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

Fire In Da House!

August 1990 and Circa were keen to recoup. April's single Fever had not delivered and pressure to prise a hit out of the Wild and Lonely album was mounting. Fire to Ice was next up for release as a single. Again a multiple slew of formats gushed out of the corporate machine in the form of cassingle, 7”, 10”, 12”and a CD single.

The UK 12” claims to be an "extended remix version" but at 4.34 it clocks in at the same length as the original album version. Maybe there is a wee bit of tweaking the knobs or re-EQ-ing in the 12" production but not much of a difference. The many formats yielded a few non-album songs which were collected for the CD re-issue and you can find them all there.
Across the pond in the USA, where Wild And Lonely was released by Charisma, the Fire To Ice single was remixed by house and nu-groove supremo Bobby Konders and released on a 12” single. Featuring no less than six clubby Konders mixes, the 12” takes the listener on a pleasant ramble through some tinkling, jazz-infused piano house.
In addition, the US release of Wild And Lonely has a different version of Ever Since That Day which features a trumpet/ sax solo (at 3.11 – 3.34) which didn’t appear on the UK Circa release.

All the best

Sid Law

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Just Cant Say Goodbye

It was Summer 1990. Glasgow was European City of Culture. In May Luciano Pavarotti had performed his hit single “Nessun Dorma” to 12,000 ticket holders at the SECC. A month later on the 3rd of June, somewhere between a quarter and half a million music fans ground Scotland to a halt, attempted to drink Glasgow dry and later that evening bottled Sheena Easton off the stage at Glasgow Green. Yup I’m talking about The Big Day - Glasgow’s Year of Culture nod to the masses. A free concert featuring everyone from Maria McKee, Texas, Aswad and The Associates to Big Country, Deacon Blue and – briefly - Sheena Easton
The Big Day was massive. There were stages dotted all around the city. The Associates played the George Square stage in the afternoon. It was packed and Billy and his 1990 band of Associates performed a great wee four-song set featuring Fever, Give, Club Country and Just Cant Say Goodbye. The sound was great. A Scottish television channel was broadcasting it and I had my very first video recorder running back at my flat taping it. I had taken out a rental package for this very purpose from Glen’s, Robertson’s, Hutchison and Stepek.

Later that night, after Big Country and Deacon Blue had blown the stage away on Glasgow Green, myself and my cronies staggered back to the flat only to find that my footage of the Associates set had been cruelly cut short by an advertising break. One of the adverts was for Glen’s, Robertson’s Hutchison and Stepek. The irony was not lost on me.
When the station had gone to an advertising break the stage cameras were just put down and left running. Luckily the live audio feed was saved so twenty years on we can see most of and hear all it. The Associates play what later (in Jan 1991) would be their last ever single at their last ever gig. As far as I am aware this was Billy MacKenzie's last public stage performance too.

The song had been a live favourite since 1985 and is on a few mid eighties bootlegs. When the single appeared it arrived on cassette single, 7", CD and two 12" ers. Aside from the regular 7" mix and b-sides like 1,2,3 and I'm Gonna Run Away From You (which were collected on the Wild And Lonely CD re-issue) we had exclusive mixes. And yes, once more it was those Teutonic techno knob-twiddlers Thomas Fehlman and those Marathon chaps AKA Time Unlimited AKA Moritz Von Oswald and Ralf Hertwig. All three (Fehlman, Von Oswald and Hertwig) were members of Palais Schaumburg alongside Holger Hiller (who recorded the "Whippets" single with Billy) . Those Krautrock connections and Germanic leanings just keep turning up.

On the first 12"
1. Time Unlimited Mix (7.23) Remixed by Marathon/Thomas Fehlman
2. Time Unlimited Piano Mix (6.57) Remixed by Marathon/Thomas Fehlman
3. US Mix (4.59) Remixed by Julian Meddlesome
On the second 12"
1. Time Unlimited Instrumental Mix (7.09) Remixed by Marathon/Thomas Fehlman
2. Karma Mix (6.04) Remixed by Marathon/Thomas Fehlman
On the CD single
1. Time Unlimited Piano Mix (6.42) Remixed by Marathon/Thomas Fehlman
2. US Mix Remixed by Julian Meddlesome
Despite being a very respectable sounding single and having the slew of dance remixes and formats, the single stiffed. It was played in the background during an argument in the Queen Vic on Eastenders one dark night in January 1991.
It was an ironic yet fitting title for the Associates to bow out on. Then that was it. Goodbye. No more Associates.

All the best

Sid Law

Thursday, 5 August 2010

A Few That Slipped Through The Net

Okay maybe if I’d planned this blog properly it would run effortlessly from A to Z via all points in between, creating a spiders web of posts and links chronologically snaring and cataloguing everything the re-issue schedules missed. But I’m afraid I don’t work like that. So here are a few things which none of us should really be without.
I was listening to the V2 CD re-issue of “Fourth Drawer Down” last night and I realised that The “Original Version” of Q Quarters remains forever shipwrecked on the B-side of the Q Quarters 12”. With a weird beat driven intro it is a sparse, haunting version which has somehow managed to add even more paranoia and at the same time prove that less is more. This is a gem from a time when Billy and Alan were pumping out the Situation Two series at a rate of knots while sustaining levels of quality, experimentation and sheer sonic brilliance which no other band has (in my ever so humble opinion) approached.
On a more mundane note… and just before we all get over-excited… the version of “A Girl Named Property” on the original vinyl of “Fourth Drawer Down” (which claims to be 5.25 on the Sit 2 record label) is exactly the same length as the version which appears on the V2 re-issue (which comes in at 4.56). It is a 1981 labelling error so we can all calm down.

Leap ahead to the “Perhaps” era. Lurking on the B-side of “Those First Impressions” 12 incher is a great instrumental version of “13 Feelings”. Totally different to the instrumental version which came on the cassette version of “Perhaps”, this one has the feel of the original “Perhaps” recordings. It has a BIG sound – edgy, shiny and shimmering with something which got lost in the endless re-recording and remixing which eventually produced the “Perhaps” we all know and… errr... are familiar with. Production credits are to Billy MacKenzie and Mark Arthurworry. Steve Reid gets the sole writing credit. I wish “Perhaps” could be rammed back through the mixing desk and come back out sounding like this.
Then there is the “Breakfast” 12” package. The title track has a slightly different mix to the album version. We also get “Breakfast Alone” - an instrumental version. Then the blistering version of “Kites”- I wonder why Warners didn’t slap this on the “Perhaps” re-issue as an extra. But they didn’t.

All the best

Sid Law