After a few stormy years with Depeche Mode and Yazoo, Vince Clarke‘s third attempt at a group was The Assembly, formed with Yazoo‘s producer (and provider of the first album title) Eric Radcliffe. It was a short-lived project, which supposedly was intended to consist of collaborations with multiple vocalists, but after the follow-up with Paul Quinn failed to break the charts, Clarke moved onto Erasure, and the rest is history.
So the lovely Never Never sadly never made it onto an album. Released thirty-five years ago this week, barely a year and a half after Yazoo had disbanded, it peaked at number four on the UK charts. As a standalone hit, it’s largely forgotten now, but it’s worth remembering from time to time.
It’s a great song, for the first time on a Clarke production featuring some very audible acoustic guitar work, and also including some early pre-echoes of Erasure‘s early work. But the overriding mood here is of Yazoo‘s unfinished business – you can’t help but wonder whether Clarke wrote this intending that Alison Moyet would be delivering the vocal. Instead, it’s Feargal Sharkey who does the honours, and he does a great job.
Side B brings us the brilliantly syncopated instrumental Stop/Start. Again, this would have fitted perfectly on the tail end of Yazoo‘s imaginary third album, and it’s hard to stop thinking about that now, but there’s also a fairly different feel to this track that maybe would prevent it from fitting in quite so well with Upstairs at Eric’s and You and Me Both.
The 12″ version of the single just gives us two extended versions – Never Never gains a long introduction which honestly sounds exceptional, and Stop/Start also gets some extra bits at the front, although they don’t add a huge amount in this instance. They also seem to have left the radio on in the background for the extra part of this recording, for some reason.
It’s a short, compact single, with just two tracks on each format, but you have to wonder slightly what might have happened if an album had followed. Instead, Clarke found peace and sold millions of records as half of Erasure, and Never Never was largely forgotten.
The 1996 CD reissue of Never Never has long since fallen out of print, but you can still find it as a stream or download.