Revisionist history has been very kind to Yaz because their music didn't get a lot of playing time in the US when this was released. The album peaked at #92, spending 32 total weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and the singles didn't break the Top 40. In issue 381, Rolling Stone gave it a lukewarm 3 star review:
Upstairs at Eric's is one of those maddening albums with a lot of good ideas but only a few great cuts. ...[it] could have set a synthpop benchmark; as it stands, it's just another good album that should have been a whole lot better.I think that's fairly accurate, but the good stuff isn't just good, it's fantastic, so this album rightfully deserves the respect it would later gather. Rolling Stone would later place this album at #89 on its list of The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time. While the singles didn't exactly burn up the pop charts, two of them, Situation and Don't Go, both topped the dance chart in '82. Earlier this year, I ranked this as the 33rd best album of 1982 and had this to say:
You wouldn't think that pairing a soulful singer with synths and a LinnDrum would be as good as this turned out to be. Not appreciated here in the US until much later. Groundbreaking and influential. The album cover is one of my faves, too.These days, it seems that the singles from this album, particularly the echo-drenched synth intro of Situation, are used in numerous tv ads (e.g., esurance, TurboTax, Nintendo, Honda) and appear on many '80s compilation discs, probably because the sound immediately takes the viewer or listener to that decade. Situation also was a trendsetter for much of today's EDM; it even has a break followed by a drop that seems formulaic these days but wasn't in '82. Enough can't be said about Moyet's powerful voice, which separated this album from similar synthpop of the time.
I like the cover so much that I'm going to give a shout out to photographer Joe Lyons who shot the picture in his London studio.
I'd just shot some furniture for a furniture designer, and got paid with the furniture. I chose dummies and started work—a fortuitous series of events. I felt that the hi-tech furniture worked really well with the rough look of the room, and I put the cake—which was actually the top of my wedding cake—as a focus on the table. [source]
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #92
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #97
Tracks: Situation is my favorite, followed closely by Only You, Don't Go, and Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I). I'll usually skip Vince Clarke's studio experiments I Before E Except After C and In My Room.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None. I didn't have this album in 1982, and I can't remember when I picked it up.