Having said goodbye to Warners, Billy MacKenzie had quickly secured a deal with Circa (a Virgin offshoot) with "Wild and Lonely" being the first of two albums MacKenzie would record and release for his new label. Warners had licensed the old Associates material to East/West in order to release "Popera" - a collection of Associates singles from 1981 up to 1988.
Billy had never really liked the results of attempts to remix old Associates material before (both the remixed Affectionate Punch and the US Sulk remixes being cases in point). However, when Billy heard the four remixes which had been commisioned for an EP to accompany the Popera collection he was thrilled. Those responsible for the work were none other than Thomas Fehlmann and Marathon, some very up-to-the-minute remixers and producers who were riding the 1990 techno wave and twiddling the knobs! With two remixes each of "Club Country" and "Waiting For The Loveboat", the Popperetta EP was released to help promote the Popera compilation.
Of course Billy knew all these teutonic remixer and producer dudes from waaaay back, they had been founder members of Palais Schaumburg along with Holger Hiller (see "Whippets" post). Marathon (also known as "Time Unlimited") were Moritz von Oswald and Ralf Hertwig. Moritz von Oswald had performed drumming duties for the Associates since 1985 and played on Wild and Lonely. Fehlmann went on to become an integral part of The Orb and continues to share duties at the starship Orb controls with Dr Alex Paterson to this day. During a Radio Tay interview in 1992 Mackenzie referred to his Krautrock leanings, namechecking Kraftwerk and confessed to "even listening to Neu!". "Popperetta" was released in December 1990 on 7" and 12" (there are as yet unconfirmed reports of a CD issue as well but no-one has seen one!).
Oh yeah... and also... the unique vocal on this promo only 12"
Back in the day, in 1987, when Yello were just slipping out "One Second" they gave away a free 12" with the first 2,000 copies of the album. The version of "Call It Love" on the 12" is unique and has an utterly beautiful mix. From Billy's multi-harmonied hums on the intro... to the amazing lead vocal he contributes... from Boris Blank's immaculate production... to the seagull noises... I love it. It is a really, really groovy track. The verse Billy sings turned up later on Outernational's "Feels Like The Richtergroove" but this stonking version of "Call It Love" gives a tantalising hint as to what might lie in that mysterious box of goodies Boris Blank has hidden under his bed.
I will be sipping a glass of champagne or two over the weekend. Billy would have been 53 tomorrow. It is my birthday too!