Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The A Twelve Incher

Fiction never got round to popping the second single from The Affectionate Punch out until September 1981 ( more than a year after the first). The twelve inch version of A/ Would I Bounce Back is a wonderful step up in production values and leaves behind the sparseness of the original album tracks for a much fuller sound.

When The Affectionate Punch was remixed and re-released on the back of Sulk a couple of years later, for many including Billy and Alan it was a disappointment. Billy had given up on it, re-recording a couple of half hearted vocals and leaving Mr Rankine to complete the synthy overdubs and finish the thankless mess. What came out was certainly a new take on the original album but it was not what it could have been.

This twelve inch version of A/ Would I Bounce Back shows us what a re-recorded and remixed version of The Affectionate Punch might have sounded like. It is a pity they never mixed the entire Affectionate Punch in this mould. It's still as fresh as a daisy. Great.


Sid Law


Friday, 14 August 2009

Obsession Magnificent - Studio Version

Back in early September 1985 Billy's new Associates line up recorded a session for the Janice Long Show. We were treated to Heart of Glass, Take Me To The Girl and Obsession Magnificent.
Take Me To The Girl appeared as the next Associates single a few months later in 12", 10" and 7" formats.
Heart Of Glass appeared a few years later as a single (three 12" formats, a 7" and the first Associates CD single - a tiny wee 3" one).
Obsession Magnificent was for me the stand out track from that 1985 Janice Long Session. A full tilt drum driven, bass plucking, guitar furiously twangin', jittery sequencing synths filling in all the gaps... simply a blaster of a tune. Billy's vocals are really astonishing ... Billy lends his heart wrenching lyrics to some unheard-of melodies he plucked from out of the ether and weaves a course through the locked-on playing of his Associates. It is my favourite Associates song from the Perhaps era.
Sadly, Obsession Magnificent was never given a proper release. The Janice Long Session version remains the only officially released version which has ever been available. It appeared on Radio One Sessions CD (Nighttracks 1994) and turned up again on Volume 2 of the Radio One Sessions 2 CD set (BBC Music/ Strange Fruit 2003).
However... just because Warners or Billy never saw fit to release a studio version of Obsession Magnificent doesn't mean we cant jump back to an unknown studio session (probably Sept/ October 1985) and listen to Billy and Co deliver Obsession Magnificent in truly blistering form. This is the real McCoy - a great performance.


Sid Law

Ripped at 320 kbp/s to retain the very reasonable quality of the track.


Saturday, 8 August 2009

Associated Sulk Tracks

There were a number of single releases from Sulk which featured non LP (or V2 reissue) tracks. On the flipside of the Party Fears Two single lurked an awesome version of It's Better This Way. I'm going to make no attempt to describe it other than to say that when Billy announces "That was a groovy, groovy speed" as the run out groove approaches, you realise just how on top of their game Rankine and MacKenzie were at this point. Likewise the Club Country B-side instrumental AG It's You Again (a proto version of Arrogance Gave Him Up) is a busy little piece worthy of inclusion as an extra in anybody's book. The Party Fears Two 12" remains uncollected as does the Love Hangover 12" extra track Voluntary Wishes/ Swapit Productions.

Here they are

All the best

Sid Law

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Sulk - The V2 reissue mess up

When Sulk first slipped onto my Marantz turntable some 27 years ago it flowed through my Realistic amp and out of my Wharfdale speakers in an unholy torrent like the bastard offspring of Abba, John Barry, Motown and David Bowie. Plus there was other stuff in there. Hard to hear, see or put your finger on. It didn't matter whether you were listening to the "green" side or the "blue" side, you were taken somewhere else. The sleeve showed draped park benches (one lit green, one lit blue) beneath tropical plants. Two guys looked up as if you were imposing, interrupting their conversation and kinda challenging you to pull up a park bench and shoot the breeze.
And the music? Well to me it was one of those records you just dont interrupt. You had to hear the complete side, the whole lot before you could possibly lift the needle and take it back to hear something again or turn it over. The tunes, the arrangements, the lyrics, the vocals were simply gobsmacking. Plus with all the weird noises, swooshes, murmurs and end-of-track echoey, gushing weirdness... you simply didn't want to miss anything. The whole thing had a feel. One song flowed into the next. A masterpiece.

In 1988 a really shabby CD version of Sulk slipped down onto the Armitage Shanks. It was the US version with tracks missing, awful remixes, machete-cut edited versions, everything in the wrong order and some songs dragged in from the Fourth Drawer Down album. The whole thing was a bit of a huff... but a proper Sulk it was not. Though it did mean you could have a CD version of "Skipping"...

When Sulk was finally given a UK CD release in the V2 re-issue schedule back in 2001 I rushed out and snapped it up. Of course the CD didn't have a green side or a blue side anymore but you didn't have to get out of your chair and turn a slab of vinyl over either. Plus it did have lots of extra tracks. Seven to be exact (including the non album single "Love Hangover/ 18 Carat Love Affair" and the previously unreleased songs "Australia" and "Grecian 2000"). Billy MacKenzie's biographer Tom Doyle wrote the liner notes and confidently informed us "the original ten tracks are presented in their UK released form, with none of the lumpen overdubs, tracklist shuffles or remixes that marred the US version".

This was, of course, utter pish. Tom either didn't listen to the V2 re-issue or wasn't acquainted with the original to which he was referring. Because on the 2001 reissue V2 had dumped us with a crapola 4.50 edit of "Club Country" in place of the original 1982 5.32 UK-released version. On the original UK Sulk, the 5.32 "Club Country" snaked the listener between the hysterical paranoid drive of "Party Fears Two" and the euphoric coda that was "nothinginsomethingparticular". The very idea that Michael Dempsey (Associates bassist who supervised the V2 reissue programme) would have dumped the original UK 5.32 version (with its whole minute long wriggly, sliding bass groove and teasing synthy breakdown/ buildup mid-section) and substituted a shabby, inferior edit seems bizarre. His work ("compiling, co-ordinating and digitally remastering") on the Associates reissues has been exhaustive and he has given us some scintillating extras. I mean you would think of all the albums he would have got Sulk right... yeah?

Well he didn't. So we never got the original UK Sulk on the otherwise jam-packed-with-extras V2 reissue. We got an edited version of Sulk. I recieved no response to any of my communications with V2. So if they wont put things right I will. This version has never appeared on anything but the original UK vinyl and cassette versions of Sulk back in 1982. Here is the original "Club Country" from the original UK version of "Sulk" in its original 5.32 state. I've tossed in the 6.59 otherwise unavailable, fully weirded-out, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink 12" mix too. Enjoy!

Cheers for now

Sid Law