Wednesday, 27 March 2013

It's Over, it's over, it's over....

So here we have it. The Last Post. A few years on from what I thought would be a fairly straightforward highlighting of the good stuff left outta the Associates/ Billy MacKenzie re-issues... and I realise it was far from that simple.
Stuff gets lost. Time gets in the way. Life gets in the way. Illness gets in the way. Parents die. Redundancy. New Jobs. Children grow. Family life.... But I am sure you are all as much in the thick of it as I am. Lets all just keep swimming and breathing.

This will be the last post for Whippetatthewheel. There are also many bootlegs of live shows and you can seek that stuff out easily enough...

There are still a few shiny gems uncollected in any of the re-issues. The Dennis Wheatley Mix of "Give Me Time" did re-appear on the Haig/MacKenzie Memory Palace remaster but it was edited down to 7.26 from its original 9.00 minute moody, semi-ambient electronic excursion on the very limited "Wild Is The Wind" CDEP.
There is another version of "Give Me Time" which some of you might not be aware of. It is known as the "Electro" version and was circulated between some fans in the 90's. It is a great sounding mix and the quality is excellent. A collaboration between Billy and Paul Haig and a worthy addition to any Billy or Paul Haig collection. I really like the instrumentation and arrangement.

Billy's cover of Randy Newman's "Baltimore" never popped up on any of the re-issue CDs. There were a couple of versions circulating amongst Billy fans for a number of years in the 90's. Both were in remarkably good quality, one is a string laden version (7.26) and the other is a beat driven version which clocks in at 7.35. A very similar version also turned up on the limited edition "Wild Is The Wind" CDEP in 2001.

Steve Aungle has also been working hard on his "Stolen Voices" Project for White Label. Check out his work on Soundcloud, it is remarkable. Billy, John, David, Marc, Jimmy and Jean feature amongst many others. It is a stunning project. I'd had the John acoustic number from the Beatles Escher Demos Boot years back. What Steve is doing is groundbreaking work. I love it.

 One of the most stunning things I have heard over the last few years has been Steve Aungle's re-working of "The Mountains That You Climb". This beautiful song had only ever really circulated among Billy fans in a rough studio out-take form which hinted at greatness but was forever trapped in a basic monitor mix with fluctuating vocal levels. It was a great treat to even have that. However, Steve has worked on a different version and elevated the song to a new level. A thing of beauty indeed and is now one of my favourite Billy MacKenzie/ Steve Aungle tracks. It is available to download for free from this link.

Do have a listen to what is going on with the rest of the tracks in the whitelabelstolenvoices project. It is simply beautiful. Thank you Steve. A generous touch from a musician who worked with Billy for many years. The Aungle/ MacKenzie "Eurocentric" CD (the release of which was stiffed in a bit of a shabby way IMHO) I think ranks among the best work Billy and any of his multitude of Associates ever produced. Steve's archive of Billy stories at Wordpress is a funny, enlightening and honest description of his times with Billy. It is also darkened by the sadness of losing a friend and collaborator. Steve tells of some of the mountains he had to climb during the re-issue years following Billy's death. Read 'em and weep (and laugh too!).

By the way. I came across this charming photo of Billy and Nick Cave some years back. I'm sure I recognise the young lady in the between the two gentleman... but for the life of me I cannot remember her name. Can anyone help?

Of course back at the start of everything young Billy and Alan were so unbelievably hip they were Double Hip.

And when MCA re-issued Boys Keep Swinging it was given a bit of a remix. So in the interests of completeness and  putting things to bed properly it seems only fair to draw attention to both versions... both the the Double Hip and the MCA releases... from original  vinyl of course...

The blog posts will remain as an information source only. If there are any people looking over this blog who are looking for a particular rare, commercially unavailable track or mix or whatever, I suggest they make their way to the Associates Yahoo Group, sign up and ask nicely. They are a great bunch there and I'm sure people will be glad to help.

It only remains for me to say "Goodbye" and "Thank You" all, for the kind comments, encouragement and contributions. I loved the music.... Billy, Alan and all the other Associates and collaborators were a soundtrack to much of my growing up... through my teens, twenties, thirties and forties. I just struck my half century. This blog has always been about the music that got left behind from the re-issues. I didn't want to see some of those great curiosities, rarities, weird mixes and bizarre collaborations relegated to some forgotten Past. But as we all know... the Past doesn't go anywhere... we carry it along with us. Into our future.

William MacArthur MacKenzie would have been 56 today. Happy Birthday Billy.

All the best everyone, be kind when you can...

Love on ya!

Sid Law

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Move in marches on the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

from "To The Fallen" by Laurence Binyon.

"The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long..."

Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher 6th Century BC.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Back to the Old House - the Revenge of Memory

Last week brought us back to the Dundee area. My OH is a Dronley lass, born with Auchterhouse muck on her boots. Her dear old mum, Jean,  died back in Dec 2009 and we've rarely been back up since the funeral, once was to see the gravestone in place. Not that we weren't thinking of the Sidlaws or Jean or Dundee (we have a McIntosh Patrick view of Auchterhouse Hill on our living room wall).

It was just that Work, a growing child, a Redundancy, a New Job and not actually having anywhere to stay (or even stop) in the Dundee area anymore, kinda put things on the back burner Dundee-wise for a while.
After a rainy visit to lay some flowers at Jean and Jimmy's grave in Liff Cemetery (passing the "Country Club" - Liff Hospital en-route) we headed on to our Blairgowrie Bed and Breakfast, for a few days idling in rural Perthshire.
On our return journey home we routed in a wee visit back to climb Auchterhouse Hill. It was a beautiful day. The views were panoramic taking in Carnoustie, Dundee, across the Silvery Tay lay Fife and The Lomond Hills, beyond that we could even make out The Pentlands. To the West lay Ben Lawers and Scheihallion.
Sometimes you get a sense of The Past tapping you on the shoulder. As me, my OH and the wee fella stood on the summit of Craigowl we could see her old home down below in Dronley. Someone else living there. No connection now. Just memory. Familiar surroundings and places, but no longer with any people we knew.
In the early 90's (before we'd had a our son) we'd walked up Craigowl and said "Hello" to Billy at the corner of Bonnybank Road (by the phone box) as he walked his dogs. A year or so later Billy was a memory.

We had briefly returned to Dundee back in July 2011, the approaching demolition of the Hilltown Multis was too much to resist. We returned to watch the action just for the day. Wow!

One of my OH's pals lived in the second block from the right. We hoped she'd had time to get out. We tried to cap the day off with a shot on the flumes at The Olympia but it was shut down. The last minute substitution of a wander round the play park at Camperdown was not sufficient to allay the disappointment on the wee fella's face. It was also a realisation that he was too old for most of the play equipment now. We didn't stay long at Camperdown. It was a different Life when we'd take him there with his granny. Times past. The journey home was a relief to each of the three of us, mibbe for different reasons.

Memory is a bitter sweet thing. The past doesn't go anywhere. We carry it around with us. But years on,  Memory can be more painful as the distance of Time grows, fading connections can become more painful and absences feel more acute. The gradual letting go is the hardest and most difficult part of all. It takes Time and there aren't really any short-cuts, easy ways out or quick fixes. It is a kinda drawn out coming to terms. I think that is why it is called Loss, and why years later when the immediate shock has gone, we can still feel things so strongly.

I'll be popping up a "Last Post" on March 27th 2013 on what would have been Billy's 56th Birthday. I'll hit my half century then too. The Whippetatthewheel Blog will be left as an info archive and a resource for people seeking details about some of the rarer material out there. I'll be starting a new blog about other stuff (not music).
Thanks to everyone for their kind comments, encouragement and supplementary material which helped this wee fan blog immensely over the years.

All the best

Sid Law

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Country Paradise

Today I recieved some great 320 rips of a couple of rare promos from the archive. I've described the uniqueness of some of the individual tracks from these before and I'm only too delighted to have been given these.
The promo CD single of Country Boy had a couple of unique tracks on it. The version of Just Cant Say Goodbye included on it is a delight, an uncluttered production with Billy giving a fine vocal performance and the overall sound untroubled by Julian Meddlesome. It's as fresh as a daisy. For ultra completeists the Billy-less Dub Mix of Heart of Glass is only to be found on this promo (which was also circulated on a 12" and 7").

The promo CD single of Pastime Paradise which slipped out just before Circa went down the tubes had a clutch of unique variants... Outernational II, Because You Love (from the at-the-time unheard Glamour Chase) plus the saxed-up US Mix of Ever Since That Day. Casting my ears back over this single's title track, I reckon some knob twiddling had gone on with Pastime Paradise on the CD, maybe just some subtle EQ-ing for radio play or maybe my ears are just getting old!

So thanks very much to Anthony for these fine packages. 

Enjoy what we have.

Sid Law

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

Up here in Scotland we've finally thawed out from four weeks of deep freeze. We succumbed to 2 burst pipes, 1 exploded radiator, a car battery freeze out, 10 days when the temperature didn't rise above -15 C and eight days of school closures. I'm just off to pop the steak pie in the oven, so today it's just a wee scan from The Face from way back in 1982. A reminder to us that summer did exist at one time. Here Billy McKenzie models a thrilling kind of black and white checked shirt and sports some knee length short trouser type things. As for Martha... why wasn't she the global superstar sex-goddess she so deserved to be?

All the best for 2011

Sid Law

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

And Finally... rebooted !

Been a case of Life getting in the way a bit recently, hence the lack of posts.

First up there is a version of “Heart of Glass” which I overlooked in my Valentine’s Day post earlier this year. It is of course the "Orchestral Accapella" Mix from the promo only version of The Temperament Mix 12” and the info and photo comes courtesy of Dom T. Many thanks.

Another Associates/ MacKenzie enthusiast, Jim D, passed on some great info regarding the Jih tracks “Take Me To The Girl” and “Come Summer Come Winter”. Mr McKenzie co-produced these for Grant McNally’s Dundee group back in 1988 and Billy provides backing vocals too. Thanks again Jim.

There is also the issue of Peach (or Peach Union if you are in the US). Pascal Gabriel formed Peach after his success with S’Express and Bomb The Bass, recruiting Paul Stratham and Lisa Lamb (she’d just had a hit with a version of The Isley Brother’s “Summer Breeze”). Pascal had worked as a producer, remixer and general knob twiddler with Billy on “Outernational” and its resulting singles. The CD “Audiopeach” was released in late 1997 and featured Billy's backing vocals on two tracks - “Deep Down Together” and “Give Me Tomorrow” (which was released as a single in Japan). The whole “Audiopeach” CD is a fine blast of techno-pop with a kind of St Etienne/ Dubstar shiny grooviness. Worth tracking a copy down.
In 1998 Paul Haig released “Listen To Me” as a limited edition 7” single (100 copies). Although the track turned up on the “Memory Palace” CD the following year, the 7” version is different and clocks in at 4.04 rather than the Memory Palace’s shorter 3.42 version.
Two demos Billy worked on shortly before his death - “Deamanda” and “Put It Right” (also known as “Let’s Rise”) are worth tracking down. I had originally written of a version of "Return To Love" which is different to that on the "Eurocentric" CD and has been circulated for fifteen years amongst Billy's fans. Someone has kindly pointed out that Destination Pop has now released this alternate version of "Return To Love" as a "single" over in Germany. The B-side track of the German single is "The Soul That Sighs" and is the same version that's on "Eurocentric". So if you want to spend nine quid getting the different version of "Return To Love" posted out on vinyl from Berlin you can contact the Destination Pop label. Or contact me here if (for comparison purposes) you want a copy of the 320 mp3 I ripped from the audio CDR I received thirteen years ago... (I actually think my CDR version is sharper sounding than the German single version, but mine suffers from a tiny sound dropout 50 seconds in which I must get in and fix).
The Billy MacKenzie of "Perhaps" was a little undecided as to which lucky lady should spar with him on "The Best Of You". Although we all know that the fairground attraction Eddie Reader finally got the gig... but Billy had a few others waiting in the queue... none other than Annie Lennox (whose contribution is a bit tentative IMHO) and the very strict Gina X. The Gina X version gets my vote every time!
There is also the unbelievably 28 year old (5.33) extended "Party Fears Two" 12” which remains uncollected as does the 30 year old original (4.30) 12” of “Tell Me Easter’s On Friday” (the version on Fourth Drawer Down is a different version to the original 12"). Makes you feel your age!

Billy’s wondrous collaboration with Barry Adamson on “Achieved In The Valley Of Dolls” (4.27) was one of the last collaborations released during Billy's lifetime. The track was universally praised as was the album it came from. The version of the track which was released posthumously on Auchtermatic (4.23) has had some of the white noise on the intro edited out - hence the different running time, but is exactly the same mix. Adamson’s album “Oedipus Schmoedipus” is a musical tour-de-force and everyone who doesn't have a copy should get themselves one. Right now! Fourteen years on from its release it still sparkles and sounds very hip. It features cameo vocal appearances from Nick Cave, Billy McKenzie, Jarvis Cocker, Miranda Sex Garden and other guests - who are all guided through a maze of great tunes, hip musical references and funky samples (plus the usual cinematic jokes) by the Godlike Mr Adamson. The entire CD is a real tour-de-force brimming with Mr Adamson's utterly groovy wit, stunning musicianship and classy production.
Jarvis Cocker’s contribution to "Eodipus Schmeodipus" is the track “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Pelvis". The song features many layered voices on its Bowie-ish “Lets Dance” style intro. And to little old me it sounds very much like Billy’s voice is one of those singing "save me from my own hand" on the song. Ironically it remains an uncredited vocal appearance but that does very much sound like Mr McKenzie in there. There is also the “Radio Friendly Mix” of Jarvis-the-Onanist's plea from the ultra-rare Eodipus Scheodipus Promo 3 12”. Anyone else figure that is Mr McKenzie's voice taking the third harmony in on the intro? Answers on a postcard please.

All the best

Happy St Andrew's Day!

Sid Law

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Outernational Extras

Between 1997 and its re-issue in 2006 my CD copy of Outernational was copied many times for other fans. I usually stuck on all the twelve inch and cd single extras from the Outernational related single releases on the CDRs I was asked for. I never charged anybody anything (even postage) and trades of rare stuff were the order of the day. The CD re-issue of Outernational had a couple of extras but missed ten or so items from that time.
First single off Outernational was "Baby" in June 1992. There were a few non album extras on the 7", 12" and CD single (and there was also a notable reduction in the number of formats which labels were willing to pay for!). We had
CD single
Baby 4.04
Sacrifice and Be Sacrificed (CH 8032 mix) 5.03
Grooveature (D 1000 mix) 5.00
Colours Will Come (US 60659 mix) 4.12 [remixed by Larry Heard]
7" single
Baby 4.04
Sacrifice and Be Sacrificed (CH 8032 mix) 5.03
12" single
Baby 4.04
Colours Will Come (Larry Heard Remix) 5.16
Opal Crush 4.31
Colours Will Come (Raw Stylus Remix) 5.02

All the tracks except "Baby" were different versions/ mixes than the ones eventually released on Outernational. I remember seeing the "Baby" video on TV a few times and I really did think that it was going to be a massive hit... but no... despite a rather cool video shot at the Scotland Street School Museum in Glasgow (you can see the M8 traffic rolling past in the background) the single stiffed just outside the top 40.

Next up for release was "Colours will Come" which was released as a single on the same day in September 1992 as Outernational was launched. Despite having already given us two versions of the track on the Baby 12", Circa decided we needed another version so that is just what we got. Three out of the four tracks on the release had been remixed by Pascal Gabriel. Trance-meister Mike Koglin tweaked and twiddled at the other, giving Feels Like The Richtergroove a lighter snappier feel than the album version.
CD single
Colours Will Come 4.25
Opal Krush 4.28
Look What You've Done 5.28
Feels Like The Richtergroove 4.01 [remixed by Mike Koglin]
7" single
Colours Will Come 4.25/Opal Krush 4.28
12" single
Colours Will Come 4.56
Opal Krush 4.26
Look What You've Done 5.28
Feels Like The Richtergroove 4.01 [remixed by Mike Koglin]

The single disappeared without a trace. I heard it played once on Radio Forth. It was poorly pressed and I had to return two copies to the record shop because they were warped. Slow initial sales for the Outernational album (released on cassette and CD only) meant that when Circa finally popped its clogs a few months after its release and their catalogue was deleted, Outernational had only shifted a few thousand copies - making it a real rare beast for many years. In interviews at the time Billy referred to Outernational as having "a glacial beauty" perhaps an accurate summation of the rate at which it was shifting units.

There were promo copies of a Pastime Paradise single which were squeezed out just as Circa went down the plug. The extra track from that (Outernational II) can be found in my June post under Unique Promo Tracks.
In my box of goodies I keep under my bed I found this little treat. A great wee interview with Billy from 1985 from Studio One (a short lived Borders TV series hosted by Muriel Gray which featured The Armoury Show and Big Country in subsequent weeks). It features a rather strange astrology reading for Billy. Eerie. Most eerie.

All the best

Sid Law

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

39 Lyon Street Kites 12"

The 39 Lyon Street Kites 12". 

Released in 1981, it features Christine Beveridge on a whispery lead vocal with Billy taking the back seat until the choruses. The Associates were allowed to release singles on other labels as long as Billy didn't sing lead vocals on the A-side. Recorded in the midst of the Situation 2 stream of singles, Kites is an atmospheric musical delight. The twelve inch version has a rolling piano intro which slides effortlessly into an utterly groovy version of Simon Dupree And The Big Sound's biggest hit.

It was released on RSO Records in a one single deal. The B-side A Girl Named Property is credited to The Associates and is the same version released on Fourth Drawer Down.

39 Lyon Street is behind the blue car (centre picture).

Billy explained some of the background to this record in a Smash Hits interview in May 1981 "Around 1976 a lot of us (including Alan Rankine, the other founder member of The Associates) were living in a flat at 39 Lyon Street in Dundee. We used to hold parties almost every night and the kind of music we used to play was sophisticated club-style music. Some of us even used to sell 1920's clothing. Christine was one of the people who lived there. When me and Rankine played the cabaret circuit we used to play the 'Kites' number. The next thing to be released by 39 Lyon Street will be a quasi-Neil Sedaka song called '18 Carat Love Affair'."

Of course things changed and we never got another 39 Lyon Street song nor did we get the projected Orbidoig album John Peel informed us that MacKenzie was producing back in October 1982.

Enjoy what we have

Sid Law