Yaz: Upstairs at Eric's (1982)
Yaz (ok, I understand they were Yazoo back home in the UK, but for those of us who grew up with them here in the States they'll forever be Yaz) paired Depeche Mode refugee Vince Clarke with ace vocalist Alison Moyet, resulting in infectious synth-dance-pop distinguished by Moyet's unusually emotive, somewhat androgynous croon.
Single "Don't Go" remains the main attraction here, a song so infectious that even those of us more inclined towards the guitar end of the new wave spectrum couldn't help but fall in line. The bouncy "Situation" is nearly as great, while ballad "Only You," sort of a new wave "In My Room" (the Beach Boys track, not to be confused with the song actually called "In My Room" here, which isn't a fave) must have been the backdrop of countless make-out sessions for those of us growing up in the early 80s. Beyond that, "Bad Connection" is a decent enough pop song, shades of OMD, and the similar-sounding "Too Pieces" is ok; while "Midnight" highlights Moyet's vocal range, R&B filtered through Clarke's musical sensibilities.
I can't say it's essential start to finish; most of the rest doesn't really register, and I'd rather take the above-referenced songs and pool them with the stand-outs from the follow-up album (i.e. the easily as essential "Walk Away From Love") and call it a day. Still, it's one of those albums that everyone either had, or at least borrowed from a friend at some point, back in the day.
Here's the "Don't Go" video: