Feb 22, 2012

RhoDeo 1208 Aetix

Hello, it's that time of the week again...nostalgia,,,Aetix still sprouts wonders of the past, when governments weren't obsessed with controlling it's citizens and protecting the rights of companies. Something went very wrong in these past decades, individuals have become numbers and statistics. Maybe all that is partly underlying the attraction of those good old Aetix days (and nights).

Now things have never been that rosy in the music industry and todays band is testament to that, after a brilliant start things got sketchy and slowly petered out, culminating in the sad suicide of Billy McKenzie 15 years ago. Talent had nothing to do with it, controlling emotions did, something which costs many an artist his or her life.

So today part 1 of the Associates story all neatly remastered after Billy's death ah yes those crows...

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Mackenzie and guitarist Alan Rankine met in Dundee (Scotland) in 1976 and formed the cabaret duo The Ascorbic Ones. In 1979 they recorded songs under the name of Mental Torture before finally changing their name to The Associates. They released a self-funded 7" of Boys Keep Swinging mere weeks after David Bowie had released his original. This scam got them a publishing deal with Bowie's publishers and a proper record deal. By 1980 they were touring with The Cure, and signed to Fiction Records, for whom they recorded The Affectionate Punch.

At the turn of the year they relocated to Situation 2 and put out a string of singles, later compiled on the album Fourth Drawer Down, recorded using money from major labels who were expecting demos to be produced with their cash... In tandem with their increasing consumption of coke and speed, the groups' music became increasingly deranged and experimental. John Murphy and Mike Dempsey (ex-The Cure) became official members.

The Associates signed with WEA in 1982. Martha Ladly joined as back-up singer. Billy and Alan immediately scored a string of UK top 20 chart hits. The album Sulk made the UK top 10, winning album of the year awards in the UK music press. The groups drug use was at a peak - Billy & Alans behaviour was becoming somewhat erratic. On the eve of their biggest ever UK tour MacKenzie pulled out. A US deal with Island was consequentially lost. Deciding that he couldn't continue, Alan Rankine left the group. From this moment on, The Associates were to be just that: Billy MacKenzie solo, with different associates for each release.

MacKenzie started recording a follow up album. 1984s Perhaps cost WEA £250,000. It took 3 years and 4 production teams to record - twice (dissatisfied with the original production Billy "lost" the first versions' master tapes, forcing a re-recording). The album had some chart success, but WEA were dissatisfied, and started pressuring MacKenzie to follow a more straightforward pop-soul direction. Frustrated by WEA's lack of support, MacKenzie focussed on collaborations, most notably with Yello (featuring on One Second, Flag, Baby and writing The Rhythm Divine).

1988's comeback single, a cover of Blondie's Heart Of Glass, failed to chart. WEA refused to release its parent album, The Glamour Chase, and with MacKenzie over a million pounds in debt to the label The Associates were dropped. Circa quickly signed MacKenzie and in 1990 released Wild And Lonely, the last album of original music under the The Associates name. 1992's album, the Thomas Fehlmann / Boris Blank-produced Outernational was issued under the artist name Billy MacKenzie. Even though the album had good reviews in the press and Baby was single of the week in Melody Maker, the album stiffed - partially due to Circa winding down operations.

Aside from an aborted Associates reunion with Alan Rankine in the mid-90s, MacKenzie remained a solo artist, collaborating in the 90s with Peach, Barry Adamson, Paul Haig and Apollo Four Forty amongst others. At the end of 1996, after four years without a deal, he signed with Nude Records. Tragically his first release for the label was a post-humous one. The death of his mother in 1996 was likely the trigger of an emotional breakdown that led him deeper and deeper into a depressed state. Billy MacKenzie died aged 39, on 22nd January 1997 from an overdose of prescribed and over-the-counter pills.

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All ten songs on The Affectionate Punch are nearly swollen with ambition and swagger, yet those attributes are confronted with high levels of anxiety and confusion, the sound of prowess and hormones converging head-on. It's not always pretty, but it's unflaggingly sensational, even when it slows down. Having debuted with a brazen reduction of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging" to a spindly rumble, multi-instrumentalist Alan Rankine and vocalist Billy Mackenzie ensured instant attention and set forward with this, their first album.

The album is markedly different from both the Associates darker, more experimental recordings and their later watery dense production style as made famous on Sulk and Fourth Drawer Down. The album has an angular guitar sound and gated drums very similar to other late 70's/early 80's Post-punk records. However Alan Rankine's expansive musical arrangements and Billy Mackenzie's multiple octave voice seen on those later recordings are in place.

Though the subject matter of the duo's songs would later veer into the completely inscrutable, there's some abstract wordplay here that scans like vocal exercises at its most surreal. When Mackenzie runs through the alphabet in "A," he could be singing in code about the butterflies of love. Rankine, with help from drummer Nigel Glockler and a background appearance from then labelmate Robert Smith, covers most of the other stuff, specializing in spare arrangements that can simultaneously slither and jump, crosscut with guitars that release weary chimes and caustic stabs, as well as the occasional racing xylophone.

The album was remixed and re-released 1982 by order of the Associates new record company Warners. The remixed record retained all the old tracks but was given typical 80's production values such as new synthesizers and Billy Mackenzie re-recorded some vocals. Both Mackenzie and Rankine expressed distaste with the results.

The Associates - The Affectionate Punch (flac 344mb)

01 The Affectionate Punch 3:30
02 Amused As Always 4:20
03 Logan Time 4:11
04 Paper House 4:53
05 Transport To Central 5:02
06 A Matter Of Gender 4:30
07 Even Dogs In The Wild 3:22
08 Would I… Bounce Back 3:59
09 Deeply Concerned 3:37
10 A 3:57
Bonus Tracks
11 You Were Young 4:07
12 Janice 2:34
13 Boys Keep Swinging (Mono) 3:40
14 Mona Property Girl 3:26

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Alan Rankine and Billy Mackenzie recorded 6 singles for Beggars Banquet imprint Situation 2 in 1981 at Playground Studios. These recordings would prove to be the most outworldly and avant-garde of the band's career. The angular production of The Affectionate Punch had been dropped in favour of vast dark electronic soundscapes. Everything from a typewriter as a back beat to coughs and sonar pings were used for musical effect. Mackenzie sung through a vacuum cleaner hose for the song "Kitchen Person" to obtain an intense compressed sound. Various drugs were consumed in the frenzied sessions which ended up in Rankine and Mackenzie's hospitalisation after accidentally snorting 5 grams of methamphetamine during the recording of the b-side "Straw Towels".. The U.K. wing of V2 thankfully made Fourth Drawer Down part of their 2000 reissue campaign, improving the sound and adding five extras, including other B-sides and unreleased tracks from the era. The plodding Talking Heads sound-alike "Fearless" and decent "Point Si" are unearthed with good reason, and the charging murk of "Straw Towels" is almost as excellent as "The Associate." The programmed, insect-like percussive devices that provide anchor for the instrumental "Kissed" seem to predate the minimal techno acts on the Chain Reaction label by 15 years. As with the update of Sulk released the same year.

The Associates - Fourth Drawer Down ( flac 404mb)

01 White Car In Germany 5:31
02 A Girl Named Property 4:58
03 Kitchen Person 4:53
04 Q Quarters 4:57
05 Tell Me Easter's On Friday 4:32
06 The Associate 4:59
07 Message Oblique Speech 5:35
08 An Even Whiter Car 4:47
09 Fearless (It Takes A Full Moon) 3:38
10 Point Si 5:15
11 Straw Towels 5:16
12 Kissed 6:12
13 Blue Soap 3:52

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The edition of Sulk which was the most common to find while record shopping throughout the late '80s and '90s was originally the American issue. Heavy substitution and track reordering -- a typical enough move on the part of American companies no matter what the act -- resulted in a radically different record. For some strange reason, the European  issue of the album relied on this American edition, something only finally rectified as part of an overall reissue program in 2000. All this said, while this second edition sacrifices some of the quirky edginess of the original, collecting all the major hit singles that made the band such a distinctive U.K. chart presence in the early '80s certainly isn't a problem at all. All changes and switches aside, it's still very much the Associates at probably the best period of their career. Mackenzie's impossibly piercing cabaret falsetto rivals that of obvious role model Russell Mael from Sparks, while Rankine's ear for unexpected hooks and sweeping arrangements turns the stereotypes of early-'80s synth music on their heads. The bass work from ex-Cure member Michael Dempsey isn't chopped liver either, and the result is a messy but wonderful triumph no matter what version is found.

The Associates - Sulk (flac 477mb)

01 Arrogance Gave Him Up 3:01
02 No 5:49
03 Bap De La Bap 4:18
04 Gloomy Sunday 4:11
05 Nude Spoons 4:21
06 It's Better This Way 3:29
07 Party Fears Two 5:12
08 Club Country 4:48
09 Skipping 4:02
10 Nothinginsomethingparticular 2:19
11 Love Hangover 6:13
12 18 Carat Love Affair 3:40
13 Ulcragyceptimol 4:30
14 And Then I Read A Book 4:26
15 Australia 3:18
16 Grecian 2000 3:27
17 The Room We Sat In Before 3:28

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ric said...

Day or night, morning or evening, seven days a week, same message on megashare: All download slots for this link are currently filled..
What a mess..Any chance for another link ? Cheers

Mike said...

Thanks for posting some great stuff! I have a soft spot for the Associates - they were awesome and such a shame Billy topped himself.
The link for 'Punch' does not seem to work - any chance of a refresh pls?
Thanks again!

Rho said...

Oops as it happens i just noticed i forgot to enter the link and have rectified the mistake just now.

as for Megashares i wonder if they've decided to disconnect the States to protect themselves from the US fascist goons. I will ad another Sulk link

Anonymous said...

Hi, Rho. I'm one year late for the party, and the netkups link to the Sulk flacs has been 'deleted due to inactivity'. I know re-ups can be a hassle, but would you be willing to re-up it once again? I'd be forever grateful. Many thanks in advance and all the best to you!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Rho. Managed to get it from megashares! Fantastic, many thanks! Curiously, the included artwork is that for the German CD (i.e., "the US version" of Sulk). Do you actually have the German CD? Would you be willing to flac it and share it? I've heard it's sonically superior to the V2 remaster (which is LOUD and compressed. Both are out of print now. Many thanks in advance and all the best to you.

A Liebeskind said...

Hello Rho,

It looks like I'm years too late to download this album in FLAC, but if you still have it by any chance, would you please consider uploading it again?

The song "Even dogs in the wild" alone would be plenty, as it is the song that I'm so desperately looking for. :( Everywhere I go they only have the remixed version..

Anonymous said...

Hi Rho

I've been trying to download "The Affectionate Punch" through the different hosting sites, having no luck with any them.

I hope I haven't made a mistake. If I haven't, is it possible to re-up the album?

Many thanks

Anonymous said...

Hello any chance of a FLAC re-up?

Thank you!

AliBoingo said...

Many thanks for this - do you have The Peel Seesions CD?

Anonymous said...

Just a shot in the dark here, and I realize I'm early for a re-up request on it, but my request has a slight "angle" to it - do you happen to have a copy of the original German CD version of Sulk, that contained the original US LP mix and tracklisting? If so, that would be awesome to have.

Anonymous said...

Hi - would it be possible to re-up The Associates please? Many thanks.