Monday, January 25, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter A, Part 9)

Sorry about the gap between posts in this series. I have been having some technical issues with the transfer project, but I think I have it sorted out now. Back by popular demand, here is a bonus post from Associates. OK, not popular demand. In fact, the first was one of my least visited posts in recent times. An acquired taste for sure, but I spent much of last evening listening to Billy MacKenzie's work while toiling with the conversion, and I'm going to stand by having a second day. I tried to dig up something the casual fan may not have on the shelf.

There are at least three versions of the "Take Me to the Girl" single from the fall of 1985. The following two songs are taken from the flip side of the 10". Billy's performance at Ronnie Scott's on Dec. 9, 1984, was thought to be for a live album that never came to fruition, but the show was shot for "Whistle Test," and some of the songs were used as B-sides and appearances on compilations. I believe you can view all of the songs performed that night on YouTube and, in particular, I recommend taking a few minutes to watch a beautiful rendition of "Breakfast." Billy's set list and band were befitting of a classy place like Ronnie Scott's, and his rousing vocals are coupled with a virtually unplugged band that included a trio of violins, piano, bass, sax and a single snare played with brushes.

"God Bless the Child" is a well-known Billie Holiday standard that has been recorded by dozens of artists. Fans from the early days of Associates will recognize the bass lines of "Even Dogs in the Wild," and it's amazing how well this song works in this environment sans guitar. These selections are for die-hard followers of Associates, but I'm hoping others will recognize and appreciate the vocal talent on display.

"God Bless the Child" (Live)
"Even Dogs in the Wild" (Live)

As an aside, since I have mentioned the album 'Perhaps' so much during these two posts, I thought I would pass along this humorous story I have read a few times from that era. Most fans know Billy loved his dogs. The great Martin Rushent was one of the producers of 'Perhaps,' and he told of his encounters with Billy's two whippets that the singer took with him wherever he went. During recording of the album, Billy would walk the dogs every morning along the paths surrounding Genetic Studios which, incidentally, was on the grounds of Martin's house. Martin would have to dodge the dogs' poo on the path between his house and his studio every day, and one day he wasn't successful. He was so mad that he brought out a dust pan and brush and made Billy clean the path. During the chore, Martin quietly snapped a photo of Billy clearing the crap. When Billy returned to the studio, Martin said that if he ever found poo on the path again he would give the picture to the music press, naming the photo Billy MacKenzie... Collecting Material For His Next Album!


Echorich said...

Brian, the few visits to the Associates post can be bolstered by the fact that it was visited by a few fans who's appreciation of Messrs. MacKenzie and Rankine should be rated 10 fold to the average casual listener. Associates never planned a career of mediocrity and were hugely successful in that.
As for Billy/Associates live at the time of the Ronnie Scott's show, I have a hard time choosing between God Bless The Child and his amazing version of The Crying Game. The latter is absolutely devastating. I can't imagine how anyone was able to recover their composure in the audience after that performance.

George said...

"Back by popular demand, " that's how popular we Dundonians are, Brian. And I speak as the most popular Dundonian in our household!

George said...

My wife's reaction to the song is, I think, a bit similar to yours when she hears Scritti Politti!

kevinpat said...

Well, I'm trying…… And in my search I found their version of the old bubblegum classic "Green Tambourine", which actually is kinda fun….. I don't think I'm quite ready for "God Bless The Child" though guys. There are some places one should never go…… :)))

Brian said...

No worries, everyone. Will be moving on later today. Thanks for giving it the old college try.

JC said...

I remember watching OGWT as those Ronnie Scott performances were aired for the first time and regetting, for the only time in my life, that I didn't live in London as that would have been the only way I'd have had the time and money to be in the audience. They were amazing.

kevinpat....if it is Billy's voice that puts you off, have a listen to some instrumentals and take it from there.

Brian said...

Thanks for adding that, JC. Cool that you remember that show so well. That one seems ripe for a DVD release from someone like Cherry Red, if they could get all of the permissions. I have watched all of the songs, and it seems like a really special performance.