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  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Linear PCM Stereo
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  • 2 Music-only track
Alison Moyet - The Essential
Sony Music Video/Sony BMG . R4 . COLOR . 58 mins . G . PAL


When the driving force behind Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke, left the band just after the breakthrough success of their first album, Speak & Spell, it’s probably quite fair to say that the remaining members were shitting themselves. However, history now shows that Martin Gore took over the songwriting duties, lending a more sombre tone to the band that went on to bring much – joy isn’t quite the right word – erm, satisfaction to those with more of a tendency toward the maudlin side of life worldwide. History also shows that Vince was renowned for possessing somewhat itchy feet – having post-Depeche dalliances with Paul Quinn, former Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey with the fleeting, but very successful, The Assembly, a little combo called Yazoo (or Yaz if you’re a Yank) and then Erasure – where he finally seemed to feel comfy, most certainly to the delight of his partner in rhyme therein, Andy Bell. But let’s hark back to 1981 and Yazoo, for it was this little duo which introduced the world to Alison Moyet’s simply stunning vocal talents...

The first single from the duo, Only You, was enough to stop most people in their tracks - a fairly minimalist melange of nursery rhyme-styled synth doodles with a voice on top that left most people with a half decent ear simply gaping in wonderment. When the more upbeat Don’t Go followed, it proved a hitherto unheard by the masses versatility in her voice that floored people even more. The debut album, Upstairs at Eric’s, held more surprises, as did future singles such as The Other Side of Love, and notably Nobody’s Diary. It is most unfortunate then that none of these tracks appear on this video collection, especially as they were licensed for two similarly themed CD compilations.

What we do get, however, are videos for most of Alison’s solo singles, spanning the mid ‘80s through to 2001 - from the chart-fodder limelight to less prominent, but no less impressive, fare (intriguingly accompanied by an equally noticeable increase in self confidence). Once again looking at the history books we see that Ms Moyet became (justifiably) renowned as one of Britain’s greatest and most award winning female vocal talents, and no further proof as to why is needed than a quick peek at this compilation. From somewhat visually and aurally cheesy beginnings with the likes of Love Resurrection and Invisible, through bluesy, soulful, poppy and raunchier offerings, one thing is always present – that incredible vocal talent. Attached to images that sometimes enhance (the calling in of friends French and Saunders, the latter on Whispering Your Name (does anybody else remember our Ignatius Jones’ earlier – and brilliant – take on the track?) in particular proving a blast, the infectious silliness of Is This Love?, the appearance of her little boy for Weak in the Presence of Beauty, the autumnal psychedelia of Falling etc) and sometimes hinder (any of the clips from her solo debut album Alf just for starters), this collection is both a testament to the woman’s fabulous and enduring talent, and simply a must-have for any of her fans.

Track listing:

Love Resurrection
All Cried Out
That Ole Devil Called Love
Is This Love?
Weak in the Presence of Beauty
Love Letters
It Won’t Be Long
Wishing You Were Here
This House
Whispering Your Name
Getting Into Something
Solid Wood


The usual caveat for video clip compilations well and truly applies here – with those included running the gamut from quite horrific looking to virtually pristine. Whilst clips such as Invisible are overrun with grain that’s quite obviously unintentional, you can pop forward to something like the clip for the criminally underrated It Won’t Be Long and despite the rampant – and obviously intentional – grain, things still manage to be defiantly clearer. Earlier filmed clips also suffer from flecks and other invaders such as occasional scratches, there’s the odd jump here and there and some clips, in particular the one for That Ole Devil Called Love, feature a curious shimmer that is really quite off-putting. Naturally the video rating reflects these shortcomings, however please bear in mind that the latter half of the presentation presents us with little in the way of flaws at all.

The music is delivered in a choice of two formats – there’s a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, or a Linear PCM version for those who prefer things to sound how they were originally intended to. The 5.1 audio isn’t one which takes great advantage of the added avenues for sonic output, in fact the subwoofwoof scarcely gets a look in, and to be honest the PCM mix sounds much better on the whole. Synch is as good as it gets considering the video clip format usually involves miming, and there’s nothing in the way of gremlins to inhibit enjoyment of the music.

Whilst many music compilations such as this laugh at the concept of extras, refreshingly some effort has been made for The Essential Alison Moyet. Probably the most pleasing addition is a “conversational” audio commentary, featuring banter between Alison and a friend who seems to be named Deb. It has a tendency to be extremely gappy at times, however any fan should take much delight in all that’s imparted here, ranging from cringes to hair tips, information on musicians used over the years, song gestations and personal favourites as well as clips Alison considers “quite horrid”. Added to this is a live music clip from late 2001, featuring an appearance on the television programme The Lesley Garrett Show. Alison delivers a smooth take on the classic Cry Me a River accompanied by a sort of soulful, laidback jazz kinda musical vibe, all delivered with PCM stereo sound and 16x9 enhanced 1.78:1 vision. There’s also a discography featuring all of Alison’s solo albums, complete with track listings and brief loopings of audio accompaniment. Added to all this is a basic and pretty pointless web link (let me ruin the surprise, it’s www.alisonmoyet.com...), the always wonderful addition of lyrical subtitles and a rather curious photo gallery. Why curious? Well, there are two that are seemingly randomly selected, plucking images from a pool of around 40 and playing either of two bonus songs in their entirety - Our Colander Eyes or My Right A.R.M. (from Hoodoo). Most of the images are stills from video clips.

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  •   And I quote...
    "A testament to Moyet’s fabulous and enduring talent and simply a must-have for any of her fans..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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