Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Silly Billy

Billy Mackenzie would have been 50 years old today. There's not a lot more I can add to Tom Doyle's excellent book, so go and read that if you want to find out more about the man behind the extraordinary voice (the story about Billy's last cab on the Warner Bros. expense account is particularly funny). If, on the other hand, you've never heard the Associates, (why?) I'm providing a couple of tasters below, all taken from a CD of Radio One sessions.

The first, A Severe Bout of Career Insecurity shows the duo at their most demented; recorded for a Peel Session and augmented by Mike Dempsey's bass and Steve Golding's drums, a version of the song was also recorded for the Sulk sessions (entitled And Then I Read A Book), and surfaced on the CD release from 2000. This version, though, is particularly manic, and features a little treat for Julie Andrews fans (presumably The Sound of Music was a big feature at the Rankine and Mackenzie family Christmases).

The second, taken from the same Peel session of 1982 is an early version of Waiting For The Loveboat, which was eventually released on Perhaps, the Associates album that Billy made after Alan Rankine flew the coop in 1982. However, while Rankine doesn't feature on the album version, he does appear on this, somewhat different, take on the song. Please pay attention at the back.

Finally, while few would deny that Rankine and Mackenzie were never as good again after their split, both showed occasional glimmers of their former glory in their subsequent careers. Mackenzie's take on Billie Holiday's God Bless The Child was one such glimmer; it's taken from a Peel session from 1983, and I can't help but think that Volkswagen missed a trick when they used the original version in preference to this for a commercial a few years ago.

RIP Billy.

Download A Severe Bout of Career Insecurity (deleted May 2008)

Download Waiting For The Love Boat (deleted May 2008)

Download God Bless The Child (deleted May 2008)

Buy Associates CDs


BrianT said...

Ah, The Associates. I was a 20 year old Motorhead fan in 1982, when i first heard my flatmate, peter Houghton, playing the 12" of 'Kitchen person'. I loved it instantly, and another brick was cemented into the wall of the musical structure that ould eventually elevate me out of the swamp of denim and headbanging, and free my mind to explore all musics.
When I see TV compilations of "Eighties" music, with the same dull Adam Ants and Duran Durans and Thompson twins, I think of The Associates, Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Smiths, a hundred and one bands that for me, made up the real musical landscape of the '80s.
So Billy'd have been 50 eh? I'll smash a cup in his honour.

Carlotta G said...

God your blog is ace

must catch up some time x

jude calvert-toulmin said...

seconded, carlotta :) innit just? :)

i adore billy mackenzie. it was so sad, the way he died. he had such a wonderful voice. i hope he and the associates are remembered for as long as there is music on the earth.

jude calvert-toulmin said...

oh...and good luck with your dissertation, irk :)