Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Flying Pickets 'Only You'

Chart Peak: 1 (5 weeks)


As it turns out, there's a big scratch on this track. Which is a pity, but at least there are other ways to hear it nowadays. As Now 2 only covers part of the year, there was no hope of repeating the 11 Number One singles on the first volume, and we only four, carefully rationed with one on each side of the album. And this was the oldest of them, sitting on the top of the chart over Christmas 1983 and into the new year.

'Only You' is (perhaps aptly) Vince Clarke's only chart-topper as a songwriter. It was also the first ever a capella recording to top the singles chart. Unbeknownst to my younger self, the Flying Pickets were a group of politically motivated actors; the exact motivation for performing vocal-only versions of contemporary hits isn't that clear to me, but it doesn't seem to matter when this is so well done. Trying to render an electronic pop song without instruments might be at risk of novelty, but they're smart enough to steer clear of that and recognise 'Only You' as the brilliant song it is, capturing the aching emptiness of the original Yazoo single (and the promo video shot in the semi-abandoned pub only seems to amplify this). If I had to choose, I still think the Yazoo track is slightly the better version, but this is entirely worthy of comparison.

Also appearing on: Now 3
Available on: The Best of the Flying Pickets

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