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139) Associates - Sulk

Watching The Associates appearing on Top of The Pops (worth seeing for the chopsticks, banjos and Frank Spencer beret and coat) its kind its bizarre to think that both Billy MacKenzie and Alan Rankine are no longer with us, they both look so young, in fact they were young but although they are sadly no longer with us we still have their music.

 

There are ten tracks on the album. The first and last are instrumentals, as good as a multi-instrumentalist Rankine is they are missing something crucial, Mackenzie’s amazing voice.

 

Piano and bass build us into No and then Billy arrives. This is a man who can hit all the notes, in one line of a song he can go from standard to falsetto too low to high, an extraordinary vocalist. No is melodramatic, earie and haunting I am not sure I can make any sense of the lyrics a point maybe proved as we go into Bap De La Bap and Nude Spoons both almost industrial in beats, synths, and sounds, weird but wonderful.

 

They stamp their own sound all over Gloomy Sunday and Skipping whirls round around as Mackenzie tries to find as many ways as possible to sing the word.

 

A joy so far but It’s Better This Way with a manic guitar throughout and MacKenzie again performing heroics, this is a dark delight before we hit the magical hits of Party Fears Two and Club Country. Everyone of a certain age knows Party the second it starts and all these years later its still unique and Country Club’s chorus is hypnotic and big shout out to ex Cure man Michael Dempsey on bass.

 

Sulk is seemingly a story of excess with fortunes spent on studios, hotels, cocaine, and experimentation. It may have been bizarre but for this brief period they were a band that clicked.

 

9/10  

 

GIVE IT A STREAM: Party Fears Two

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