Saturday, 30 January 2010

Anacostia Bay

In 1996 I was walking down Cockburn Street in Edinburgh when I saw a 12" in the window of a record shop. It was a kind of specialist shop for DJs and techno freaks. I usually frequented Fopp!, Lizard or Avalanche, but the name slapped across the 12" meant I simply had to go in and buy it. The 12" was credited to "Loom featuring Billy MacKenzie" and a CDEP featuring four versions of the track was also on sale. I went back home clutching both items (I just saw a copy of the CDEP for sale at $120 today!). Loom's members Bent Recknagel and Ralph P. Ruppert (AKA Headman) were London based and ran the Millenium label. Billy MacKenzie heard their instrumental track on a cassette and sang "At The Edge Of The World" over it, his melody and lyrics locked in perfectly. MacKenzie contacted them, visited their studio on the Portobello Road in London and the track was finished in half an hour. The result was quickly released.

The song "At The Edge Of The World" had been recorded with Alan Rankine back in 1993 at the Auchterhouse reunion demo sessions. In 1996 the song was still unreleased in any official form. Over the years Billy had also worked on the song with Steve Aungle which later led to some confusion over authorship. The title of the song for the Loom release had become Anacostia Bay "At The Edge Of The World" or "Anacostia Bay" (At The Edge Of The World) probably to differentiate authorship from the Rankine/ Aungle versions of the song for publishing reasons. To add to the confusion "Steve Neugal" is credited with Additional Keyboards and Programming on the Berlioz Mix of the Loom track! The track also features a little snippet of a whispered (female?) vocal sample which I cannot discern (it glides in at 3.27, 3.33 and 3.37). Answers on a postcard please. The Anacostia River is in Washington DC (where it flows into Chesapeake Bay), the title might be a reference to Billy's visit to Washington during his 1990 Wild And Lonely promotional tour of the US.
An 8.32 edited version of the Loom track was released on the posthumous Auchtermatic CD in 2004. The original track is an exquisite 12.44 piece of electronica with Billy giving a performance which can stand next to any of his career highs. I was bowled over when I first heard this fourteen years ago. It still bowls me over!
All the best

Sid Law

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