Review: “One On One” by Yazz (CD, 1994)

Today’s POP RESCUE from a loveless future, is the 1994 second album by YazzOne By One, but will the only way be up, or does it need to Learn some more tricks? Read on…

Yazz's 1994 album 'One On One'.
Yazz’s 1994 album ‘One On One’.

It’s no surprise that Yazz looks like she’s having a migraine on the front cover of this album, given the struggles she went through to release a second album. Label politics saw her record at least one full second album, only for them to be shelved, after her huge success with 1988’s album, Wanted.

After far too long, she re-appeared here on Polydor, with an 11 track album, with several covers in place. The singles from this album are far and few between, but that aside, let’s give this a listen.

Some breathy synths lead us into first track, Have Mercy, which opens sounding very much musically like Eternal’s album-opener and hit Stay. Yazz’s vocals shine here, and she’s sounding far more mature than she did on her debut. It’s quite a nice song.

Again it feels like we’re in Eternal territory with second track Calling 2 U. This one’s more up-beat, and Yazz gets to show off her vocal power and range perfectly. This should have been a single.

Child follows this and it seems that Yazz is joined by a male vocalist here, but they go uncredited in the artwork, although there is a credit to Chris White for his saxophone playing. This is a soft, gentle song, and the vocal combinations of the leads and the backing singers, set against the soft saxophone and beats are delightful.

Titular track One On One follows, beginning with what sounds like a cheap Bontempi demo sequence. This gives away though before the verse starts. This song is a plodder, and whilst it once again allows Yazz to show off her vocal power and range, the song is pretty dull.

Next up is her single How Long with Aswad. This is a cover of the 1974 track by Ace, and it gave the somewhat unlikely collaboration a UK single that stalled at #31. It’s a nice enough and pretty faithful to earlier versions (particularly from 90s band Undercover) but it doesn’t really break new ground other than it introduces the male/female vocal duet.

This is followed by Back In Love Again which is stripped down with Yazz tenderly singing alongside keys, and joined by some warm backing vocals. I could imagine this on a Whitney album.

Some funky guitars lure us into next song Baby Talk, and this lifts the tempo again. The vocal harmonies remind me a little of En Vogue during the chorus. This song steadily builds its layers as it goes, but then drifts off again without peaking.

Everybody’s Got To Learn Some Time follows this. This song would become more successful in the hands of Baby D the following year (1995), than it had been the first time around for The Korgis in 1980. Baby D’s version was very different to this – with Yazz delivering a much more mellowed and soulful track which acted as one of the album’s singles. However, it stalled and only reached #56 in the UK.

Legendary songwriter duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David‘s track Look Of Love is the ninth track. This is a mid-tempo version, complete with flute that drifts in and out as lightly as Yazz’s vocals here. Sadly, this gives us a pretty weak cover.

Live Your Life is the penultimate track and it sounds somewhat like it’s a sibling to previous hit single Fine Time. Overall, this is quite a nice song, and Yazz sounds a bit closer to her old self here.

The album closes with mid-tempo finger-clicking number That’s Just The Way It Is. The song doesn’t really tread any new ground that earlier songs did – vocally and musically. It’s nice enough, but forgettable.

Yazz and Aswad sing lead single ‘How Long’

Verdict

Over all, I’m glad that this album exists, but gone are the days of the high energy party world of Wanted, with all its excited videos and plethora of remixes. Instead, we’re definitely deep into the comfy knitwear, and pilates on Wednesdays years, and that’s a shame.

In theory, this should have been the 4th album released, which would have showed Yazz 5 years on from her initial success, and allow for the more mellowed and mature sound. Instead, we’re left with a familiar name but a totally different sound – perhaps a victim of having made albums that have yet to emerge, and being shunted around labels.

There are some really nice moments here, but given that Eternal had recently emerged, I can see how Yazz’s credible mature effort was left on the shelf.

Rated 3 stars - Give it a go!
  • POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1994 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £3.04 from WorldOfBooks.

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