Record Review: Yello – She’s Got A Gun

Do It Records | UK | 12″ | 1982 | DUNIT 18

Yello: She’s Got A Gun UK 12″ [1982]

  1. She’s Got A Gun
  2. The Evening’s Young
  3. There Is No Reason

I was a fairly early convert to the music of Switzerland’s Yello. I was listening to WUSF-FM’s Friday night New Wave program and they chanced to play the Ralph 7″ of Yello’s “Bimbo” single and it grabbed me right by the collar and it shook those metaphoric lapels, but hard. I immediately began buying their wondrously strange, often cinematic music. I first came across the Ralph LP of “Claro Que Sí” and didn’t look back as I snatched up anything in my path. By 1983, the band caught the attention of WEA in the UK and Elektra in the States, and they made the leap from territorial indies to the majors. But until that point, the band’s releases were all over the map on smaller labels. This is one such release.

“She’s Got A Gun” was a gloriously noir-esque excursion from the band’s second album, “Claro Que Sí.” The evocative music dates from the band’s time as a three piece, with Dieter Meier handling vocals and lyrics, Boris Blank on synths, with the band’s personal Eno being Carlos Peron, who provided tapes and effects. Peron left the group in 1983, and the band’s sound changed; moving closer to the mainstream, but I imagine once Blank acquired a Fairlight, they all saw the writing on the wall. For the time of this single, the sound was still largely analog and thrilling.

Yello’s secret weapon has always been guitarist Chico Hablas, who add a dollop of smooth sustain to the proceedings here.  The Continental sounds of accordion fit well amid the wooshing analog synths and Peron’s sound FX make even a traditionally wonderful Yello video something of a redundancy; the song itself already is a video. The whistling hook will stick with you like glue, once heard. Through it all, Dieter Meier convincingly paints a picture of erotic obsession with the song’s titular dark heroine. He sounded like he could teach Bryan Ferry a thing or two about suavity. Surprisingly, this wonderful song was only a single in the UK territories as released here by the Do It Records label. The label enlisted Jim Cherry, who also did the cover art for the “Claro Que Sí” album, to whip out the Dr. PH Martin’s dyes for the cover here.

The single’s B-side first features “The Evening’s Young,” which was given a video treatment, though it seems to have been a released single in exactly zero territories. Dieter Meier is almost rapping as he details the sameness and tedium of the subject’s predicament. The grinding synths drive home the hopelessness of the protagonists’ plight. I especially love the middle eight where Hablas’ incongruously riff rocking guitar gets pounded back down in the mix by the relentless synths.

The final B-side is the reason why I popped for this single, since it was the only of the two tracks not on “Claro Que Sí.” “There Is No Reason” is possibly the finest Yello B-side I’ve ever heard, and one of my favorite songs ever by the band. This was a song that the band wrote for the soundtrack to Dieter Meier’s film “Jetzt Und Alles” [“Take It All” – 1981]. While the song on the soundtrack features the band with actor Richy Müeller singing, on this record it’s just Yello.

The early rhythm box chugs away while Meier creates a scenario of a band giving a show where they invite a person from the audience to “get up on stage and show us what he’s made of,” echoing the scene in the film where the song takes place. This reminds me of what Meier termed “action singing” where he fronted for bands and improvised lyrics without pre-planning in his younger days. This gives the song a thrilling edge where the listener gets the idea that anything could happen, but that was a hallmark of Yello, and a large part of what made their music so appealing. Shockingly, this track has never made it to digital, even when the DLX RMs of Yello’s catalog surfaced in 2005.

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8 Responses to Record Review: Yello – She’s Got A Gun

  1. Echorich says:

    I knew Yello from their Ralph Records releases. I was subscription member to Ralph and got a lot of crazy releases, memorabilia and the like from the label for a number of years.
    Yello was certainly entertaining – crazy rhythms, over the top vocals and analog synths to pleasantly scramble your mind. They sat well with Tuxedomoon and MX-80 Sound, but you could tell they were meant for a bigger audience – certainly looking for one.
    Oh and Bostich from the debut Solid Pleasure was the blueprint for rave techno some 8 or 9 years early. It’s kind of amazing that a few inner city kids from Detroit and Brooklyn were listening and built the moster that Boris and Dieter imagined.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – “Solid Pleasure” is one of the most creative albums I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. It’s up there with “Here Come The Warm Jets” on a shelf that is only big enough for two albums! It literally creates a unique world for me.

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  2. ronkanefiles says:

    Not the least obscure Yello UK 12″, certainly. I wonder what the Do It label made of what Yello delivered. The Mothmen and Anthony Moore are the only other artists on Do It that I am aware of. And isn’t Anthony Moore (of Slapphappy) in Jetzt Und Alles as well? (Mothmen came from On-U Sound).

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      ronkanefiles – Did you know Do It was Robin “M” Scott’s label? I remember the early Adam + The Ants [non-hits] were released on that label, including the original version of “Dirk Wears White Sox.” Looks like Mikey Dread and Roogolator were also on the label, among others. It looks like they had a licensing deal with Ralph artists. Snakefinger and Renaldo + The Loaf also figure in their releases. As for this record’s obscurity, I live in the southeast. Do you know how many copies I’ve ever seen of much of my collection? The answer is one – the copy I bought. This record is no exception.

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  3. peteykins says:

    Oh! Hello, my name is Peteykins, and I, too, am a Yello fan. Well, up to a point, anyway. I think the 3-piece did the best stuff, and the exit of Carlos Peron obviously resulted in a lower-wattage, more commercial (in kind of unacceptable ways) band.

    And boy do I agree with you about Chico Hablas being their MVP. I would add to that Beat Ash, their occasional drummer.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      peteykins – Welcome to my side of the digital fence! Yello were always better with a larger mix of musicians. “Solid Pleasure” is the bomb, but I’m okay with “Stella” as an example of their glossy best. It got too clinical when it was finally down to the two of them. I’ve heard only one album past “Baby” [“Pocket Universe” – I think] and while I paid only $1.00 for it on La-La in 2006, I immediately traded it back out as it was definitely not a keeper.

      Chico Hablas and Beat Ash grounded the music of Yello, paradoxically allowing them to get further out there with a real drummer and guitarist giving the band a powerful framework to react against. Boy howdy, when researching this post, I finally ran across the sole Chico Hablas album! I bet that one’s nice to hear!

      And all readers of this blog should loiter frequently at peteykin’s awe-inspiring Princess Sparklepony blog since it has been must reading for me now well over four of your Terran years. It’s the best mélange of pop culture, catty political commentary, vintage cartooning, Ernie Bushmiller worship, and The Godlike Hair of Condoleezza Rice® to be found at one E-Z, convenient location on the web! It makes me laff… a lot!

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  4. Gavin says:

    I adore Yello and this is my favourite song of theirs,in particular the live version which has popped up on various releases.I have this 12″ single as pictured-love the sleeve,it perfectly captures the mood of the song.
    I agree that their albums became a case of diminishing returns,though I do like “Baby”,especially as I met Dieter in London and he signed my vinyl copy and drew a cartoon of Boris on it.
    Their collaborations with Billy Mackenzie are stunning,my favourite being “Snowball”.I have yet to find a copy of “Jetzt und Alles” on LP,though I have a few songs from it-the best being the Joy Ryder tracks.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – The live version of this is truly magnificent. It had such poise. It is a primary regret of my life that I only became a Billy MacKenzie fan in 1990 in spite of having read about The Associates for a decade by that time -and – having owned all of MacKenzie’s collaborations with Yello [and B.E.F.!] from day one. The thing was, MacKenzie was such a powerful vocalist I tended to discount his artistry without even hearing it. Sure, I enjoyed “Goldrush” but I put that down to Yello. Usually, people who sing that well don’t have much in the way of artistic ideas. Lots of big voiced pop singers have very little going on upstairs, and this notion kept me from dipping into Associates. Well, and the fact that I never saw any of the records in local stores even as imports. Proximity was how I bought all music until 1985 and the mail ordering line was crossed. It was only when a promo CD of “Popera” was in the bins on its release in 1990 at Park Ave. Discs that I picked it up. Popped it in a CD player. Put the headphones on and went straight to “White Car In Germany.” With a title like that, it had a LOT to live up to. Not only did it wildly exceed my high level of expectation [this was usually a fatal stance] but it was in fact, the finest possible song that could ever hold such a title.

      I have two friends with the “Jetz Und Alles” OST. I’ve heard it once when it was released, and once about 10 years ago. I’ve not seen a a copy myself, but it’s a nice pseudo NDW OST for Meier’s film.

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