by Rona Topaz
In recent years, North London’s Adele Adkins has gone from Brit School graduate and Jamie T (remember him? no? ) contemporary to one of the most successful female vocalists of her generation. She has sold in excess of 15 million albums and her songs Someone Like You and Rolling in The Deep have quickly joined the exhaulted lexicon of what are known as pop standards. But attention must also be paid to the woman who laid the groundwork for Adele ‘s success-Alison Moyet.
Adele herself rode the crest of a wave of post-Winehouse jazz/blues singers-and there were many, some of whom survived (Paloma Faith) while others faded from view (V V Brown, anyone?) But despite an ill advised (in my opinion anyhoo) cover of a Bob Dylan song, To Make You Feel My Love (written as an apology for hitting wife Sarah-keep your “winds of change” Robert, zero tolerance says I) Adele’s album 19 lay the foundation for the phenomenal international success she achieved later with her follow up, 21. Hmm. Can’t wait for 60!
Basildon punk and aspiring rock/blues shouter, Genevieve Alison Jane Moyet was born in the early 1960’s to an Anglo-French family, and attended high school with one Vincent Clarke. The latter went on to join Depeche Mode, and after being signed to Daniel Miller’s Mute Records, Clarke got itchy feet and left the band, saying he wanted to work with a female singer as a duo. Despite placing an advert in a national music paper, Melody Maker, he ended up collaborating with Moyet, who decided to use their first song, Only You, as a demo to try to get into a blues band.
Much to her great shock, Only You was released by Mute and went to number 1. Like it or not, Moyet was now half of a synth pop duo who later inspired the likes of Soft Cell and Pet Shop Boys.
After two very successful LPs, the first of which, Upstairs at Eric’s, gave the name to the legendary club in Liverpool, the band called it a day, not least because of Moyet’s unrequited feelings for Clarke (chronicled in Ode To Boy) Despite a healthy solo career in the ’80s Moyet never became the international star Adele is today. But vocally and appearance wise, they are undeniably similar, so why is this the case?
My theory is this: Moyet suffered with stage fright, and in the early days, a lack of stage etiquette -she had a punk-ish habit of insulting the audience when they didn’t respond as she wanted them to. Having seen her in concert more than once, although her vocals were near to flawless her stage presence was almost non existent. Only in a smaller venue her personality, shy and reserved though she may be at times, was allowed to flourish.
Adele was never backward in coming forward and her bracing honesty and down to earth nature is at odds with her vocal gifts, which makes her all the more endearing to her fans. I also feel that attitudes have progressed to a degree since Moyet’s era , and we are more accepting of a larger woman on stage (yay)
So in the (heavyweight-sorry, couldn’t resist!) battle of the divas, Adkins takes the crown, but we must always consider and appreciate the ones who laid the groundwork for her-the now almost frail (!) Alison Moyet.