft for Cabaret Voltaire snobs, and simply not danceable enough, Yello are an acquired taste…”
I Love You (BUY 176) couldn’t have been more 1983-futurist, with limited copies cut as a 3D picture disc - with free 3D glasses of course - but it narrowly scraped the UK chart, peaking at number 41. Its follow-up, Lost Again (BUY 191) was doomed as a result, only reaching 73. A bunch of Stiffs? The cover of their classic album for the label, You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess (SEEZ 048) tackled the point head-on. It was the first of the band’s LPs to run a diagonal flash across the corner and a hole-punch-style logo – record store markings for a straight-to-bargain bin release.
The project went down well in the US, though with Trouser Press declaring You Gotta Say Yes… as “exceptional,” I Love You as a “bizarre concoction of whispered vocals, pulsing electronic beats and squealing tires” although admitting that “with the departure of Peron, the band lost its more eccentric sonic impulses…”
I Love You was Yello’s parting shot as a trio, when Carlos Peron (tapes and samples) split from Boris Blank (keyboards and percussion) and Dieter Meier (vocals). But Blank and Meier took Yello on to greater things across the next 25 years, collaborating with Billy MacKenzie and Shirley Bassey along the way. Nowadays Meier is a daring conceptual artist, best known for his March 1994 ‘commemoration-in-advance’, a plaque that can be found just outside a railway station in Kassel, Switzerland that reads “On March 23, 1994 between three and four in the afternoon, Dieter Meier will be standing on this plaque.”