The Associates: Have the years been kind?

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Oh god I love this band. (Just finished listening to the first disc of Double Hipness in a long while.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 24 April 2005 19:11 (9 years ago) Permalink

Tum! Tra-la-la, tra, tra-la-la-la la-la...
Tum! Tra-la-la, tra, tra-la-la-la lum!

Ian Riese-Moraine has a grenade, that pineapple's not just a toy! (Eastern Mantr, Sunday, 24 April 2005 19:21 (9 years ago) Permalink

BAP DE LA BAP

(Though at this second I listen me to "Mona Property Girl.")

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 24 April 2005 19:44 (9 years ago) Permalink

I just played the first 2 LPs recently, first time hearing em in entirety, and hafta say B.McK's vocals annoy the krap outta me at least half the time... Good grooves tho.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 24 April 2005 19:47 (9 years ago) Permalink

The original version of The Affectionate Punch comes out on CD this summer, according to a forward from an Associates mailing list.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Sunday, 24 April 2005 19:53 (9 years ago) Permalink

Good, good...

Michael Dempsey gave a cryptic reference to further tracks for release at the end of his brief liner notes for Double Hipness, though I wonder if he was more referring to the still unreleased state of Affectionate at that point. Still though, hmm.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 24 April 2005 19:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

Oh and ARGH HOW GOOD IS THE START TO "TELL ME EASTER'S ON FRIDAY." I mean, the rest of the song as well, but that swirling high twirl of twisted sound might as well be end of nineties glitch bits as momentous/portentous intro without being stereotypically *either.*

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 24 April 2005 19:57 (9 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, the music for it's really pretty if you disregard the walloping stomp of John Murphy's drums (which I definitely enjoy, admittedly).

Ian Riese-Moraine has a grenade, that pineapple's not just a toy! (Eastern Mantr, Sunday, 24 April 2005 20:03 (9 years ago) Permalink

Recently got the BBC sessions as well, amazing amazing version of Waiting For the Loveboat. Just checked amazon and am confused because I coulda swore there was a singles CD comp w/ Ice Cream Factory on it, but the comp there doesn't have it. That's my fave. It does have Kites though, also wonderful.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Sunday, 24 April 2005 20:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

i pulled out sulk yesterday after reading the scotland chapter in sr's p-punk book, and good god i can't believe this EVER charted, however briefly. the whole album is on overload.

strng hlkngtn, Sunday, 24 April 2005 21:18 (9 years ago) Permalink

nude spoons EUPHORIAAA EUPHO-O-O-O-RIA-A-A-A-A!

(i love sulk, yes i do)

joseph (joseph), Sunday, 24 April 2005 21:33 (9 years ago) Permalink

I remember Simon getting really excited when I played Party Fears Two at my old party around the time he was starting his book, I think.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Sunday, 24 April 2005 21:45 (9 years ago) Permalink

i pulled out sulk yesterday after reading the scotland chapter in sr's p-punk book, and good god i can't believe this EVER charted, however briefly. the whole album is on overload.

It's absolutely astounding. Björk being a massive fan of Mackenzie's makes sense but in the Sugarcubes or solo I've never sensed her work to be quite as...*searches for the word*...careening, shall we say.

It's also a case where all the stories about the recording and the run up to it, what went into it, what they tried, etc. all make sense. You read PR guff all the time about how some band's third album (which Sulk sorta was if you count Fourth Drawer Down's singles comp as the second) is going to be the Experimental Shift in Style What Is Different or soundbites about 'there were no rules in the studio, we decided to come in fresh' or whatever and they create something with a boring drum loop and keyboard part. Then there's this.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 24 April 2005 23:08 (9 years ago) Permalink

some of the weirdest "pop" music ever made.

cutty (mcutt), Sunday, 24 April 2005 23:13 (9 years ago) Permalink

Hm, relistening to Perhaps all the way through for only the second time (hadn't heard it until the rerelease with Glamour Chase came out), I'm taken with how well it stands up -- it's certainly no Sulk, less chances taken or odd arrangements pushed to the limit, so splitting from Rankine was definitely no good thing. But there's still plenty of the off-kilter/quick rush present, and Mackenzie's singing if less gloriously extreme is quite beautiful regardless. The use of string sections at points is inspired, and the whole thing feels more like a glorious jumbling up of various ideas and 'genres' than what something like Wild and Lonely eventually was, a duller shell that simply was there for The Voice to sing through.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 25 April 2005 02:46 (9 years ago) Permalink

Just checked amazon and am confused because I coulda swore there was a singles CD comp w/ Ice Cream Factory on it, but the comp there doesn't have it

There's a double CD of singles WEA released last year with that and "Kites" on it.

Almost picked that up yesterday at Amoeba but it's a bit much for two songs, even with credit -- I did, however, quite happily find the first of the two BBC session discs used, which made me astoundingly happy. Also found one of the three archival rereleases of Billy's late solo stuff that One Little Indian put out -- the organization of it all is unclear, but the three discs are apparently an overview of everything that surfaced on Beyond the Sun, Memory Palace (the Haig collaborative disc) and Eurocentric, plus/minus some songs. Memory Palace has been rereleased with some extra remixes, so I'll skip that, but Transmission Impossible is what I snagged yesterday -- the more 'torchy' songs he did with Steve Aungle and others, I gather. The remaining disc is Auchtermatic, which I believe covers the more electronic/dance stuff with Aungle.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 1 May 2005 16:49 (9 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...
Gaffer tape
Amphetamines
Vacuum cleaner tubes
Coughing backup vox
Ripping off the major by selling previously recorded songs to them while releasing new tunes through Situation Two
Making up an extended ditty drunkenly in the shower that sounds like a commercial for Dial or Dove gone awry
Snare drums-only kit
That voice
That guitar work
The white-boy funk bass
The kaleidoscopic instrumentation
The royally messed up lyrical content
The pop sensibilities despite it all

Fucking hell, they just seem more and more amazing, and I only have Fourth Drawer Down and Sulk! I'm going to obtain the rest once The Affectionate Punch comes out -- it'll be a good time for a Billy Mac buying binge.

Ian Riese-Moraine is on toffuti break! (Eastern Mantra), Saturday, 21 May 2005 00:58 (9 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, the music for it's really pretty if you disregard the walloping stomp of John Murphy's drums (which I definitely enjoy, admittedly).
I meant by this that the walloping stomp countered the prettiness of the music because the drums sound so abrasive. Pleasantly so, though, and it brings an interesting contrast in result.

Ian Riese-Moraine is on toffuti break! (Eastern Mantra), Saturday, 21 May 2005 01:01 (9 years ago) Permalink

Wild and Lonely eventually was...a duller shell that simply was there for The Voice to sing through.

It's better than that, though. We should really do a late period Billy Mackenzie S/D...

I'd love to snag Transmission Impossible and Auchtermatic both — I don't know Outernational or Beyond the Sun, but Memory Palace was decent, not terrific. Eurocentric sounded great and got glowing reviews, but went out of print so quickly I wouldn't know. I actually really enjoyed some of the '93 Rankine reunion stuff on Double Hipness quite a bit — nothing like the original magic, but shame they couldn't hold it together.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Monday, 23 May 2005 17:18 (9 years ago) Permalink

The only experience I have with them is Sulk, which I didn't like. I didn't like his voice, it reminded me of an opera singer. I've heard Party Fears Too as well, but I don't know if that's connected with Sulk or not.

Maybe someone will recommend a nice convenient accessible song which will change my mind about them completely.

The Silent Disco of Glastonbury (Bimble...), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 01:59 (9 years ago) Permalink

"PartyFearsTwo" was the single from Sulk. You might enjoy the generally more calmly sung "Breakfast" as a way into his music.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 02:02 (9 years ago) Permalink

Ned -- you described it above, but thoughts on the 90's material?

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 02:04 (9 years ago) Permalink

while his voice is always his voice...the original(and soon to be reissued) version of the Affectionate Punch is produced very diferently from Sulk, much more of post-punk art-rock band then the baroque reverb-drenched electronics of Sulk. I love them both of course. So If you don't like Sulk, do not write off The Affectionate Punch. I think I prefer the songs on the Affectionate Punch as well. A bit less...melodramatic.

Speaking of production though, was listened to these 2 this weekend and came to wonder about the sounds in Sulk. I read something about the production once but can't remember where. Anyone have any details, specifically regarding the sounds? There's all these bell like sounds that just don't sound like analog synths, but it's too early for FM synths. Were they using a PPG Wave? Any other thoughts?

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 03:13 (9 years ago) Permalink

Tom Doyle's biography on Mackenzie goes into the album's creation in a bit of detail (much of that was reused for the Sulk reissue liner notes), but there's little in terms of mentioning exact studio equipment. Given what *was* recorded and used -- metal sheets banged in halls at the studio, for instance -- we might never know the full details.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 03:22 (9 years ago) Permalink

"Affectionate Punch" is being reissued? About feckin' time!!!!!!!!!

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 08:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

while his voice is always his voice...the original(and soon to be reissued) version of the Affectionate Punch is produced very diferently from Sulk, much more of post-punk art-rock band then the baroque reverb-drenched electronics of Sulk. I love them both of course.

As do I. But the one thing The Affectionate Punch lacks Sulk's intersection with pop, which of course, is what makes the latter so thrilling.

I think I prefer the songs on the Affectionate Punch as well. A bit less...melodramatic.

Mmmm, maybe — they're both pretty histrionic. But whatever they've retitled "Janice" is def. among their best songs.

Also, Dan, I've read what they used there too, and can't remember. But based on the pads alone, the PPG Wave is a good guess.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 20:48 (9 years ago) Permalink

TIMARA to the rescue!

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 00:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

Yes, Gary Lee Nelson will know.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 00:23 (9 years ago) Permalink

I'll have a shower. Then phone Gary Nelson up. Within the hour, I'll smash another MIDI horn. I mean cup.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 00:33 (9 years ago) Permalink

Seriously, Dan -- is that all I am to you?

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 00:45 (9 years ago) Permalink

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over all the fractal granular synthesis controlled proteus patches.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 03:40 (9 years ago) Permalink

It's funny, b/c Gary's music made me feel both wild and lonely.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 03:45 (9 years ago) Permalink

*administers beatings*

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 03:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

Well, you never did answer my question about 90's Billy, Ned...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 12:23 (9 years ago) Permalink

After having spent some serious time with Affectionate Punch, Fourth Drawer Down and Sulk the past few months, I'm hooked.

Affectionate Punch is one of the great lost post-punk records, along with the first three Sound LPs and the first three Comsat Angels LPs. I hope the reissue rectifies that, much like the Sound reissues did. The Comsats need a proper reissue (even though that 3 disc bootleg set was awesome, the band deserves some money, proper distribution, proper press.)

Sulk is otherworldly. It sits nicely along side Climate Of Hunter as a shining example of 80s avant pop.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 15:14 (9 years ago) Permalink

Hmmmm...Sulk stands along side Climate of Hunter, eh? I'd argue that point — if only b/c the latter's production is horribly dated while the former's remains magnificent.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 16:38 (9 years ago) Permalink

ahhh, they are one of my favorite bands of all times next to a few others. i think they have influenced people who went on to be quite larger visual entities; U2, The Cure, Annie Lennox, Siouxsie etc... however they will stand the test of time a thousand times over many of the bands they influenced because what Billy and Alan did was so incredible and their own, and that voice is always there as well.

you can listen to any of those singles that were compiled on Fourth Drawer Down and think, shit, were these produced yesterday, and why are they still so much better than most of what is "cutting edge" today?

they will always remain a cult band, but one who's influence will probably never be measured in the degree of what it should be sadly... I think it is due to the fact that people still have a hard time dealing with music that has exceedingly dynamic vocals.

i miss them, i really do.

ebenoit, Wednesday, 25 May 2005 18:52 (9 years ago) Permalink

Yes, Climate Of Hunter does have dated production, but Scott and Billy had a lot in common delivery-wise. I really like Climate Of Hunter, despite some of the production.

And I bet Sulk informed Walker's songwriting on Climate.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 18:58 (9 years ago) Permalink

you can listen to any of those singles that were compiled on Fourth Drawer Down and think, shit, were these produced yesterday, and why are they still so much better than most of what is "cutting edge" today?

I would venture to say that b/c while Billy and Alan listened to torch songs and the like for inspiration, people today listen to Fourth Drawer Down...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 19:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

weird coincidence. i had never heard anything by this band up till ten minutes ago. i downloaded the 12'' mix of club country from mp3 blog just for a day and saw this thread. that's amazing over the top pop music. the singer's voice reminds me of someone else. not sure whom, maybe peter hammill? when he doesn't break into his falsetto, i mean.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Wednesday, 25 May 2005 20:50 (9 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...
The Affectionate Punch came out last week with four bonus tracks: "Janice", "You Were Young", "Boys Keep Swinging", and "Mona Property Girl". Weirdly, though, the title track seems to be missing from all tracklistings I've seen of it.

Ian Riese-Moraine: a casualty of social estrangement. (Eastern Mantra), Tuesday, 9 August 2005 23:35 (9 years ago) Permalink

That's just your copy.

I have my own copy on order and await with anticipation. It's been an Associates/Mackenzie couple of weeks for me -- in the UK I picked up the Mackenzie Auchtermatic comp, which is seriously great, as well as the double-disc Singles comp from last year, while I ordered and received the second Radio 1 sessions disc. Time to drown in it all all over again.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 9 August 2005 23:42 (9 years ago) Permalink

The tracklisting shown on Amazon.co.uk shows the title track listed as the first one on the reissue. Good, I was hoping AMG and other sites just made an error.

Ian Riese-Moraine: a casualty of social estrangement. (Eastern Mantra), Tuesday, 9 August 2005 23:45 (9 years ago) Permalink

To reiterate...

"I preferred the US version of the Sulk to the UK one - the version of 'it's better this way' in particular, alot more manic...I prefer the track selection and running order too. I find Sulk to be just a bit scrappy (Bap De La Bap, Nude Spoons) or clumpy (Gloomy Sunday)in places, but perhaps that's just by comparison with the glittering singles popdrama or haunting melancholy of most of the rest of it.

Although its weaker tracks are worse than anything on Sulk, I think 'Perhaps' also has certain tracks which are better than anything on Sulk - eg cabaret glam emotiveness teetering on the edge of hysterical madness in the amazing 'Thirteen Feelings'....then fighting its way back from it with the astonishing 'The Stranger In Your Voice' (find it hard to imagine any voice other than MacKenzie's being able to soar through that amazing, skirling, swirling blast of synthetic/orchestral sound - though I'd like to hear Peter Hammill try!).
The instrumental versions of both these tracks on the extended cassette release show just how in-credible the music is.

-- Snowy Mann, February 3rd, 2003."

Despite wanting to replace my fading cassette - the only CD I can ever find of 'Sulk' is the UK version :(

Ned - I know what you mean wrt 'Wild & Lonely', but i think you should stick with it:
I had a copy of this on tape for ages, having also felt 'meh' after my initial listens - then after 6-8 months or so i tried it again one summer morning in the car while doing a motorway schlep...

To my amazement, it suddenly worked - I found much of it had a kind of poppy optimism suited to motorway cruising in hot/bright weather, sunroof open...(all the more surprising to me as I generally *hate* summer and all that associated yeeha stuff)

I also found via high volume in that enclosed space that i noticed lots of details in the sounds/instruments/production that i really liked - i think there is a real 'deftness' to the production: the instruments/sounds are all given enough room spatially/timbrally, there is a crystalline beauty/intricacy in how it's all arranged.

(You can pick out *every* layered element really clearly from the mix once you have noticed it or decided to pay attention to it, in a way that seems clearer and easier than most other albums i have, and as clearly as on any.
eg try listening on headphones, loud as is comfortable, and focus on all the little sonic thwackery and snaps and pops going on in the offbeats on, say, 'Fever')

No, the material's not anything like the freedom and intensity and half-madness of much of the earlier stuff (but then 'Breakfast' isn't either, and you like that?), but it has it's own appeal - as a work i place it more towards Fagen/Steely Dan type of stuff (ok not *like* them but y'know more like that than 4th Drawer Down !)

Examples of Particulars i like:

good string arrangements throughout

'Calling All Around the World' - like some great 1960's pop song, brimming with optimism, complete with harpsichordy stabs during first verse, the BBC Radio2 'tijuana brass' type feel throughout, the vocal from refrain 2:48 to 3:07...

That 13-second ascending vocal line from about 3:41 to 3:54 of 'Where There's Love'

The subtle triple-echo added just to the 2nd snare hit of each bar during the verses of 'Ever Since That Day'

'Something's Got to Give' - the sonic edges: the little bubbling/gurgling sounds of synth & hyperfast gtr picking popping up; the *sharpest* of pizzicato strings; the processed tablas/congas that appear for about 15 seconds at 2:16, and from 4:15 to 4:30; and the way those seem to be further stretched and warped into providing another rhythmic element from 3:28 to 3:57

'Strasbourg Square' - the first of 2 lovely melancholy tracks to finish - the bit from 2:00 to 2:44 reaches Propaganda-like levels of epic beauty to me, but without the teutonic weightiness - the way that 3-note cello-like bass phrase gradually becomes more prominent, and I'm always left aching for it to keep going or EXPLODE into something; the 15-16 second vocal stretch from 3:24 to 3:39

'Wild And Lonely' - come on, tell me that these piano chords aren't just gorgeous... and that final plaintive vocal of 'god it's only me...'
(there is a plausible case to be made that the rhythm sounds are over-processed throughout this track, but i find they don't distract enough to spoil the melancholy mood)

hope this helps Ned...

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Wednesday, 10 August 2005 17:48 (9 years ago) Permalink

Snowy - your thoughts on Wild and Lonely are spookily similar to the way I feel about The Glamour Chase. I fact I was going to write something about the wealth of little details that really stick when you get inside the album. Maybe I'll still assemble my thoughts on this.

Dr. C (Dr. C), Thursday, 11 August 2005 08:39 (9 years ago) Permalink

please do Dr. C - because that's one *I* haven't so far wanted to listen to more than once or twice !

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Thursday, 11 August 2005 09:41 (9 years ago) Permalink

More coherent thoughts on all this when I am coherent.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 11 August 2005 09:42 (9 years ago) Permalink

That reminds me of my incoherent attempts to get some young shavers at a FAP to listen to the Associates - a task in which I was manfully supported by Mr. Ned Raggett!

Vicious Cop Kills Gentle Fool (Dada), Thursday, 11 August 2005 09:55 (9 years ago) Permalink

Fuckin' hell, dude, at NO point did I connect you with being Dadaismus. I am glad to get that all straight in my mind. (The young shavers were the inestimable tissp! and his bandmate/close friend Chris at the toned-down Trig Brother FAP.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 11 August 2005 09:57 (9 years ago) Permalink

You probably thought I was just some drunken Scotsman wondered in off the street to harangue hapless strangers about the Associates - it happens all the time round these parts

Vicious Cop Kills Gentle Fool (Dada), Thursday, 11 August 2005 10:02 (9 years ago) Permalink


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