Tuesday, May 24, 2005

an affectionate punch

Billy MacKenzie and Alan Rankine formed The Associates in Dundee, Scotland, in 1976. They released a self-funded 7" of Boys Keep Swinging mere weeks after David Bowie had released his original. This scam got them a publishing deal with Bowie's publishers and a proper record deal.

By 1980 they were touring with The Cure and signed to Fiction Records, for whom they recorded The Affectionate Punch. At the turn of the year they relocated to Situation 2 and put out a string of singles recorded using money from major labels who were expecting demos to be produced with their cash... In tandem with their increasing consumption of coke and speed, the groups' music became increasingly deranged and experimental.

The Associates signed with WEA in 1982. Billy and Alan immediately scored a string of UK top 20 chart hits. The album Sulk (from which Club Country is taken) made the UK top 10, winning album of the year awards in the UK music press. The groups drug use was at a peak and Billy & Alan's behaviour was becoming somewhat erratic. On the eve of their biggest ever UK tour MacKenzie pulled out. A US deal with Island was consequentially lost. Deciding that he couldn't continue, Alan Rankine left the group.

MacKenzie started recording a follow up album. 1984s Perhaps cost WEA £250,000. It took 3 years and 4 production teams to record - twice (dissatisfied with the original production Billy "lost" the first versions' master tapes, forcing a re-recording). The album had some chart success, but WEA were dissatisfied, and started pressuring MacKenzie to follow a more straightforward pop-soul direction. Frustrated by WEA's lack of support, MacKenzie focussed on collaborations, most notably with Yello.

At the end of 1996 he signed with Nude Records. Tragically his first release for the label was a post-humous one. The death of his mother was likely the trigger of an emotional breakdown that led him deeper and deeper into a depressed state. Billy MacKenzie died aged 39, on 22nd January 1997 from an overdose of prescribed and over-the-counter pills.

The Associates - Club Country (12" mix)


At 2:50 AM, Blogger Fat Boab said...

Billy Mackenzie had the most fantastic voice I ever heard. I saw him live a couple of times and the memory just disnae fade.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger 20jazzfunkgreats said...

I recomend reading Tom Doyle's book The Glamour Chase if you ever get a chance.

Chocolate guitars, and that walking away with the microphone on totp's.

When Moz did William it was really nothing, Billy responded by writing Stephen it was really something.

A great character with a unique style of music.


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