For some reason I haven’t reviewed a lot of Yello round here, and that’s definitely a shame. They’re daft, but they’re always fun, and they really seem to have a good idea of how to make pop.
Their seventh album Baby (1991), released 25 years ago this week, after a brief and odd deviation with Homage to the Mountain, really gets going properly with the extremely silly Rubberbandman, which came with a yellow rubber gimp face mask on one of the versions of the single.
After the opulence and actual hit singles of the preceding album Flag (1988), Baby takes them back a little further from their electronic influences, towards jazz and honestly I’ve no idea what else, and so Rubberbandman has a totally daft vocal which reminds me a lot of the musical interludes from the TV shows Shooting Stars. Jungle Bill is a bit less daft, and a bit more reminiscent of the preceding album.
Dream Club is one of Yello‘s more filmic pieces, taking us to New York in a long-gone decade, and then throwing a bit of groaning at us. Who’s Gone? is pleasant, if a little unremarkable. Then Side 2 opens with Capri Calling, co-written and performed with Billy Mackenzie, which is glorious.
My favourite track on here is the sublime Drive/Driven, which superficially is just a list of word-plays, but musically it’s so beautifully charged that I’m not sure it’s really open to any criticism. When Yello get things right, they get them very right indeed, and the French-style middle section is sublime.
On the Run is a slightly daft freestyle piece, which carries us forwards on what seems to be either a very short or a particularly fast-moving album. Blender is a bit daft too, and somewhat forgettable, which gives us a spare moment to speculate on what on earth is going on on the album cover, which seems to find the moustachioed duo hiding unconvincingly behind a curtain. It’s far from the worst sleeve ever seen, but it’s a little odd to say the least.
All the odder, in fact, when you consider the follow-up album, 1994’s Zebra, which sees the duo hidden in black and white among a zebra stripe – perhaps an obvious move, but a lovely sleeve to accompany a much more convincing album.
Baby closes with a longer track, Sweet Thunder, which is a pleasant instrumental to finish with, and the album is over already. It’s hard to be critical, because this album does have some great moments, and it has all the classic Yello ingredients. It’s just not quite them at their best.
You can still find Baby here. There’s no special edition.