Saturday, 28 May 2016

Win : Super Popoid Post Punkers

Davy Henderson, following the dissolution of Fire Engines in 1981, formed the short-lived Heartbeat with Hillary Morrison -the band's only release being a track on an NME compilation cassette*- before setting up Win with with an ex-Fire Engine Russell Burn (Drums/Keyboards), Ian Stoddart (Bass), Emmanuel "Mani" Shoniwa (Guitar/Bass), Simon Smeeton (Guitar/Bass) and Willie Perry (Keyboards) in 1983. Much more pop-orientated than Fire Engines the band should been massive but despite commercial success in Scotland, Edinburgh's finest super popoid post-punkers never made the big time further afield.

Quite incredible when you think of and listen to they amazing records they released. Tracks like "Super Popoid Groove" -a song that would make anything by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of Tears For Fears pale into insignificance- "Un-American Broadcasting" -with it's wee Kraftwerk-like "Numbers" bit in the mix, as well as "You've Got The Power" (featured in a McEwans lager advert in the mid-80s), and the fab "Shampoo Tears". The band really were the proverbial dog's bollocks popwise.

After half-a-dozen or so singles and two albums the band disbanded in 1989.
Henderson went on to form The Nectarine N°9 and later, The Sexual Objects.

Photo: The 12-inch "Un-American Broadcasting" with it's Starspangled Banner sticker cover art - Swamplands (SWX 5), 1985

* The track is 'Spook Sex' (produced by Bob Last). It's featured on the NME Racket Packet tape (NME 006)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Fuck

The inside the of JAMC 'Fuck' sleeve features 'The John Lennon Lost Tapes' and includes a nice, family album snapshot of John, Cynthia, and baby Julian.

Next up should have been a wee post on the Associates 'Sulk' album but I haven't got round to it yet. It's been a busy week workwise. *sigh*
Anyhow, the other day while raking through my vinyl I came across this Jesus and Mary Chain 'Fuck' bootleg that I've had for years. I recall posting a photo at Flickr -which I recently updated with the one included here. The disc was released on the shady, Italian, El Topo label. Label based apparently in Milan if you go by the address on the back of the sleeve. Half the tracks are from a show at Birmingham NEC; from the mid 80s, I imagine, but am not sure. The other half are from early John Peel Sessions by the band in 1984 & 1985. The vinyl is the sort of marbled purple colour you would get if you overdose on Vimto and Greggs' sausage rolls then throw up. The sound quality, to say the least, is appalling.

In fact, the only thing remotely interesting about this disc is the sleeve. The front cover features a photo of the band; lounging on some beach in Portugal apparently -or so I've been informed. Jim and William, wearing their mandatory leather breeks, in the forefront and Douglas Hart and Bobbie Gillespie a few feet behind them. William and Douglas strumming their guitars while Jim and Bobbie look as if they've just been forced to drink a pint of vinegar. Each.

What's most interesting about the sleeve though is that it's made from a recycled "The Lost Lennon Tapes" cover. Sleeve that's been turned inside out to print the JAMC one on the other side! Looking inside the cover will give you more pleasure than listening to this absolutely dreadful recording.

 Apparently, 'Fuck' has also been released as "The Genius of The Jesus And Mary Chain" (sic) on the same label with the same catalogue number. Probably with the same sleeve as well.

Strictly for die-hard fans only.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Associates - The Affectionate Punch Remix Album

A couple of years after the initial release of the Associates 'The Affectionate Punch' album, a new "remixed" version album arrived in the shops. Apparently the band's new record company, Warner Bros., was dissatisfied with the original mix and wanted it beefed up a bit for re-release. All of the tracks were kept but more of an 80s production model was demanded by WB. New sythesizers and re-recorded vocals by Billy McKenzie were thrown in to boost the original recording. Some record company executive probably thought this was necessary but McKenzie and Rankine's viewpoint somewhat differed. Both are said to have been unhappy and more than annoyed with the result. Frankly, I don't see the point in re-recording this album at all. The original album is fine.

Also, the artwork was completely different from the original (See previous post). This time the cover features portraits by Alan MacDonald of Rankine (front) and McKenzie (back) shot and lit up by some porn-district red light effect -supposedly to give them some sort of seedy appearance, I imagine. The portraits take up 2/3rds of the cover on each side. The band name and album title appearing on the large black horizontal band that covers the top tier of the side with Rankine. Flipside this black band is placed vertically to the right of McKenzie; the album title remains horizontal, stopping short of the singer's face. Boths pics are rather fetching; McKenzie with a sullen, bored-to-tears look whereas Rankine has what appears to be the onset of a wry smile.
The back sleeve is also upside down. Both sides might have been intended as the front cover though I've really no idea if this was indeed the case. Besides this, the album cover has no track listing; this is printed on the inner sleeve along with the production, sleeve design, and photography credits. For the anecdote; the insert lists the tracks in the correct order but on the wrong sides.

Original recording, Morgan Studios, London 1980.
Re-recording and Remixing: Basing Street & Odyssey Studios, London 1982
Remixed and Produced by Associates / Mark Arthurworrey
Sleeve is credited to Billy McKenzie, Alan MacDonald and Baillie Walsh.

Fiction Records FIXD5
Fiction Records 2383 585

A third version: a mix of the original and the remix version, with about half the tracks from the original album and the rest from the remix one, was also released in 1983.
Reissued as a mid-price album with the same cover as the remix version but with tracks listed on the back sleeve. Once again the tracks are in the correct order but on the wrong sides.

Fiction SPELP 33

Remixed versions of "A Matter of Gender" and "A" were also released as singles in 1982.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Boys Keep Swinging - The Associates (Reissues)

When I first read/heard about The Associates it was a review their debut single in the NME; a cover of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging"; released June 1979, just a few weeks after Bowie's version hit the UK Top 10 in April of the same year.
This cover version of a track from Bowie's 'Lodger' -third album in what's become known as the 'Berlin Trilogy'- was indeed intriguing. I never got to find a copy of this single, unfortunately, but I picked up an import copy of their debut album, 'The Affectionate Punch' (Fiction Records, 1980) as soon as it became available. My copy has "Special Price Limited Edition £2•99" embossed in gold on the front cover as well as an (horrendous) importation directe Fnac sticker; which I've never dared peel off for fear of ruining the sleeve.

For the anecdote I didn't pay £2•99 for it but almost the double at 55 french francs -more or less £5•50 at that time (August, 1980). I immediately liked the album and from then on I bought everything I could find by the band up until Alan Rankine left The Associates in 1982. Personally, I consider the 'Sulk' album as the highpoint of their career albumwise but they released some really fabulous singles. Singles which, for some unknown reason, I could never find in the 7-inch format but only in the 12-inch ones! My all time favourite Associates track being the hauntingly beautiful, 'White Car in Germany'. A single graced by it's superb Antoine Giacomani cover photograph of the lads immersed in a blue pool. Photograph from the same photo shoot as the cover of the 1981 Situation Two singles collection, 'Fourth Drawer Down.'

The band had formed in 1976. At first, Billy McKenzie and Alan Rankine had called themselves The Ascorbic Ones. Name was later changed to Mental Torture before finally becoming The Associates in 1979. From then on, for the next three years or so, The Associates were among my favourite bands. In my mind, those years were undoubetdly the band's best as well as being the period when they released their finest recordings.

After the departure of Rankine my interest in them began to wane though I did pick up a few of their later releases. MacKenzie continued to work under the name for several years before eventually going "solo" in the early 90s.

From what I've read or heard of it, Rankine leaving the band prior to the Sulk tour proved to be disastrous for the band's career. Apparently, at the time, the band was being courted by Seymour Stein of Sire Records -which could have really helped them make some impact in the USA- but with Rankine leaving and Mackenzie's unwillingness to tour, Stein lost interest in them.
The Associates joined the ranks of those great bands that never quite made it. Nor did the band make any records as good as the ones recorded between 1979 & 1982. I have to admit though that I am rather fond of later releases such as 'Waiting For The Love Boat' and their cover of Blondie's 'Heart of Glass'
Music journalist, critic, and author, Simon Reynolds, in his book 'Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984,' called The Associates the "great should-have-beens of British pop." Contenders but never quite champions.

In 1993, Rankine and McKenzie began working on new material together but this never came to anything and they split for good. Sadly to say, we'll never get to hear McKenzie's distinctive high tenor voice again as a few years later, suffering from clinical depression, he committed suicide in 1997 at the desperately young age of 39.
Rankine meanwhile established himself as a producer, working with artists such as Paul Haig, Cocteau Twins, and The Pale Fountains. Also continuing his career in music with Les Disques du Crépuscule -releasing four albums and five singles on the Belgian label. He later worked as a lecturer in music at Stow College in Glasgow and with Belle and Sebastian on their 1996 debut album, Tigermilk. Rankine also appears in 'Big Gold Dream (The Sound Of Young Scotland 1977 – 1985)' documentary by cinematographer and director Grant Mcphee which was released last year.

The Associates albums; The Affectionate Punch, Sulk, and Fourth Drawer Down are to be reissued as two-CD deluxe editions, on May 20th.
All three include 28 page booklets featuring in-depth liner notes, unpublished photographs, original promotional material and unseen memorabilia from The Associates’ archive.

Sulk is also available on vinyl.

Also available a new double-disc anthology: ‘The Very Best of the Associates’ which includes their biggest hits “Party Fears Two” and "Club Country" as well as 3 previously unreleased tracks.

All available from any good record store or from the usual suspects online.