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Birth of a diva
on 25 October 2000
It's a testament to the strength of Alison Moyet's first solo album that, all these years later, her music is still measured by it (which is a bit unfair, given the quality of her two best and, bizarrely, unavailable albums, "Hoodoo" and "Essex". But I digress...). "Alf" deservedly sold by the shedload and firmly established Alison Moyet as a great soul diva. Indeed few singers can come close to her ability to convey emotion without resorting to histrionics.
Following the demise of the influential Yazoo, the public's great expectations were met big time with "Alf", which is accomplished, assured and irresistable. Only three tracks were released as A-sides in the UK ("Love Resurrection", "All Cried Out" and "Invisible") but there were at least two further potential smash hits here in the shape of the groovy "Honey For The Bees" (subsequently covered by American soul star, Patti Austin) and the gorgeous ballad, "For You Only". The closing track, "Where Hides Sleep", raises goosebumps with its ethereal harmonies weaving and waltzing over a swaying rhythm track. The rootsy "Steal Me Blind" is probably closer to what people expected of Alison and the lyric reflects her comments in a contemporary interview where she mentioned that some of her friends treated her like a bank.
Producers Tony Swain and Steve Jolly left their mark on this album and, overall, the synth-based sound is probably closer to the Yazoo sound than Alison might have liked. Certainly this fan was expecting something a bit rawer than "Alf" (Alison finally delivered on this with her masterpiece, "Hoodoo"). Still, with so many great songs, it's impossible to fault this collection. Maybe some day Sony will please us all by re-mastering this album and including the rare B-sides "Baby I Do", "Hitch Hike" and "Don't Burn Down The Bridges". For now, this is a mid-price must-have. Treat yourself.