Sunday, 27 June 2010

Unique Promo Tracks

By summer 1988 "The Glamour Chase" recording was completed, the pressure was on, the multi-formatted "Heart of Glass" single had stiffed badly and Warners were looking for some way to recoup around a million quid which had been poured into MacKenzie's lavish recording schedules. Billy delivered the record company "Country Boy" as the next single.

Perhaps the most off-the-wall recording in all of MacKenzie's lush career. Powered by an elastic band bassline, an echoey beatbox and featuring some exotic Tyrolean close harmony barbershop backing vocals by Die Zwei (who also wrote and produced the track) the song has a heart wrenching vocal performance form Billy.
Die Zwei consisted of Gerd and Udo Scheuerpflug who had released "Countryboy" as a single back in 1985.
Hear Die Zwei in full action here, performing "Western Union" a track on their "Countryboy " 12".

I dont think for one minute Billy thought of "Country Boy" as a contender for a top ten single for the Christmas of 1988 (though it would have been a thing of wonder to see Billy and Die Zwei performing on the same bill as Angry Anderson knocking out "Suddenly" and Cliff Richard doing "Mistletoe and Wine" ). The charts had been bouncing all year with SAW's Hit Factory and the emerging UK house scene was throwing the likes of Inner City, Yazz and S'Express some credible chart action. My suspicion is that Billy could see the way the wind was blowing at Warners and was throwing an elaborately wrought and beautiful spanner in the works on his way out of the swing doors. Five thousand promo 12"ers and CDs were pressed up for a December 1988 release.

Nestling on the promo "Country Boy" CD was a unique version of "Just Cant Say Goodbye". Classified as the "12" Mix" the song had not been featured on any Associates records up till then - although it had been a regular live favourite from 1985 onwards. The song eventually turned up on "Wild and Lonely" and became the last ever Associates single in January 1991. This early version of the song has only seen the light of day on the 1988 "Country Boy" promo 12" and promo CD. It has a real charm, its basic production at odds with the later Julian Mendelson uber production and the Marathon/Fehlman housey techno remixes.
In the end Warners never released the single, shelved "The Glamour Chase" and dropped Billy from the label, leaving him to take the infamous taxi ride back to Dundee. The "Country Boy" track did eventually appear on the "Popera" compilation a few years later and "The Glamour Chase" album in its complete and finished form was slipped out fourteen years later as a freebie in the "Perhaps" CD re-issue.

In late 1992 "Outernational" was busy not selling and a third single from it was planned - a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise". Promo CDs were issued but then Circa folded and the single was never officially released. The promo featured a mostly instrumental mix of "Outernational" called "Outernational II". It has never appeared anywhere else since.

All the best

Sid Law