Wednesday, 27 March 2013

It's Over, it's over, it's over....

So here we have it. The Last Post. A few years on from what I thought would be a fairly straightforward highlighting of the good stuff left outta the Associates/ Billy MacKenzie re-issues... and I realise it was far from that simple.
Stuff gets lost. Time gets in the way. Life gets in the way. Illness gets in the way. Parents die. Redundancy. New Jobs. Children grow. Family life.... But I am sure you are all as much in the thick of it as I am. Lets all just keep swimming and breathing.

This will be the last post for Whippetatthewheel. There are also many bootlegs of live shows and you can seek that stuff out easily enough...

There are still a few shiny gems uncollected in any of the re-issues. The Dennis Wheatley Mix of "Give Me Time" did re-appear on the Haig/MacKenzie Memory Palace remaster but it was edited down to 7.26 from its original 9.00 minute moody, semi-ambient electronic excursion on the very limited "Wild Is The Wind" CDEP.
There is another version of "Give Me Time" which some of you might not be aware of. It is known as the "Electro" version and was circulated between some fans in the 90's. It is a great sounding mix and the quality is excellent. A collaboration between Billy and Paul Haig and a worthy addition to any Billy or Paul Haig collection. I really like the instrumentation and arrangement.

Billy's cover of Randy Newman's "Baltimore" never popped up on any of the re-issue CDs. There were a couple of versions circulating amongst Billy fans for a number of years in the 90's. Both were in remarkably good quality, one is a string laden version (7.26) and the other is a beat driven version which clocks in at 7.35. A very similar version also turned up on the limited edition "Wild Is The Wind" CDEP in 2001.

Steve Aungle has also been working hard on his "Stolen Voices" Project for White Label. Check out his work on Soundcloud, it is remarkable. Billy, John, David, Marc, Jimmy and Jean feature amongst many others. It is a stunning project. I'd had the John acoustic number from the Beatles Escher Demos Boot years back. What Steve is doing is groundbreaking work. I love it.

 One of the most stunning things I have heard over the last few years has been Steve Aungle's re-working of "The Mountains That You Climb". This beautiful song had only ever really circulated among Billy fans in a rough studio out-take form which hinted at greatness but was forever trapped in a basic monitor mix with fluctuating vocal levels. It was a great treat to even have that. However, Steve has worked on a different version and elevated the song to a new level. A thing of beauty indeed and is now one of my favourite Billy MacKenzie/ Steve Aungle tracks. It is available to download for free from this link.

Do have a listen to what is going on with the rest of the tracks in the whitelabelstolenvoices project. It is simply beautiful. Thank you Steve. A generous touch from a musician who worked with Billy for many years. The Aungle/ MacKenzie "Eurocentric" CD (the release of which was stiffed in a bit of a shabby way IMHO) I think ranks among the best work Billy and any of his multitude of Associates ever produced. Steve's archive of Billy stories at Wordpress is a funny, enlightening and honest description of his times with Billy. It is also darkened by the sadness of losing a friend and collaborator. Steve tells of some of the mountains he had to climb during the re-issue years following Billy's death. Read 'em and weep (and laugh too!).

By the way. I came across this charming photo of Billy and Nick Cave some years back. I'm sure I recognise the young lady in the between the two gentleman... but for the life of me I cannot remember her name. Can anyone help?

Of course back at the start of everything young Billy and Alan were so unbelievably hip they were Double Hip.

And when MCA re-issued Boys Keep Swinging it was given a bit of a remix. So in the interests of completeness and  putting things to bed properly it seems only fair to draw attention to both versions... both the the Double Hip and the MCA releases... from original  vinyl of course...

The blog posts will remain as an information source only. If there are any people looking over this blog who are looking for a particular rare, commercially unavailable track or mix or whatever, I suggest they make their way to the Associates Yahoo Group, sign up and ask nicely. They are a great bunch there and I'm sure people will be glad to help.

It only remains for me to say "Goodbye" and "Thank You" all, for the kind comments, encouragement and contributions. I loved the music.... Billy, Alan and all the other Associates and collaborators were a soundtrack to much of my growing up... through my teens, twenties, thirties and forties. I just struck my half century. This blog has always been about the music that got left behind from the re-issues. I didn't want to see some of those great curiosities, rarities, weird mixes and bizarre collaborations relegated to some forgotten Past. But as we all know... the Past doesn't go anywhere... we carry it along with us. Into our future.

William MacArthur MacKenzie would have been 56 today. Happy Birthday Billy.

All the best everyone, be kind when you can...

Love on ya!

Sid Law

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Move in marches on the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

from "To The Fallen" by Laurence Binyon.

"The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long..."

Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher 6th Century BC.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Back to the Old House - the Revenge of Memory

Last week brought us back to the Dundee area. My OH is a Dronley lass, born with Auchterhouse muck on her boots. Her dear old mum, Jean,  died back in Dec 2009 and we've rarely been back up since the funeral, once was to see the gravestone in place. Not that we weren't thinking of the Sidlaws or Jean or Dundee (we have a McIntosh Patrick view of Auchterhouse Hill on our living room wall).

It was just that Work, a growing child, a Redundancy, a New Job and not actually having anywhere to stay (or even stop) in the Dundee area anymore, kinda put things on the back burner Dundee-wise for a while.
After a rainy visit to lay some flowers at Jean and Jimmy's grave in Liff Cemetery (passing the "Country Club" - Liff Hospital en-route) we headed on to our Blairgowrie Bed and Breakfast, for a few days idling in rural Perthshire.
On our return journey home we routed in a wee visit back to climb Auchterhouse Hill. It was a beautiful day. The views were panoramic taking in Carnoustie, Dundee, across the Silvery Tay lay Fife and The Lomond Hills, beyond that we could even make out The Pentlands. To the West lay Ben Lawers and Scheihallion.
Sometimes you get a sense of The Past tapping you on the shoulder. As me, my OH and the wee fella stood on the summit of Craigowl we could see her old home down below in Dronley. Someone else living there. No connection now. Just memory. Familiar surroundings and places, but no longer with any people we knew.
In the early 90's (before we'd had a our son) we'd walked up Craigowl and said "Hello" to Billy at the corner of Bonnybank Road (by the phone box) as he walked his dogs. A year or so later Billy was a memory.

We had briefly returned to Dundee back in July 2011, the approaching demolition of the Hilltown Multis was too much to resist. We returned to watch the action just for the day. Wow!

One of my OH's pals lived in the second block from the right. We hoped she'd had time to get out. We tried to cap the day off with a shot on the flumes at The Olympia but it was shut down. The last minute substitution of a wander round the play park at Camperdown was not sufficient to allay the disappointment on the wee fella's face. It was also a realisation that he was too old for most of the play equipment now. We didn't stay long at Camperdown. It was a different Life when we'd take him there with his granny. Times past. The journey home was a relief to each of the three of us, mibbe for different reasons.

Memory is a bitter sweet thing. The past doesn't go anywhere. We carry it around with us. But years on,  Memory can be more painful as the distance of Time grows, fading connections can become more painful and absences feel more acute. The gradual letting go is the hardest and most difficult part of all. It takes Time and there aren't really any short-cuts, easy ways out or quick fixes. It is a kinda drawn out coming to terms. I think that is why it is called Loss, and why years later when the immediate shock has gone, we can still feel things so strongly.

I'll be popping up a "Last Post" on March 27th 2013 on what would have been Billy's 56th Birthday. I'll hit my half century then too. The Whippetatthewheel Blog will be left as an info archive and a resource for people seeking details about some of the rarer material out there. I'll be starting a new blog about other stuff (not music).
Thanks to everyone for their kind comments, encouragement and supplementary material which helped this wee fan blog immensely over the years.

All the best

Sid Law