News: Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue – Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89

2 11 2022

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue – Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 is a CD and vinyl compilation.

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue - Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 alum cover


The 4 CD version has 58 tracks exploring the creativity and progressive spirit of alternative British music from 1979-1989 featuring Wire, XTC, The Cure, Tears For Fears and Kate Bush. The CD and 7 LP versions include an expanded booklet (80 pages for the CD / 40 pages for the 7 LP) with extensive liner notes by James Nice and an introduction from Steven Wilson. The 2 LP version has a 12 page booklet.

The compilation was mastered by Phil Kinrade at AIR Mastering.

I presume that the idea for this compilation came from Steven Wilson & Tim Bowness’s successful, and always entertaining, The Album Years podcast. Its refreshing to see a compilation digging a little deeper, and avoiding the obvious hit singles.

Personal highlights for me include A Better Home in the Phantom Zone from Bill Nelson’s Red Noise, one of my favourite tracks from The Stranglers (the title track from their 1979 prog-punk masterpiece The Raven), Astradyne from Ultravox (here in its Steven Wilson Stereo Mix version), along with tracks from Tony Mansfield’s New Musik, post-Ultravox John Foxx, and the Associates.

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue - Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 - 4 CD

Kudos to Mr Wilson for including the extended version of I Travel from Simple Minds and the rarely celebrated Sealand by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark from their wonderful Architecture & Morality album from 1981.

SW has also chosen a couple of less obvious choices from some of the eras big-hitters – Talking Drum from Japan, Faith by the Cure, Tears for Fears Memories Fade, the sublime Brilliant Trees by David Sylvian, and Waking the Witch from Kate Bush, in its first appearance on a compilation to my knowledge.

There are also several tracks from artists who I hope can receive more attention following this collections release – namely the haunting Airwaves from Thomas Dolby’s debut album, the epic Dream Within a Dream from Propaganda, Ivy and Neet by This Mortal Coil (their trilogy is a highlight from the 80s) and a band that have given me so much pleasure over the years, Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness’s no-man with Night Sky, Sweet Earth.

Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue - Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979–89 - 2 LP

“This is my personally-curated attempt to redress the balance, and to perhaps introduce any ‘80s-sceptics out there to the idea that conceptual thinking and ambition didn’t suddenly evaporate after ’77… ambitious, weird and thrilling music was all around you in the ‘80s —if you looked in the right places.” 

Steven Wilson

Buy the 4 CD version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue on Amazon
Buy the 2 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon
Buy the 7 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon

4 CD Tracklisting

Disc: 1

I Should Have Known Better – Wire
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone – Bill Nelson’s Red Noise
Back to Nature – Magazine
Complicated Game (Steven Wilson 2014 Mix) – XTC
Careering – Public Image Limited
The Raven – the Stranglers
Puppet Life – Punishment of Luxury
Astradyne (Steven Wilson Stereo Mix) – Ultravox
Contract – Gang of Four
I Travel (Extended Version) – Simple Minds
Sketch for Summer – the Durutti Column
Health and Efficiency – This Heat
Burning Car – John Foxx
Cognitive Dissonance (Steven Wilson 2022 Mix) – Robert Fripp and the League of Gentlemen
Fatal Day – In Camera

Disc: 2

I Can’t Escape Myself – The Sound
The Eternal – Joy Division
Big Empty Field – Swell Maps
Enemies – Art Nouveau
The Joy Circuit – Gary Numan
The Gospel Comes to New Guinea – 23 Skidoo
All My Colours – Echo and the Bunnymen
Ghost Town (Extended Version) – The Specials
They All Run After the Carving Knife – New Musik
The Him – New Order
White Car in Germany (Single Edit) – The Associates
Hit – Section 25
Sealand – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Talking Drum – Japan
Faith – the Cure

Disc: 3

Three Dancers (Steven Wilson 2021 Mix) – Twelfth Night
Airwaves – Thomas Dolby
Are You Ready? – Crispy Ambulance
The Outsider – Rupert Hine
Knife Slits Water – A Certain Ratio
Memories Fade – Tears for Fears
Patient – Peter Hammill
Donimo – Cocteau Twins
In a Waiting Room – Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr Drake
Close (To the Edit) – The Art of Noise
Dalis Car – Dalis Car
Rawhide – Scott Walker
Brilliant Trees – David Sylvian
Dream Within a Dream – Propaganda

Disc: 4

Waking the Witch – Kate Bush
Ivy and Neet – This Mortal Coil
Beehead (7″ Version) – Perennial Divide
This Corrosion – The Sisters of Mercy
Ascension – O Yuki Conjugate
No Motion – Dif Juz
Gutter Busting – Slab!
Murderers, the Hope of Women – Momus
The Host of Seraphim – Dead Can Dance
R.E.S. – Cardiacs
Good Morning Beautiful – The The
Omega Amigo – The Shamen
Night Sky, Sweet Earth – No-Man
The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule – Kitchens of Distinction

Buy the 4 CD version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue on Amazon

2 LP vinyl Tracklisting

Disc: 1

A Better Home in the Phantom Zone – Bill Nelson’s Red Noise
Back to Nature – Magazine
Complicated Game (Steven Wilson 2014 Mix) – XTC
The Raven – The Stranglers
Puppet Life – Punishment of Luxury
Astradyne (Steven Wilson Stereo Mix) – Ultravox
Sketch for Summer – The Durutti Column
Health and Efficiency – This Heat
Cognitive Dissonance (Steven Wilson 2022 Mix) – Robert Fripp and the League of Gentlemen
Three Dancers (Steven Wilson 2021 Mix) – Twelfth Night

Disc: 2

Airwaves – Thomas Dolby
Knife Slits Water – a Certain Ratio
Donimo – Cocteau Twins
Beehead (7″ Version) – Perennial Divide
No Motion – Dif Juz
Gutter Busting – Slab!
The Host of Seraphim – Dead Can Dance
R.E.S. – Cardiacs
Night Sky, Sweet Earth – No-Man

Buy the 2 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon
Buy the 7 LP vinyl version of Steven Wilson Presents: Intrigue from Amazon





Billy Mackenzie – Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) review

21 02 2022

Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) is a 3 CD set from Billy Mackenzie, released by Cherry Red on 22 April 2022, re-assembling past recordings with plenty of previously unreleased songs.

Hailing from Dundee, Scotland, Billy Mackenzie formed The Associates with Alan Rankine and the band enjoyed huge critical acclaim, chart success and cult status but the pair parted company in 1983 and Billy continued to record, for a while as The Associates and also in collaboration with other musicians, as well as releasing music as a solo artist.

Around 1994, Billy met Steve Aungle. The pair sparked off each other, prompting a purple patch for making new music. Some recordings appeared on two posthumous albums, Beyond The Sun (1997) and Eurocentric (2001). A couple more surfaced on Auchtermatic (2004).

However, Steve had long felt that the recordings hadn’t been presented or sequenced appropriately and in conjunction with Cherry Red, he has curated this new triple-CD collection, which re-assembles past recordings with previously unreleased songs, including collaborations with Dennis Wheatley and Laurence Jay Cedar, who also contribute to the CD booklet notes.

Disc one in the three CD set is titled Winter Academy, and mainly features songs from Beyond The Sun and Eurocentric. This first disc is Billy at his most melancholic, with mainly down-tempo songs. It’s perfectly sequenced, with stripped back arrangements for the early songs such as the majestic Sing That Song Again, highlighting the pure magic of Billy’s vocals. Winter Academy is the Beyond The Sun mix, not the Transmission Impossible version. An ice-cold arrangement chills, with a diamond sharp vocal performance that sits so well with the strings.

Billy’s version of Wild Is The Wind is a great companion piece to David Bowie’s take on the song. They are both classic recordings, and although I’ve lived with Bowie’s version for much longer, the held note towards the end blows my mind every single time I hear Billy perform this standard.

“Like a leaf clings
To the tree
Oh my darling,
Cling to me”

Another cover is Sparks Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth, with just piano, violin and vocals. When The World Was Young features Steve Aungle on piano, and Billy on vocals. The sixties influenced layered backing vocals make the track sound so much richer, and it’s a highlight of this first disc.

Two previously unreleased songs sit in the middle of disc one. Tallahatchie Pass is a Mackenzie/Aungle composition, and is a 70s sounding arrangement. I wonder if this song is a reference to Billie Joe McAllister and the Tallahatchie Bridge referenced in Bobbie Gentry’s Ode to Billie Joe? Tallahatchie Pass is a fine song, and offers us a style not really heard from Billy before, as a tantalising hint of what might have been.

Also previously unreleased is the dark cover of Randy Newman’s Baltimore, recorded with Dennis Wheatley. This is my favourite of the “new” tracks on this disc. The beatless, discordant and reverb drenched strings and vocals deliver an absolute classic, that could have easily been included on one of Billy’s studio albums. The arrangement reminds me of the mood of Bomb The Bass’s Winter In July (minus the beats, of course). Heavenly!

“Oh, Baltimore
Ain’t it hard just to live, just to live”

I was not surprised to see Nocturne VII and Beyond The Sun appear on this compilation, and Return To Love dials in the electronica of the second disc, Consenting Holograms.

The tempo increases for disc two. Opening with Beyond The Sun‘s manic, Middle Eastern flavoured 3 Gypsies In A Restaurant and Eurocentric‘s Falling Out With The Future, the synths are bubbling and the beats are pumping. No torch songs here.

Put This Right was recorded and written with Laurence Jay Cedar, and features a Giorgio Moroder inspired synth-fest backing, and a fine vocal from Mr MacKenzie. The unreleased tracks are a revelation! A second Laurence Jay Cedar track follows, with Diamanda. A more experimental dance track than Put This Right, with acid synths and cold soundscapes providing the perfect backing to an insistently catchy song that burrows into your brain. Disc two is made to play loud!

Hornophobic always reminds me of the Rankine / Associates Sulk era, and has aged particularly well, remaining one of Billy’s best later period pieces.

“Just walk, walk through your TVs
No room for deep thought, or heat-seeking missiles”

Fear Is My Bride features a touching vocal and an addictive chorus. Sadly, I wonder about the source material for this song (and to some extent, the vocal on Eurocentric), as the audio quality falls a little below the standard of the other tracks, but for the chorus alone, Fear Is My Bride deserves its inclusion.

14th Century Nightlife works well with another of the unreleased tracks, another lyric-less piece, the jittery Consenting Holograms Have More Fun.

Following on from the cover of Eurythmics Here Comes The Rain Again comes Eurocentric, propelled by a four to the floor kick-drum and an interesting vocal arrangement. We can only wonder how all of these previously unreleased songs would have developed over time, had Billy still been with us.

Mysterious Lover is sadly very much of its time, so not one of my favourites from the Consenting Holograms disc. Return To Love 2 is a previously unheard version of the Eurocentric track, and is a much brighter, and at times, lighter take on the song.

Give Me Time (remix) is a 9 minute exploration of the Beyond The Sun track, that also appears in it’s original form on disc 3 of this collection. The arrangement stretches and is almost a dub mix at times, with echoed percussion and deep-cut basslines. The last three minutes of this remix are a dream, with the music built around a Mackenzie harmony. Drop those depth charges baby! The original is still the definitive take, but this remix is worth returning to, and sounds so beautiful in the magical early hours.

Disc Three: Liberty Lounge includes six previously unreleased recordings, and rounds the collection off with some of Mackenzie’s more pop orientated material. Tomorrow People is a timeless piece of twisted pop-music. Possibly inspired by the early 70s UK television show, this would have made a great single, and would still sound good on the radio today. Release it to the airwaves, Cherry Red!

The Mountains That You Climb, with its whistle intro and deep strings, has a nostalgic 1960s feel. Hearing Billy’s vocals accompanied by Rhodes piano sends shivers. This song would have been the centrepiece of any future Billy Mackenzie album, in an alternative reality. The way he hold’s the vocal line before the chorus, is a Mackenzie trademark, built to tug on the heart-strings. I love the production (by White Label), and it soon became one of my favourites on the collection.

The quality does not drop with the next unreleased song, McArthur’s Son, another White Label production, benefiting from a fuller band line-up. Sounding like an out-take from a classic mid 70s album, I would have loved to have heard further recordings with this more organic style, so unlike any other songs we have heard graced with those angelic pipes. A genuine lost Mackenzie classic.

Reminding me of Bowie’s Lodger, Eurocentric‘s Liberty Lounge did not initially connect with me until I heard it on this compilation, which shows how this reimagining / sympathetic sequencing has done wonders for the material. There are no major audio improvements that I am aware of with the previously released tracks, but so many of the songs work so much better in this new environment.

We go back to Beyond The Sun for the next four tracks, and they are all killer, no filler, especially the Roxy Music art-rock of Sour Jewel and the aching Theme From Shaft meets Massive Attack influenced At The Edge Of The World. This song really highlights the raw emotion of Billy’s vocals. The album’s title track is from the Transmission Impossible album, and is another one that only really hit hard on this compilation.

A new version of a Beyond The Sun track is the next previously unheard songs. 14 Mirrors 2 strips back the instrumentation, with Billy accompanied by Steve Aungle on piano, giving this take a new, timeless appeal. Auchtermatic‘s Velvet whet’s your palette for the final two previously unreleased tracks.

Your Own Fire is a collaboration with Stiv Lestar, and sadly suffers compared to the other songs, sounding like it might have been sourced from a cassette master. Nonetheless Your Own Fire has an interesting arrangement, almost sounding like Billy backed by a rough and ready garage band.

The album ends with Von Hamburg, a haunting Mackenzie/Aungle composed piano and strings finale that is a fitting conclusion to a collection put together with so much love and respect.

I must admit to feeling a little worried about this compilation prior to hearing it, and whilst the audio quality dips on three of the songs, I agree with the inclusion of all of the unreleased material, which offers hints of what was possibly still to come from Billy, and definitely enhances his reputation as one of our most gifted singer / songwriters. Everyone marvels at his voice but don’t always give credit for his writing. Also bear in mind the timescale of these recordings – with so much quality to be heard, and such a wide musical vocabulary, all in the space of just two years, making this collection all the more remarkable, and a pure joy to listen to.

Pre-order Billy MacKenzie – Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) at Amazon

Pre-order Billy MacKenzie – Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) at Burning Shed

Disc One: Winter Academy

  1. Sing That Song Again
  2. Winter Academy
  3. Wild Is The Wind
  4. Blue It Is
  5. The Soul That Sighs
  6. Mother Earth
  7. And This She Knows
  8. When The World Was Young
  9. Tallahatchie Pass *
  10. Baltimore *
  11. Nocturne VII
  12. Beyond The Sun
  13. Return To Love

Disc Two: Consenting Holograms

  1. 3 Gypsies In A Restaurant
  2. Falling Out With The Future
  3. Put This Right *
  4. Diamanda *
  5. Hornophobic
  6. 14th Century Nightlife
  7. Consenting Holograms Have More Fun *
  8. Fear Is My Bride *
  9. Here Comes The Rain Again
  10. Eurocentric *
  11. Mysterious Lover *
  12. Return To Love 2 *
  13. Give Me Time (remix) *

Disc Three: Liberty Lounge

  1. Tomorrow People *
  2. The Mountains That You Climb *
  3. McArthur’s Son *
  4. Liberty Lounge
  5. Sour Jewel
  6. 14 Mirrors
  7. Give Me Time
  8. At The Edge Of The World
  9. Satellite Life
  10. 14 Mirrors 2 *
  11. Velvet
  12. Your Own Fire *
  13. Von Hamburg *

    * previously unissued




The Associates – Perhaps (remastered) 2 CD review

4 12 2019

35 years after its original release comes this 2 CD digipak edition of the band’s third studio album Perhaps plus related bonus tracks. Released via Cherry Red on 31 January 2020, the first disc features the 10 original album tracks plus four instrumentals that were included on the original cassette release of the album. These bonus tracks are appearing on CD for the first time.

Disc Two features all the related bonus tracks for which master tapes still exist. This includes the extended versions of singles Those First Impressions, Waiting For The Loveboat and Take Me To The Girl, plus single versions of Waiting For The Loveboat, Breakfast and Take Me To The Girl. Other tracks include 7” and 12” b-sides.

This is the best that the album has sounded. Perhaps was a long time in the making and featured four different producers, Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, Martin Rushent (The Stranglers / Human League), Dave Allen and Greg Walsh. This new remaster was carried out by Dave Turner at 360 Mastering.

If you have not heard the original album from early 1985, it is very different from the playful and mischievous Sulk, its mind-blowing predecessor released in 1982. With Alan Rankine no longer a part of the band, this is a shinier, more radio-friendly version of The Associates. The album has mostly aged well and is certainly worthy of investigation if you are new to The Associates, or are a fan of 80s music.

Those First Impressions contains trademark Mackenzie vocals and a Club Country like bassline, but at a slower pace than a lot of the Sulk material. Waiting For The Loveboat feels like the theme to a long-lost saucy 80s sitcom, and contains wry lyrics and some awe-inspiring vocals from the boy Billy.

“Knowing what you want and taking full advantage”

The title track dials up the tempo and feels more like an early Associates track, with some fine guitar lines from Steve Reid. Unusually for the time, a lot of the tracks come in around the 6 minute plus mark.

“Perhaps, she’ll be my truest love.
Perhaps, I’m just not good enough.”

Schampout passed me by on initial release, and I feel the same today. Helicopter Helicopter is slightly better, but pales in significance compared to what comes next.

Breakfast is simply one of the best Associates tracks. The range of Mackenzie’s vocals, from the deep vibrato to the soaring, lung-busting high notes that give you goosebumps, still stops me in my tracks when I hear this song. It’s my favourite of all Billy’s vocal performances.

“Talk to me, I’ll stay these vagabond nights
Walk with me, someone is waiting in light”

And the end section – just a metronomic drum machine, the addictive piano motif and heart-wrenching strings, serves up one of my favourite endings to a song. So simple, yet so emotional.

Thirteen Feelings, with its fairground waltz keyboards, lifts you after the melodrama of the previous song.

“Deeper days of quintessential innocence
I’ve never felt so far away”

The Stranger In Your Voice always felt like something David Bowie would have recorded to me, and is another song that has grown on me over the years since first hearing the album on cassette back in the mid-80s.

The Best Of You is a duet with Eddi Reader (replacing two earlier ‘lost’ versions with Annie Lennox and Gina X). The album proper ends with the uptempo Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look, and is completed with four instrumental cuts.

Highlights of Disc Two include extended versions of Those First Impressions and Waiting For The Loveboat with its manic end section.

Breakfast (Edit) features a very different mix and vocal to the original, and doesn’t have the same emotional effect as the album version. Though truth be told, there could never be a bad version of this song.

The Breakfast 12″ (and rare Associates cover version) Kites is a welcome addition to this reissue, harking back to the feel of early Associates releases.

Take Me To The Girl is a post Perhaps single release (I think I have a 10″ vinyl version somewhere) and a very commercial song, presented here in all its released versions (Single Version, the 12” Mix, instrumental and the delicious acoustic torch-song version The Girl That Took Me).

“So take me to the girl that I once knew
Does she know what I’ve been going through?
I’ve been searching for her everywhere
I think my darling’s gone; I didn’t care”

This 2020 reissue also includes a 20 page booklet, that includes a UK discography and extensive sleeve-notes written by Andy Davis.

So is it worth investing in this version of Perhaps? I would say yes (not perhaps!) – its a much more rewarding version than the only other CD release, a shared re-issue with The Glamour Chase in 2002, that included none of the associated tracks that appear on this definitive Cherry Red edition.


Buy the 2 CD Perhaps album on Amazon

Disc One: Perhaps + Bonus Tracks

Those First Impressions
Waiting For The Loveboat
Perhaps (Dave Allen Remix)
Schampout
Helicopter Helicopter
Breakfast
Thirteen Feelings
The Stranger In Your Voice
The Best Of You
(Billy Mackenzie & Dave Allan Remix)
Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look
Perhaps (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
Breakfast Alone (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
Thirteen Feelings (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
The Stranger In Your Voice (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

Those First Impressions (Extended Version) *
Waiting For The Loveboat (Single Version)
Waiting For The Loveboat (Extended Version) *
Waiting For The Loveboat (Slight Return)
Perhaps Perhaps *
Schampout (Edit) *
Breakfast (Single Version)
Breakfast (Edit)
Kites
Take Me To The Girl (Single Version)
Take Me To The Girl (12” Mix) *
Take Me To The Girl (Instrumental) *
The Girl That Took Me *


* appearing on CD for the first time

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Buy Sulk by Associates on CD





News: The Associates Perhaps 2 CD re-mastered re-issue

21 11 2019

35 years after its original release Cherry Red are releasing a 2 CD digipak edition of The Associates third studio album Perhaps plus related bonus tracks. The album has been re-mastered from the original master tapes.

The previous CD release was part of a double-pack featuring The Glamour Chase, from 2002. This new Cherry Red edition is the first CD release featuring an expanded track-listing.

Originally released in February 1985 after exhaustive recording sessions, Billy Mackenzie finally followed up the 1982 Associates album Sulk with this 10 track offering. The album featured four different producers, Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, Martin Rushent, Dave Allen and Greg Walsh.

Disc One features the 10 original album tracks plus four instrumentals that were included on the original cassette release of the album. These bonus tracks are appearing on CD for the first time.

Disc Two features all the related bonus tracks for which master tapes still exist. This includes the extended versions of singles Those First Impressions, Waiting For The Loveboat and the wonderful single Take Me To The Girl, plus single versions of Waiting For The Loveboat, Breakfast and Take Me To The Girl. Other tracks include 7” and 12” b-sides.

Housed in a digipak containing a 20 page page booklet, a UK discography and extensive sleeve-notes written by Andy Davis.


Available for pre-order now.

Disc One: Perhaps + Bonus Tracks

  1. Those First Impressions
  2. Waiting For The Loveboat
  3. Perhaps (Dave Allen Remix)
  4. Schampout
  5. Helicopter Helicopter
  6. Breakfast
  7. Thirteen Feelings
  8. The Stranger In Your Voice
  9. The Best Of You
    (Billy Mackenzie & Dave Allan Remix)
  10. Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look
  11. Perhaps (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
  12. Breakfast Alone (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
  13. Thirteen Feelings (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
  14. The Stranger In Your Voice (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

  1. Those First Impressions (Extended Version) *
  2. Waiting For The Loveboat (Single Version)
  3. Waiting For The Loveboat (Extended Version) *
  4. Waiting For The Loveboat (Slight Return)
  5. Perhaps Perhaps *
  6. Schampout (Edit) *
  7. Breakfast (Single Version)
  8. Breakfast (Edit)
  9. Kites
  10. Take Me To The Girl (Single Version)
  11. Take Me To The Girl (12” Mix) *
  12. Take Me To The Girl (Instrumental) *
  13. The Girl That Took Me *
  • appearing on CD for the first time

Buy The Associates Perhaps 2-CD on Amazon








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