is the associates : 'sulk' all it's cracked up to be ?

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piscesboy, Monday, 3 February 2003 13:01 (twenty years ago) link


well, i've only heard it a couple of times (d/l-ed it last week), but i think it's going to be an album i end up loving.

toby (tsg20), Monday, 3 February 2003 13:03 (twenty years ago) link

Just about, yeah. It's a lot better than anything else they ever did which is annoying.

Andrew Thames (Andrew Thames), Monday, 3 February 2003 13:04 (twenty years ago) link

its excellent. especially the second half of the record. the reissue has some nice extra tracks as well, which is not something you get too often.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 3 February 2003 13:05 (twenty years ago) link

This may sound mentalist - but, despite my belief that Billy and Rankine are/were close to geniuses*, I really don't like 'Sulk' much -PF2 and CC excepted. I'll have a think about what it is that puts me off.

*The singles collected on Fourth Drawer Down are proof of this - all fantastic, all totally different, and all taking you somewhere new - places where no-one has ever been willing or able to follow. I also like a lot of the post-Sulk stuff better than Sulk.

Dr. C (Dr. C), Monday, 3 February 2003 13:32 (twenty years ago) link

Fourth Drawer Down and Sulk are pretty essential - FDD mapped a whole bunch of routes their music could've taken, Sulk luxuriates in the one they picked. Vast, sensual and decadently bejeweled, the music of titans. Anyone else remember their Top of The Pops appearances? A highlight of my tender years....

Lord Marmite (Lord Marmite), Monday, 3 February 2003 14:33 (twenty years ago) link

I saw 'country club' on TOTP 2. really good.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 3 February 2003 14:47 (twenty years ago) link

Another "hell, yeah."


TMFTML (TMFTML), Monday, 3 February 2003 15:45 (twenty years ago) link

Great, let me mention grandiose, and did I say life-changing maybe? Let me say that again!

"Refrigeration keeps you YOUNG I'M TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD!"

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 3 February 2003 16:12 (twenty years ago) link

Another predictable YES

Andy K (Andy K), Monday, 3 February 2003 16:20 (twenty years ago) link

and another YES

Robin Goad (rgoad), Monday, 3 February 2003 16:41 (twenty years ago) link

despite loving Sulk, I too put Fourth Drawer Down above it - except "Skipping" which is one of their best ever

Paul (scifisoul), Monday, 3 February 2003 18:02 (twenty years ago) link

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 it's 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 it's 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 (rdmanston), Monday, 3 February 2003 19:59 (twenty years ago) link

And since no-one ever, ever remembers Holger Hiller, I'd like to mention that 'Whippets' and 'Oben Im Eck' are also fabulous records featuring Billy McKenzie's voice.

Momus (Momus), Monday, 3 February 2003 20:44 (twenty years ago) link

Interesting (but unatributed) interview with Billy McKenzie here from 1994 - also his top ten records for you list lovers.

Any post-Perhaps recommendations?

Lord Marmite (Lord Marmite), Monday, 3 February 2003 21:11 (twenty years ago) link

Sulk is one of my favourite albums ever, although part of me actually thinks "Australia" ("next to Tasmaniaaaaa!") was their apotheosis, Billy's closest approach to redemption.

The only way was down.

robin carmody (robin carmody), Tuesday, 4 February 2003 06:08 (twenty years ago) link

two years pass...
I have much respect for Sulk, but have never really had it sink in to where I ever listen for pure enjoyment yet. I'll be trying again today. I prefer Fourth Drawer Down and The Affectionate Punch.

Bjork had this to say about Sulk:

My love affair with the Associates started when I was 15. There was only one record ship in Reykjavik taht sold alternative music adn I worked there with some of my mates. We didn't care what was popular in England or America at the time. We just adopted the artists we liked and played them to death. I quite liked Fourth Drawer Down and The Affectionate Punch, but it was Sulk I really got into. I was still looking for my identity as a singer and I really admired the way Billy Mackenzie used and manipulated his voice on that record. He was an incredibly spontaneous and intuitive singer, raw and dangerous. At the same time, he always sounded like he was really plugged into nature and the things surrounding him. I've heard people describe him as a white soul singer, but I've always thought his voice was more pagan and primitive, and for me that's much more rare and interesting. Tehre's hundreds of singers that sound a bit soulful, but there's not that many that sound like they have gypsy roots in them.

I thought "Party Fears Two" was a bit too slikc and over-produced at teh time, but I listened to it again recently and I think t's aged well. The electronics sound classic rather than cliched and Billy's voice really complements Alan Rankine's arrangements. I didn't realise "Gloomy Sunday" wasn't one of their tunes until I got invited to do a benefit concert with JOni Mitchell in California in 1997. I turned up at the rehearsal and couldn't believe it when the orchestra played this really straight jazz version without the outrageous key change in teh middle. I tried protesting they were missing out the best part of the song, then it dawned on me that the Associates version was obviously a cover. I was disappointed because the original isn't half as challenging.

A.S. Van Dorston (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Though I do love Sulk it's behind FDD, AP2 and AP1.

And I now like Bjork a lot more.

Andy_K (Andy_K), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:12 (seventeen years ago) link

--I have much respect for Sulk, but have never really had it sink in to where I ever listen for pure enjoyment yet. I'll be trying again today. I prefer Fourth Drawer Down and The Affectionate Punch.


A Viking of Some Note (Andrew Thames), Monday, 5 September 2005 11:55 (seventeen years ago) link

"Gloomy Sunday" not good enough for Bjork, eh? What a stuck-up little four-trick pony/one-hit wonder she is.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 5 September 2005 11:58 (seventeen years ago) link

said four tricks described by wingco here.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 5 September 2005 11:59 (seventeen years ago) link

Bjork is I believe planning on recording a version of "No" as a duet using Mackenzie's vocal as the counterpoint. I like that idea, actually! Apparently it was her influence that led to One Little Indian reissuing the various last-years songs of Mackenzie's earlier this year -- the Haig album and the original versions of the Beyond the Sun tracks and etc.

Ned elsewhere (rogermexico), Monday, 5 September 2005 15:14 (seventeen years ago) link

tbh I don't care about Bjork but that's good and 4 tricks is PLENTY.

A Viking of Some Note (Andrew Thames), Monday, 5 September 2005 15:16 (seventeen years ago) link

two months pass...
Just bought Sulk and Fourth Drawer Down. Had a double cassette with (i think) sulk and the affectionate punch years ago but i think i swapped it for some crap indie records.

leigh (leigh), Wednesday, 30 November 2005 11:06 (seventeen years ago) link

three years pass...

This fucking record.

Relatin' Jews to Jazz (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 6 September 2009 12:10 (thirteen years ago) link

There are days when all I want to listen to is The Associates - and I deny myself the pleasure, just to keep them special.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Sunday, 6 September 2009 17:14 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

as soon as i opened this thread itunes shuffle selected the associates! not something from sulk but still ...

yes it is. such an amazing mix of accessibility and experimentation. some of the deep cuts are so fucking weird

teflon dawn (uptown churl), Friday, 17 June 2011 19:45 (eleven years ago) link

two years pass...

Can I just mention how much I love the drums on this record? Everything about the record is incredibly slick and overloaded (which I love), but then the drums underneath seem like they could fall apart at any time... it's great!

zip-a-dee-doo-dah, motherfucker! (Turrican), Monday, 23 December 2013 19:54 (nine years ago) link

Didn't they fill up the drums with water or something? The whole album sounds warped, in a great way.

brimstead, Monday, 23 December 2013 20:08 (nine years ago) link

In their endless search for found sounds, industrial drums and canisters were rolled down reverberating corridors, sheets of metal were vigorously shaken to create the effect of rolling thunder (witness the introduction to No), hired drums were filled with water (they turned to mush), hired guitars were pissed in (Billy's idea)

From Tom Doyle's sleeve notes for the sulk reissue

brimstead, Monday, 23 December 2013 20:10 (nine years ago) link

five years pass...

Saw a clip of Associates in the Big Gold Dream documentary a couple of years ago and they were the only thing that wowed me. I knew the name of the band and nothing more before then.

Got this album recently and it is great, the demo of "Party Fears Two", called "I never Will" has an amazing vocal that is distinct enough to be a very worthwhile alternate version.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 9 August 2019 19:23 (three years ago) link

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