Oh, funny, I was just thinking of reviving this wonderful thread. Welcome to the land of The Associates! Some of us have been here from the start, others wandered in blindly over the years but know this - no one leaves. And my appreciation of the sheer uniqueness (and overused word when it comes to music but it really applies here) just deepens as time goes on. I was just listening to "Double Hipness" yesterday and shaking my head, both at what's there and what could have been had the reunion continued full-on.
― Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 15 August 2011 20:40 (1 year ago) Permalink
yeah def very interested now, esp to check out stuff dan just posted about, i guess i'm kinda coming in at the end of the band it sounds like
― are you ready for a thing called prog? (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 15 August 2011 20:47 (1 year ago) Permalink
Not at all -- very early on! The bandname essentially petered out much later in Mackenzie's career when he finally decided to let it go in favor of trading under his own name; the key partnership with Rankine did dissolve only after a few years together, though, so in terms of that you can say Fourth Drawer was essentially square in the middle.
― Ned Raggett, Monday, 15 August 2011 21:01 (1 year ago) Permalink
No, you're near the middle of the beginning! After Sulk Alan Rankine left and Billy kept on for years with different producers and not as good results. Some people love that stuff, I certainly think there are some gems in there, but I definitely prefer the Rankine era.
ie what ned said
― dan selzer, Monday, 15 August 2011 21:03 (1 year ago) Permalink
There is so much space for discovery in their songs and albums. They are all like majestic alien halls you can wander down forever. I have been on an Associates kick for months and it'll keep going because their songs are so expansive. I still haven't listened to any of the post-Rakine stuff.
― Abbott, Tuesday, 16 August 2011 02:37 (1 year ago) Permalink
Abbott, that is one of the best descriptions of them I've ever read. :-)
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 16 August 2011 03:10 (1 year ago) Permalink
why have I not posted itt? jeeez
― dayo, Tuesday, 16 August 2011 03:16 (1 year ago) Permalink
Thought I ought to mention that Tom Doyle's excellent Billy MacKenzie biog The Glamour Chase is due for reissue at the beginning of next month: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glamour-Chase-Tom-Doyle/dp/1846972094/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313487770&sr=8-1
― Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Tuesday, 16 August 2011 09:43 (1 year ago) Permalink
Very cool indeed (and Bjork over Bono as the forward writer any day so hurrah for that; is that the only revision, though?).
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 16 August 2011 12:36 (1 year ago) Permalink
I think there are some other revisions to the text but not major ones.
― Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Tuesday, 16 August 2011 12:46 (1 year ago) Permalink
The bit at the end about the songs only now found in dusty second hand shops can now be thankfully updated, at least.
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 16 August 2011 13:24 (1 year ago) Permalink
I still vividly remember the fist time I heard "White Car in Germany" in college. I'd checked out the LP from my college radio station's library, and I was listening on headphones in my dingy dorm room since my roommate was sleeping. It was definitely due to them being talked about on ILM, too. Those first few totally alien synth sludgenotes, that cough syrup tempo ("is this the wrong speed?"), the way it kind of zombily jerks into that stately melody, and then Mackenzie's unreal voice rising up out of it. It was a complete and total shock to the system, and unlike anything I'd ever encountered. Still gives me chills to think of that initial experience...
― Clarke B., Tuesday, 16 August 2011 14:29 (1 year ago) Permalink
That's great that The Glamour Chase is being reissued, it's such a great read that totally made me fall in love with their music and Billy as a person.
Please forgive this long-winded post but Billy is my favourite singer ever and one of the few artists I get really carried away about.
I would say The Affectionate Punch, Sulk and Fourth Drawer Down are the absolute essentials. After that things get a little more tricky as there are plenty of amazing songs spread out over some really average albums.
Perhaps is mostly great, it's very polished and a lot more straight forward than the first three albums. Helicopter Helicopter and Schampout are the first songs he did that are just really bad. The second side is a lot stronger as it has Breakfast which is an incredible ballad with one of his best vocals. The Stranger In Your Voice has one of the best and most ridiculous string arrangements in a song I can think of. The Best of You might be my favourite track, would love to hear the version they did with Annie Lennox.
The Glamour Chase is mainly bland late 80's pop but it does contain Empires of the Heart which sounds like it should have been a Bond theme. The reissue with Perhaps on the other disc is worth having for some of the extra tracks, mainly Take Me To The Girl and The Rythm Divine which he did with Yello.
Wild & Lonely is his worst album, terrible production ruins some fairly good songs especially on Just Can't Say Goodbye, Fire to Ice and the title track. Some of the songs are just so half-baked, good production couldn't help them.
Outernational from 92 is a lot better but hardly essential. It was released as his first solo album but is really just the same as the previous three albums, Billy working with various session musicians. He was really obsessed with the dance music at the time so he tried to make an album in that style but of course the best song is the ballad, Baby. His vocal on that song is really stunning, it should have been a huge hit.
Beyond The Sun is an album of songs he had been working on in the last years of his life. This is easily his best album after the first three Associates albums. He was mainly into dance music again at this point but this is mainly full of beautiful ballads especially Nocturne VII which is a heartbreaking song. Give Me Time is yet another song that would have made a great Bond theme. Three Gypsies In a Restaurant is the only dud on the album, sadly that was the stuff Billy was into making at that time but he was never one to go for the safe choices with his material.
Eurocentric is another posthumous release. It's a good collection, a mix of dance songs and some more really moving ballads. The ballads are much more enjoyable. His version of Wild is the Wind is the highlight, but Liberty Lounge is a great 70's glam influenced gem.
The Radio One Sessions albums are both excellent. Party Fears 2 is my favourite song ever but the track A Severe Bout Of Career Insecurity is probably the song that sums up everything that was amazing about Billy as a performer. It sounds like he made the lyrics up as he went along and the way he says, "And It Goes To Show All You Want Is Above The Knee" is just Godlike. A lot of the other versions on here are really great to hear, the slow version of Take Me To The Girl in particular is very charming.
The Double Hipness coompilation is such an interesting mix of their material. The early demos are so odd and full of sax and bizarre lyrics. I still think The Cardiacs must have been taking notes from those songs. The slightly later demos are really good, showing how quickly they started writing great material. A lot of these ended up fleshed out on The Affectionate Punch but my personal favourite is Geese which is one of the simples and most catchy tunes they ever wrote. The second disc is also very mixed, there's some good stuff on there that he did with Alan Rankine but it sounds quite dated.
A few other tracks that are worth mentioning would be Pain In Any Language that he made with Apollo 440 in 1996, which is an epic electronic ballad. Ice Cream Factory released in 1982 as Ice Cream Factory Mackenzie Sings Orbidoig is another one-off single he did which is a really thrilling single. This is available on the Singles compilation put out a few years ago.
So as I said at the beginning of this rambling post: The essentials are The Affectionate Punch, Fourth Drawer Down, Sulk, both the BBC Radio One Sessions, Beyond The Sun, most of Perhaps and probably Double Hipness too. I would totally agree with the previous posts that there is so much to discover, buying their albums and singles was one of the most exciting periods of my life.
― Kitchen Person, Wednesday, 17 August 2011 00:36 (1 year ago) Permalink
I have to disagree with Kitchen Person. I feel VERY strongly that , first: all of the songs on the ablum are top notch material. It's totally solid from a songwriting sense. While i feel the album was most definitely mis-produced overall I think Fire to Ice is on the best pop singles I"ve ever heard by any producer. Just a few listens on headphones and it becomes a relentless infection. Also the dissing of "Wild and Lonely" is unjust as well because it was the song i most immediately connected to on an emotional level. If one listens past the cheesy sequencing that seems to sit out front on most of the tracks, one hears Billy's exotic taste in soundscapes and also Billy's singing is sultry and very story-focused on this album . I would say it was the greatest album what I would say a little patience has rewarded me a lot on that album.
― tednor, Wednesday, 7 March 2012 08:50 (1 year ago) Permalink
Lovely T-shirt for Billy MacKenzie devotees everywhere: http://www.redbubble.com/people/andrewnimmo/works/4189594-billy-mackenzie
They use American Apparel gear so nice cuts and feel. Mine got here (across the pond... in fact across a couple of ponds) in a matter of days.
― Lil' Kim Philby (Call the Cops), Thursday, 19 April 2012 09:53 (1 year ago) Permalink
Apparently based on a picture the photographer took of Billy in Dundee in 1985.
― Lil' Kim Philby (Call the Cops), Thursday, 19 April 2012 09:55 (1 year ago) Permalink
The Glamour Chase, a movie about Billy's life, is on youtube. So good!
― Dale, dale, dale (Abbbottt), Monday, 14 May 2012 00:06 (1 year ago) Permalink
Yeah, great documentary. The book it's based on is excellent.
― Ned Raggett, Monday, 14 May 2012 00:31 (1 year ago) Permalink
what's with the dog statues? didn't notice til the end. i didn't know much about mackenzie, but that was quite good. too bad about him and rakine. and him and his mom... it's unnerving that her death could destroy him that completely...
― zingzing, Monday, 14 May 2012 04:46 (1 year ago) Permalink
They're whippets, and as the doc shows, he loved them dogs.
― Ned Raggett, Monday, 14 May 2012 04:58 (1 year ago) Permalink
Never seen the documentary before. Just watching it reminds me all the reasons why he's my favourite ever popstar. Some great footage and the use of Nocturne VII at the end is truly heartbreaking.
― Kitchen Person, Monday, 14 May 2012 17:10 (1 year ago) Permalink
I need to sit down one of these days to watch that Glamour Chase doco.
Anyway, have been on a bit of an Associates Youtube binge lately and came across this vid of Billy performing "You Only Live Twice". Had no idea he covered this - so great!
amusing bit at the end with Billy flirting outrageously with a very young, very smug-looking, obviously uncomfortable Jonathan Ross lol
― Roz, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 17:00 (8 months ago) Permalink
I'll back up all the repping for the 'Glamour Chase' book upthread. I first read it 10 years ago just after first moving through to Dundee, was odd but nice reading a book that mentioned places I walked by every day - I lived a couple of streets from the Lyon Street flat, for example, and worked alongside people who'd known Billy to some extent.
― michaellambert, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 19:06 (8 months ago) Permalink
Haven't seen if I still have my copy of the book. Not seen it in ages, and it may have been among a load of books stolen as I moved out of a place 10 years ago. Which means I should know one way or the other by now.WAs interesting anyway, the beginning where he's wound up involved in the Howard Hughes case while travelling in the US. through the events surrounding the recording of the singles compiled on 4th Drawer Down etc etc very very good bio.
I think the lps have drifted out of print on cd again which is a major shame, the 00s reissues of Sulk, 4th Drawer Down & Affectionate Punch are all very worth getting hold of. I never got Double Hipness which i had meant to remedy but I don't think you can get it any more.
There was a compi video made of the band's tv appearances on the Yahoo list somewhere about 10 years ago that I wound up with a faulty copy of but should be good if you find a decent copy. I think bits of what's on it may be up on youtube anyway. Would like taht stuff in goood quality though. Wish somebody would release an official dvd compi with taht material on though.
& ALan Rankine is one half of the creative part of the band during the period that really counts. I think he's teaching at a Scottish university now.
― Stevolende, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 21:11 (8 months ago) Permalink
Double Hipness is amazing.
― dan selzer, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 21:49 (8 months ago) Permalink
Rankine teaches at Stow College, or did the last time I checked.
There was a showing of "The Glamour Chase" at the DCA in Dundee a couple of years back with a Q+A with Rankine (mentioned upthread), who mentioned that they'd just got the rights back to the recordings, not sure if all or just the early ones. No sign of anything happening with that though.
― michaellambert, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 21:51 (8 months ago) Permalink
And just in case anyone is in the general vicinity of Dundee on Fri 10th May, a showing of The Glamour Chase to accompany the exhibition 'What Presence! The Rock Photography of Harry Papadopoulous' which will be running at the McMannus Galleries.
― michaellambert, Monday, 29 April 2013 21:46 (1 month ago) Permalink
I'm not one to believe in family curses or anything but what's happened to the Mackenzie family over the last fifteen years has been nothing short of wretched. After Billy's mother's death and then his suicide, his father passed on, I believe due to natural causes, but now three of his siblings have died due to accidents or other circumstances, the latest being a younger sister:
I mean this is just awful.
― Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 12 June 2013 17:58 (1 week ago) Permalink
That is terrible.
― curmudgeon, Wednesday, 12 June 2013 19:05 (1 week ago) Permalink
I found a cheap copy of the Glamour Chase recently in a charity shop. Glad I got it since I wasn't sure if I still had the other copy. & now reading this thread I already wasn't sure if I still had it whenever that was. & don't remember seeing it since.
Think this copy has a different sleeve too. Though I can't recall what the other one was like exactly.
― Stevolende, Wednesday, 12 June 2013 20:10 (1 week ago) Permalink