Thursday, September 08, 2005

Classic 12"s - Party Fears Two

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The Associates were the early '80s Scottish duo comprised of musician and studio man Alan Rankine and vocalist Billy Mackenzie. Billy had one of the most amazing voices - his soaring, diva-esque histrionics sounded like no-one else, one minute controlled and the next soaring & spiralling into the wild blue yonder. His choice of words as a lyricist often strayed from the pop norm too. It was all beautifully matched with Alan's arty dance rock, capable of pop chart brilliance and left field obscurity. The first time I heard their music was this single from their "masterwork" album Sulk called Party Fears Two (12" Version). I was flabbergasted by what I heard - lush, insanely catchy melodies paired with this voice that was so over the top that you either loved it or you didn't - there's no in between with Billy's voice. I was too compelled by it, couldn't ignore it, and promptly bought the single, the next single and then the album. To this day I still get a weird rush from this song's dramatics - it still sounds so totally unique. This was their second album, and their biggest chart success. I tried to follow them for the next couple of years but none of it matched Sulk for me. Sadly Billy committed suicide in 1997, having had great critical but not commercial success.

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