The Associates: Have the years been kind?

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Having recently bought (and fallen in love with) the Associates' album 'Sulk', I realised I have absolutely no idea how I'd come to have heard of them, as they're never mentioned by anybody, not even in 80's retrospectives. So, the question is essentially do they deserve to have been almost written out of pop history?

DG, Monday, 1 January 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Certainly not. The Asscoiates were the band that took music to another plane back in the eighties ... the recent reissues of 'Sulk', 'Fourth Drawer Down' and the new compliation 'Double Hipness' should only remind or belatedly introduce the world of/to MacKenzie and Rankine's supreme legacy.

Guy Flower, Tuesday, 2 January 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Some of the press (Uncut) wrote about them again after Billy's death, but yeah, generally they've been ignored, except for those tedious 'maverick genius' space-filler articles which crop up from time to time. (You know the ones - they always mention Ian Curtis, Nick Drake, Jeff + Tim Buckley, Lee Mavers etc etc)

I reckon their best work is on the early singles compliation 'Fourth Drawer Down'. Amazingly each track is completely different from the rest ('White Car in Germany' ' Message Oblique Speech' 'Tell me Easter's on Friday', 'Kitchen Person' - each sounds like nothing else you've ever heard, yet after the first ten seconds could ONLY be by The Associates. I'm not all that fond of Sulk, mainly because they've ditched some of the experimentation. I don't really like the glacial, brittle production that they've used across the whole album. I respect the fact that they've gone for an extreme sound, It just doesn't work for me.

The Associates required you to enter their world to enjoy their music, not always easy, but worth the effort.

Dr. C

Dr. C, Wednesday, 3 January 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

From my point of view the years have certainly been kind - what may well have sounded ridiculous (intentionally so) at the time sounds grand and playful now: a possible exception being "Breakfast", love it though I do.

I'd go against the grain of the good Doctor - I find the first two CDs much harder going than "Sulk" - rewarding to be sure but still tough ("White Car In Germany" though is tremendous with no equivocation). "Sulk" though sparkles - I love the 'glacial' production and the hysteria of it all. And "Party Fears Two" is one of those handful of singles I occasionally get worked up about and pronounce "THIS IS THE GREATEST SINGLE OF ALL TIME" which means in that instant it least, it is.

Tom, Wednesday, 3 January 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Do they deserve it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Exchange the relative fame level of the Associates with U2 and the world would be a happier place. I couldn't imagine the Associates inspiring Creed, for one thing, and we'd all be better off.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 3 January 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Don't forget that Sulk was a Melody Maker Album of the Year. So they were critical awarded at the time.

Also in 1999, Uncut, Simon Reynolds reviewed the reissues and highly praised the ambition of Associates music. These reissues made album of the month feature in Uncut.

Associates along with Cabaret Voltaire will be remembered for many years to come.

Also I think their should be a national curriculum for kids in Secondary schools to sample the more creative pop and rock acts of the past years, then they would have a greater understanding of the context of interesting music.

The Associates would be on this curriculum.

DJ Martian, Wednesday, 3 January 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Martian, I'm going to forward your post to the Daily Telegraph, and bribe them into printing it, just for the pleasure of seeing the letters that will doubtless follow :).

Oh, and "Party Fears Two" *is* the greatest single of all time. One of the five, anyway.

Robin Carmody, Saturday, 6 January 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

two months pass...
I was 18 in the summer of 1982. "Party Fears Two" was part of the soundtrack of that summer. And I was living it in DUNDEE. I've had some unhappy times since then, but I'll remember that wonderful year and the part that the music of the Associates played in it forever. Whenever I listen to Sulk I'm 18 again and the world is full of opportunities that I never eventually took up

The Associates WILL be remembered long after some of today's POPSTARS are long forgotten.

Big Al, Sunday, 1 April 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I remember being played the 12" of 'Party Fears Two' and my jaw dropping at its audacity - I wouldn't trust anyone who dislikes The Associates - 'Sulk' is a classic.

Geordie Racer, Sunday, 1 April 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

three months pass...
*SIGH* The Associates are a band I've tried VERY hard to like. After reading about the reissues in several magazines, I was instantly sold and went out and bought Sulk. I've had this album for about a year now and I still can't get past track 2. Okay, I've flipped around a bit, but still nothing. Maybe the voice is just a little too 'flighty' for me. I don't really know. I just can't get past that voice.

JC, Friday, 20 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Hey! It's My First Thread! But anyway, whilst people are (possibly) paying attention, I pulled this from a Billy Mackenzie tribute site:
"WEA are in the planning stages at the moment pencilled in now for May/June 2001 is a double CD package,'The Glamour Chase' and 'Perhaps' available for first time on CD and there is also talk of hopefully a Rarities and possible 'Live at Ronnie Scotts', this is still early days!"
Does anyone know anything about this, as as far as I am aware this hasn't happened.

DG, Friday, 20 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Hey, "Party Fears Two" is one of the most fun songs of all time to (try to) sing along to. Please enlighten the non-Brits among us as to how the press treated Billy's death and his oeuvre. Did anyone note his great fashion sense--oh, yes, and the mad genius of "Sulk"?

X. Y. Zedd, Saturday, 21 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

'Sulk' still sounds fresh to me; 'Party Fears Two' delirious, manic, beautiful and poignant. Something profoundly honest in Billy's voice during that song, unease and self-doubt amidst all that vocal flamboyance.

But, like most of us i suspect, for all the genuine affection I have for 'Sulk' I have nothing else by the Associates or the late Billy Mackenzie. Any recommendations?

stevo, Saturday, 21 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Which of today's POPSTARS did Big Al have in mind: I will never forget Kym Marsh and Mylene Klass?

DG: I have seen this record you mention, I'm sure: in Tower or Virgin... Check Amazon (or somewhere...)

mark s, Saturday, 21 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I did, and once again was disappointed. I think you saw something else, Mark.

DG, Sunday, 22 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
question how did billy die?

amanda jane turnock, Saturday, 18 August 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

My memory has gone painfully blank. Was it an overdose?

"Club Country" on TOTP2 just now *unbelievably* awesome: the sort of thing that justifies these mostly tedious clip shows in one transcendent moment.

Robin Carmody, Saturday, 18 August 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Wasn't he found hanging in his mother's garden shed?

Dr. C, Sunday, 19 August 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I believe he took an overdose in the garden shed at his parents house. As for TOTP2 -NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I missed it!

DG, Sunday, 19 August 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I think my video obsessed flatmate still has it on tape. I'll rummage around the pile of About A Boy video recyclage and drop you a line if it's still there.

Richard Tunnicliffe, Sunday, 19 August 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I'd like to hereby retract my previous thought on the Associates made on July 20th.

I was wrong...boy was I EVER wrong.

JC, Monday, 20 August 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I agree, The Associates are one of the forgotten bands of the 80's but for people who really remember, (not just the sub-celebrities they use on these nostalgia-trip TV shows, reading from scripts), they were one of the best. If I could just bottle the feeling I had when catching them on some long forgotten late night chat show, around 81, doing Party Fears Two and Skipping,...well anyone who's heard those tracks must know.

I think The Associates did 4 albums in total, the last was after Rankine left. In fact they did a complete re-mix of their first LP and re-released it, anyone remeber that, it wasn't a patch on the original though.

Rodger Kerslake, Wednesday, 22 August 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm just a stoopid italian, but I think ASSOCIATES was the most intriguing and intelligent oblique pop music band of our century, SULK is an absolute masterpiece and bands as Pulp, Cousteau and - maybe - Stereolab have memorized tracks as 'Skipping', 'Nude spoons euphoria' and 'It's better this way' in their Dna. Of course 'Party fears two' was the Everest of pop singles, hard to sing for a fucking mortal but with a contagious butterfly melody spreading across the world. I Love this perfection.

Mic, Wednesday, 5 September 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

two months pass...
still keep an original 'Sulk' musicassette in the car. play it to bits.Probably the album I've listened to the most EVER....

dave, Saturday, 17 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
No, but to hell with history and received wisdom. Y'all wanna know what makes Sulk such a fabulous album? The drums. A drum kit constructed out of snare drums only! How cool is that?

Ramon Mayor, Sunday, 9 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Why didn't I see this thread before?

Of course, Rankine-era Associates are one of the all-time GRATES.

Am I a fhoul for feeling that "Club Country" looms large over "Party Fears Two"?

Andy K., Sunday, 9 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

No. I'm coming to feel the same.

Robin Carmody, Monday, 10 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one month passes...
having stumbled upon the associates quite by accident, i can honestly say, yes, the years have been kind. i believe i "borrowed" a cassette copy of sulk in the early 90's and i have loved it ever since. i can also recommend the compilation "popera" for the associate neophyte. am i the only one who is genuinely fond of billy's later output including the faux-human league-melodrama of "waiting for the love boat" or the entire first side of the LP "wild and lonely"? also. i suggest you pick up the biography "glamor chase" for the gory details.

Stephen Dixon, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

dave lee travis said he wish billy mckenzie, marc almond and kevin roland form a band together and let us know their tour dates so we can avoid them. he was a bitter man.

XStatic Peace, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Wild and Lonely was gloopy fluff for the most part, I think. Great voice, terrible arrangements, alas!

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

i still have that "the 80s" thing that the late show did (3 hours on new years eve 1989) which was a fun retrospective of 80s music. (They were ahead of their time with nostalgia -- eat your heart out "i wuv the X0s"), and they do feature on it in the "Barking Mad" section alongside Grace Jones. it's a bit over-watched now and a bit blurry, but still fun from time to time.

Alan Trewartha, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Though there has been a lot of interest in Sulk era Associates, I think I slightly prefered the post-punk era of the first album and the 12"s that ended up on 4th Drawer. Monoproperty Girl is their best song. Are their any live recordings from the early period?

Alexander Blair, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link


Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

There's the Associates there - um, yes, that's right, the Associates with "Party Fears Two" which I think is really a silly pompous title for a song really, I mean why can't they do a good straightforward song title like "Classic" or "Censors Working Overtime", telling us exactly what they're thinking? And I bet they support the whingeing Labour Party and the nurses who take our lives into their hands with their arrogance that they want to get paid more than the newsagent down the road from my home in Cheam with the scary Alsatian, oh, what a bore, remember nurses, IF YOU DON'T WORK, WE DON'T WORK!!! More great Radio 1 pop music coming up after the news with the Goombay Hermes House, erm, Dance Band ...

Hairy Cockflake, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

four months pass...
I only just heard of the Associates but have known their work for sometime ever since I first heard the jingly goodness of Party Fears Two, which was endlessly repeated during the end credits of Radio 4's "Weekending" show for most of the 80s and early 90s.

I was pestering people in the office by humming the tune to see if anybody knew what it was but nobody knew. Then just the other day they played it on advert for the CD "Alternative Eighties" so I had to buy it. Now my mind is at rest! Strange CD, mind.

Zooty McFrooty, Wednesday, 29 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Since this has come up again, let me say (again) just how amazing the demos album 'Double Hipness' is.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 29 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

ten months pass...
i've had kitchen person buzzing around my brain for two days now

gaz (gaz), Wednesday, 9 April 2003 02:52 (sixteen years ago) link

five months pass...
I needed something, I was at a loss, I decided now was the time for Sulk. "No" stalking and floating out of my speaker like a delirious revenant and all is again right with the world.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 22 September 2003 03:51 (sixteen years ago) link

i might play it when i get home too

gaz (gaz), Monday, 22 September 2003 04:01 (sixteen years ago) link

just some info for hardcore associates fans: there's two spanish bands, hidrogenesse and astrud (actually their whole label, that are completely fond of billy mckenzie's music and vocal style, and they do it really well and get a new sound out of their tribute to the associates. i absolutely recommend it to all.

joan vich (joan vich), Monday, 22 September 2003 11:49 (sixteen years ago) link

Anyone got a take on Glamour Chase, which indeed found its release last year?

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Monday, 22 September 2003 13:33 (sixteen years ago) link

"The Glamour Chase" was well worth the wait - even if the impact of it was inevitably dulled from hearing various MP3s over the last few years.

It's probably a better album than "Wild & Lonely", but probably less than essential if you've already got the Rankine-era albums.

I seem to remember that there is still supposed to be another album's worth of unreleased Boris Blank collaborations. That must be the last of the releasable stuff in the vaults.

With regard to the posthumous releases, I would have prefered "Smile"-esque compilations of the Winter Academy and Outerpol albums, as opposed to the scattershot approach of "Beyond The Sun" et al.

BTW, I've still got a sealed copy of the deleted "Eurocentric" if anyone is after it.

Marcel Gallingez (Marcel Gallingez), Monday, 22 September 2003 15:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Eurocentric, that was his solo album followup to Wild and Lonely? I am definitely interested...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 22 September 2003 15:38 (sixteen years ago) link

Do you mean like this. I'd love one, but I have mouths to feed.

Billy Dods (Billy Dods), Monday, 22 September 2003 16:43 (sixteen years ago) link


Didn't realise it was already worth £130. At this rate it's going to overtake my other two 'nest egg' records (Radiohead's "Drill" EP (vinyl) and XTC's "Wrapped in Grey" CD single).

Ned, you might be confusing "Eurocentric" with "Outernational" - Billy's only 'proper' solo album, released in 1992. I've got one of those as well, but it's far too good to sell...

Marcel Gallingez (Marcel Gallingez), Monday, 22 September 2003 17:32 (sixteen years ago) link

Ah, clarity is mine. :-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 22 September 2003 17:36 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
i have had 4th drawer down burnt for months, and after spending all of that time trying to parse the music, i realized i have no idea what the lyrics mean at all. i have found a website with the the actual words, which has made the music seem even more cryptic to me.

it still sounds fresh as hell to my ears btw.

Aaron Grossman (aajjgg), Wednesday, 29 October 2003 05:49 (sixteen years ago) link

actually not all of the songs are frustrating, but explain "property girl" if you can. "no managerial talks"?

Aaron Grossman (aajjgg), Wednesday, 29 October 2003 06:07 (sixteen years ago) link

i happened to hear "tell me easter's on friday" for the first time the other week, on a compilation tape. i've been completely in love with it ever since, so i'll definitely try to pick up an associates album before long.

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Wednesday, 29 October 2003 06:17 (sixteen years ago) link

i am thinking that at this point, it seems the most essential are:
1. Fourth Drawer Down
2. Sulk
3. Radio One Sessions Volume One

all remastered in the last three years.

Aaron Grossman (aajjgg), Wednesday, 29 October 2003 06:19 (sixteen years ago) link


// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 March 2016 19:12 (three years ago) link

I have to say that song has been driving me NUTS. My car's connection to my iPhone can be buggy. Firstly, whenever I plug the phone in, it immediately starts playing the first song on my phone, which used to be some unlistenable Aphex Twin thing, but is now "A" by the Associates. Then the bugginess causes it to start, play the first verse, then start again, over and over again. It drives us crazy.

I liked the song before that though.

dan selzer, Tuesday, 8 March 2016 19:27 (three years ago) link

I love 'A', it demonstrates that Billy can sing something as mundane as the alphabet in that golden voice of his and have it come out amazingly, but even my patience would be tested by having to listen to it like that!

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 March 2016 19:58 (three years ago) link

Watching that performance of "You Only Live Twice" upthread, and being a fan of "The Rhythm Divine," I am thinking how amazing a record of Billy singing Bond songs would've been. I mean, man.

― Naive Teen Idol,

Always thought Give Me Time from Beyond The Sun was his best attempt at a Bond theme.

Kitchen Person, Tuesday, 8 March 2016 20:14 (three years ago) link

Listening to The Affectionate Punch last night I fell in love all over again with the way the guitar just comes bursting in on 'Paper House', such a great bit of playing.

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 March 2016 20:24 (three years ago) link

I've just put it on. Paper House could well be my favourite song on here. Always loved how pretty the guitars are on Logan Time too.

One of my favourite memories of this album is from Jonathan Ross' radio show back in 2006. He had Yeah Yeah Yeahs in to promote Show Your Bones. He somehow got on to the topic of Billy Mackenzie/Associates when interviewing them and couldn't believe they'd never heard of them. He sounded really excited to play an Associates track for them. He then went and played Transport To Central. It was such an awesome and bizarre moment hearing such a bleak song like that on Radio 2 on a Saturday morning. I don't remember Yeah Yeah Yeahs reactions now, I don't think they were that excited by it. Probably the coolest thing I've ever heard Jonathan Ross do.

Kitchen Person, Tuesday, 8 March 2016 20:44 (three years ago) link

i don't know if anyone but billy could sing the phrase "i don't know whether to over or underestimate you", let alone make it catchy. seems like an insanely hard thing to sing.. to fit all the syllables in and still have it be soulful, let alone intelligible.

lute bro (brimstead), Tuesday, 8 March 2016 20:49 (three years ago) link

Hahaha, I didn't know about that! I love those jagged guitar chords in 'Transport To Central'... there's some great guitar work throughout the whole album, actually. I've got 'Deeply Concerned' lodged in my head now, think it may be time for yet another listen. I'm glad that we're not talking about Sulk for once, even though I love that record!

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 March 2016 20:56 (three years ago) link

(x-post to KP)

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 March 2016 20:57 (three years ago) link

Oh god, yeah, that chorus from 'A Matter of Gender' is such an earworm!

// 166,000 W A N K E R S // LOVE (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 March 2016 20:59 (three years ago) link

Always been a really big fan of of the B-side, You Were Young. It's as good as anything on The Affectionate Punch.

Agree about A Matter of Gender. Another AP highlight. There isn't a weak song on there really.

Kitchen Person, Tuesday, 8 March 2016 21:13 (three years ago) link

two months pass...


In May 1982 the French TV presenter Alain Maneval came to London to film The Associates for his show Megahertz. The band performed ‘Party Fears Two’ and ‘Club Country’ at the Kensington Roof Gardens, London. The show was broadcast and the tapes disappeared into a French film archive. They are now available for the first time in 34 years

Ned Raggett, Monday, 23 May 2016 19:13 (three years ago) link


Turrican, Monday, 23 May 2016 19:34 (three years ago) link

<3 Billy

Larry 'Leg' Smith (Tom D.), Monday, 23 May 2016 20:08 (three years ago) link

Just wonderful. I could spend ages watching Billy performances like that. What a man!

Kitchen Person, Monday, 23 May 2016 20:17 (three years ago) link

seven months pass...

20 years since Billy died today. Definitely going to be playing some of his/their stuff loud today.

Kitchen Person, Sunday, 22 January 2017 18:44 (three years ago) link

Me too. Not that I need any excuse to listen to this band!

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Sunday, 22 January 2017 19:01 (three years ago) link

Will line 'Sulk' up next. Twenty years!

michaellambert, Sunday, 22 January 2017 22:13 (three years ago) link

I'm on a bit of Nude Spoons right now.

Kitchen Person, Sunday, 22 January 2017 22:16 (three years ago) link

four months pass...

The closing massed choir vocal on "Party Fears Two" is one of the most spine tingling moments in music ever

Unchanging Window (Ross), Monday, 5 June 2017 00:49 (two years ago) link

Indeed. The song is already incredible but that last minute takes it up to another level. My favourite song of all time.

Speaking of spine tingling moments, I got a nice surprise when I went into one of my local record shops on Friday and found they'd reissued Beyond The Sun on vinyl. I had no idea it was coming out again. I was so happy to see his handsome face on the new releases stand. It was only $14 too which is an absolute bargain. I played it yesterday and it still sounded so great. The last minute of Nocturne VII rivals that last part of Party Fears Two for the most moving end to a song ever.

kitchen person, Monday, 5 June 2017 02:35 (two years ago) link

Incredible song kitchen person, never heard it. He's truly a singular talent

Unchanging Window (Ross), Monday, 5 June 2017 06:15 (two years ago) link

4th Drawer Down is all good though innit? Or is that an alternative version or rerecording.

Stevolende, Monday, 5 June 2017 13:10 (two years ago) link

'Arrogance Gave Him Up' into 'No' is such a bizarre track ordering decision if you think about it, opening the album with this peppy instrumental and then directly into possibly the darkest song on the LP, but it really works. Everything on Sulk sounds so well recorded and sparkly while the playing - particularly the drumming - is often idiosyncratic, with those always unique vocals taking it over the top. It's a great musical brew. Great band. The drums on 'Bap De La Bap' remains one of those "how the hell did they think of that?" moments.

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Monday, 5 June 2017 17:38 (two years ago) link

Per the Doyle bio of Billy, "Arrogance" acts as a curtain raiser for the album -- you're getting a full show, compere and all.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 5 June 2017 17:40 (two years ago) link

Does anyone on this site dislike this band

K-hole MacLachlan (wins), Monday, 5 June 2017 17:41 (two years ago) link

Incredible song kitchen person, never heard it. He's truly a singular talent

― Unchanging Window (Ross)

Glad you enjoyed it. Beyond The Sun is a gorgeous record.

kitchen person, Tuesday, 6 June 2017 01:30 (two years ago) link

xxp yeah "arrogance" and the "Nothinginsomethingparticular" are the intro/exit themes

i can't imagine where else i'd put "no", might kill the momentum to have it in the midst of the other tracks that are so much faster

brimstead, Tuesday, 6 June 2017 02:44 (two years ago) link

"If you weren't into Led Zeppelin and... what's that other horrible band? Genesis!"

Punnet of the Grapes (Tom D.), Tuesday, 6 June 2017 08:43 (two years ago) link

Billy's voice on 'No' is just pure ear candy.

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Tuesday, 6 June 2017 08:46 (two years ago) link

seven months pass...

21 years ago today.

Don't think I'd mentioned it here before -- could be wrong -- but I'll be presenting on Billy at the Pop Con this year. Here's a quick description:

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 January 2018 18:28 (two years ago) link

The clip above set me off on a minor YouTube crawl and a documentary in which his dad suggests he should have been a vet not a pop-star. I have to confess to having had a chuckle.

djh, Monday, 22 January 2018 22:37 (two years ago) link

That must be _The Glamour Chase_ doc -- essential viewing, still.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 January 2018 22:44 (two years ago) link


djh, Monday, 22 January 2018 23:14 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

So here's my presentation

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 1 May 2018 15:16 (one year ago) link

Really looking forward to this.

Naive Teen Idol, Friday, 4 May 2018 17:43 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

So there's a reissue of Perhaps due late January on Cherry Red -- an expansion of what ended up as that somewhat barebones two-fer CD release with The Glamour Chase, but this time strictly Perhaps-era material itself. Nothing unreleased, but pretty much every last variant and B-side and the like finally in one place:


Disc One: Perhaps + Bonus Tracks
1. Those First Impressions
2. Waiting For The Loveboat
3. Perhaps (Dave Allen Remix)
4. Schampout
5. Helicopter Helicopter
6. Breakfast
7. Thirteen Feelings
8. The Stranger In Your Voice
9. The Best Of You
(Billy Mackenzie & Dave Allan Remix)
10. Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look
11. Perhaps (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
12. Breakfast Alone (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
13. Thirteen Feelings (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
14. The Stranger In Your Voice (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks
1. Those First Impressions (Extended Version) *
2. Waiting For The Loveboat (Single Version)
3. Waiting For The Loveboat (Extended Version) *
4. Waiting For The Loveboat (Slight Return)
5. Perhaps Perhaps *
6. Schampout (Edit) *
7. Breakfast (Single Version)
8. Breakfast (Edit)
9. Kites
10. Take Me To The Girl (Single Version)
11. Take Me To The Girl (12” Mix) *
12. Take Me To The Girl (Instrumental) *
13. The Girl That Took Me *

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 18:11 (two months ago) link

(Asterisk means first time on CD.)

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 18:11 (two months ago) link

What's missing if we're talking this time frame is the Ronnie Scott gig, which at least is readily floating around on YouTube etc., but it would be nice to finally get a formal release of that (audio and video of course).

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 18:12 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

So anyway, here's my review of said reissue:

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 18:01 (two weeks ago) link

Great review, Ned.

I picked up the new reissue and one of the things that struck me was how long the core album is - nearly an hour for ten songs! Previously only had it on vinyl and hadn’t realised.

It’s a good record, but sometimes I think the story of ‘Perhaps’ is maybe the most interesting thing about it.

michaellambert, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 18:25 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah, agreed; there's tracks I'll always love but the backstory really says it all. If the album were more famous I think the making of it would be more known, but it's almost like Billy was just not-quite-famous enough for that backstory to truly get attention; at least we have the Doyle book and these liner notes. I've got a slew of tracks from the sessions floating around, including the original take on "The Best of You" with Gina X, which is miles better than Eddi Reader's.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 18:44 (two weeks ago) link

I read about the seemingly farcical Perhaps in The Glamour Chase book about 15 years before hearing the album, full expecting it to be something of a car crash yet it is hands down the album I love the most

PaulTMA, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 19:07 (two weeks ago) link

I'd have to agree, Paul. Read 'The Glamour Chase' around the time of that 'Perhaps/Glamour Chase' double but never bought it (skint student), assumed both would be very patchy. Only finally heard 'Perhaps' a few years ago and was surprised that it actually holds together pretty well. Reading the story of its fractured and protracted creation before hearing it maybe puts a bit too much baggage on it.

michaellambert, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 21:10 (two weeks ago) link

On the other hand I remember The Glamour Chase (album) as being a horribly dated and bland Curiosity Killed The Cat/Brother Beyond-esque affair. Might have to reinvestigate to see if that was a harsh analysis

PaulTMA, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 21:36 (two weeks ago) link

I've always felt the Perhaps songs found on "The Radio One Sessions" (Helicopter Helicopter, Theme From Perhaps, Perhaps (Schizophrenic Version), Don't Give Me That I Told You So Look, Breakfast, Take Me To The Girl) are the best versions.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 21:53 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah I think there's a good album in the Perhaps material, I just don't think Perhaps itself is that album. Also if Billy had just gone solo in name earlier I think it would stand out a little more in immediate comparison to Sulk, but I understand why he held onto it for a long while.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 13 February 2020 00:04 (two weeks ago) link

As for the version of Glamour Chase that eventually surfaced, it does have an advantage by adding on the Yello collaboration "Snowball" as well as "Take Me To the Girl" and "Heaven's Blue," none of which were on the original promo tape that circulated, but yeah a good chunk of it just doesn't work -- and to a degree that afflicts Wild and Lonely as well. It's just kinda weird to me to a degree because all the work with Yello pretty readily showed *how* he could have taken a pop-friendly version of their work as a throughline during the late 80s (especially since they all had a hit as songwriters with "The Rhythm Divine" for Shirley Bassey), and the album still also has "Country Boy," which is easily one of his most inspired collaborations and is truly strange and unique, yet still recorded some dreck. Maybe he just figured it would keep WEA happy.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 13 February 2020 00:11 (two weeks ago) link

Helicopter Helicopter and Schampout are the songs I'd happily lose on Perhaps. I still love the album despite those flaws. When I first got the album, I was obsessed with the second half and would often just play that side of my vinyl copy. I'm still in awe of that ridiculous string arrangement on The Stranger In Your Voice and Breakfast should have been a number one single.

I mostly agree on the assessment of The Glamour Chase. Despite Billy obviously playing it safe on those last few Associates albums, I love that he still did things like Country Boy. As you say Ned, it's a truly bizarre choice that seems like a rare flash of inspiration from Billy at that point. Empires Of Your Heart is the standout on there. I still think it's one of Billy's most stunning moments.

Funnily enough, I just played Outernational the other day probably for the first time in 10 years. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Definitely a step up from Wild & Lonely -- an album I try not to think about too much. Baby should have been a hit.

kitchen person, Thursday, 13 February 2020 15:27 (two weeks ago) link

If Adele recorded Baby it would probably end up being her biggest and most inescapable hit

PaulTMA, Thursday, 13 February 2020 15:55 (two weeks ago) link

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