Posted by: cueballcol | January 22, 2008

AWAKE ME: REMEMBERING BILLY MACKENZIE

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It was on this day, 22nd January 1997, that Dundee singer songwriter Billy Mackenzie overdosed on prescription drugs in his father’s garden shed. At the time I was 20 years old and had probably never heard of Billy or The Associates, the band he formed with Alan Rankine in 1979. If you had played me his back catalogue of songs at that time I may have been able to recognise Club Country, but there is no doubt that I would have picked out their, for me, crowning achievement Party Fears Two. Have a listen…

Luckily for my future listening pleasure I met my wife the following year, who had been an Associates fan since the first time they had appeared on Top of the Pops performing the above song. Since then we have added to her vinyl collection with the remaining back catalogue of solo Billy Mackenzie albums on CD and have found the quality of his voice and writing to be prevalent throughout his entire body of work. To hear his voice once is to never forget it. His range was truly outstanding and his use of it is at once unique and masterful.

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Last year we had the pleasure of attending a tribute concert for Billy in aid of the Sound Seekers charity at the Shephards Bush Empire in London, where the likes of Apollo 440, BEF (ex Heaven 17) and Electric Soft Parade peformed a couple of their own songs along with a Billy/Associates cover. The highlight of the night for me was a slowed down version of Party Fears Two by BEF, performed with raw emotion by lead singer Glenn Gregory. It was also heartening to see such a large crowd gathered together with similar passions, it was a great night.  Check out the interview with Glenn Gregory following the performance…

I’ve just finished listening to Sulk, my personal favourite Billy album. If you only ever buy one Associates album then I’d recommend it be this one, it’s one of the best albums of the eighties, quality from start to finish. If you should decide to go from there and discover more about the music and the man then check out the links at the bottom of this post. I’ll always be glad I did. Thanks Billy.

LINKS

Billy Mackenzie Tribute Site
Billy Mackenzie at Wikipedia
Yahoo Group
The Affectionate Bunch

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