Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Radio 1 Sessions Vol 2 1984-1985 - the associates

In which Billy Mackenzie attempts to re-write Associates history. Well it was probably not his intention but launching into the speedy delivery of Associates' classics minus Alan Rankine offers a very different prospect to the originals, conveying a vague, if not quite there, sense of 'let's get these over and done with.' 'Message Oblique Speech' in particular is twisted into some almost semblance of straight forward (if murky) guitar pop without the strange undercurrents of sound created on 'Fourth Drawer Down' and 'Kites' lacks the delicate sonic flourishes of the 39 Lyon Street version, its gentleness butchered by an un-sympathetic guitar. However, the insouciance with which Billy's voice soars and spins and meanders around with the melody keeps his performance compelling as always on this second volume of songs culled from the Radio 1 archives. So here are sessions for Richard Skinner, Janice Long, Saturday Live and Phil Kennedy. More successful is a suitably melancholic version of traditional weepy 'The Crying Game' where the beauty is all in voice and unobtrusive piano, and a low key 'Dogs in the Wild' which makes it into a kind of jazz version somehow working and likewise 'Gloomy Sunday' retains an incongruously uptempo backing along with a calmer, if still dramatic, vocal. I find the cover of 'Heart of Glass' unfortunately pedestrian. 'Obsession Magnificent' is better, Billy sounding re-energised and begging the question what happened to it? The equally powerful 'Give' would eventually turn up on Wild and Lonely as 'Something's got to give' and hearing it in its earlier form breathes life into what would be trampled into submission by lacklustre production (even if the production here is not the best either). And although I am not a fan of 'Take me to the girl' it endears with its softly spoken introduction from Billy (suggesting he could have had a fantastic career as a Butlins entertainer if that had floated his boat... I'M JOKING) and the casual delivery of the song itself, although the synths in the background spoil things by sounding cheap and nasty. The last three songs also appear on 'Perhaps' in a very similar guise, it might be my ears but I couldn't discern much difference to the finished article except 'Breakfast' sounds somewhat richer, slightly more lavish. But as I say that might just be my ears.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The last three tracks are simply the album tracks which Billy took along to Phil Kennedy's Show to play alongside an interview ("Perhaps" had just been released). The tracks are IDENTICAL mixes of those on "Perhaps".