"Steve Aungle Billy Mackenzie"

This blog is dedicated to the late Scottish singer, Billy Mackenzie (1957-97). I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Billy for the last 4 years of his life as a co-writer. Previous blogs can be read by clicking on the Archive tab.

The most recent release of Billy’s work can be found on the remix album ‘Stolen Voices’ by White Label- a song called ‘The Mountains that You Climb’- available as a free digital download from Soundcloud. This is a different version from the rough demo currently up on youtube. The album is also available on vinyl and can be ordered through Rough Trade from most independent record stores.

121 Responses to “Billy Mackenzie”

  1. millypink Says:

    John Murphy was that human drum machine!!! I remember when i first saw The Associates shortly after they were up and running, i was amazed at how sparingly JM played.He was perfect for the band at that time.That early line-up was perfect.


  2. Wow! You knocked back joining The Associates!! So it was definitely fate that you eventually teamed up! Can’t wait to read the next bit!
    Mags x

  3. Gary Williams Says:

    I’m delighted that you have begun this blog Steve, and very much look forward to reading it!

    Gary

  4. J@mes Reid Says:

    Hi steve nice read. Can you recall Seagate studio’s dundee and the flat in north london Jimmy Mackenzie just like to say hi again. Also cant get over such a small world it is after chatting with (Balcony) Steven Lester

  5. Sean Carroll Says:

    Thanks for writing this blog Steve….good to see that Billy and the Associates are still remembered after all these years….look forward to the next installment!

    Sean

  6. IAN. (theassociate) Says:

    Brilliant start to a brilliant blog,what memories to cherish,to miss out on a place in the associates is unfortunate but at least it was delayed compensation that you teamed up later on..
    This is going to be awesome

  7. Martin Giese Says:

    Thanks for starting this block. Good to remember the best voice in pop (at least in my lifetime).


  8. This is great! I always knew there had to more then what was written in that book about Billy. Still miss him so this is a great tribute to him! Looking forward to the next posts!!

    Ronald (NL)

  9. Tracey Byram Says:

    Nice to see that, in the passing of time, you became part of the life and times of Billy. We need more tribute nights! Bizarrely enough, some years ago on a visit to Dundee, I was walking through the overpass into town and a busker was singing Sour Jewel!! Needless to say, I had to stop him and have a chat…. Keep up the great blogging! Tracey

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Tracey- a busker singing Sour Jewel? Really? You’ve made my day. Thanks for that. xS

      1. stuart Says:

        That busker would be steve purvey who loves billys stuff

      2. steveaungle Says:

        Why would it be Steve Purvey? Assuming there might be other buskers on the planet who like Billy M.

      3. Stu Firm Says:

        As he told me, when busking he sang sour jewel

  10. Tracey Byram Says:

    My pleasure Steve, although I thought Sour Jewel was quite an unusual song to be ‘busked’…. That said, it definately made my day. We ended up having a weekend in Broughty Ferry! Look forward to reading some more! T x

  11. Tracey Byram Says:

    Me and my friend had a weekend in the Ferry, not me and the busker!! x


  12. Nice site Steve – well done! I’m impressed- will be in touch soon.

    BTW To J@mes Ried (comment above) -sadly Jimmy tragically passed away in 2001 he is badly missed.

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Grant- great to hear from you- I’ve been wondering where you were. Get in touch when you can. S.

  13. Naz Says:

    Nice one Steve takes me back to the days of Bonnybank road, the pigeon hut, Bill in the Jackie magazine as a model and our ladys primary school.Most excelant blog looking forward to reading more…Cheers.
    N.

  14. J@mes Reid Says:

    Hi Grant nice to hear from you hope you keeping well. Yes i know about Jimmy passing away a few weeks before he passed i tried to get him to come to Nottingham when me and the missus were in Dundee. Also shame about Big Jim (Billy’s Dad) as well. See Ya James

  15. Tracey Byram Says:

    A very interesting read, the most amusing part being the story about Billy’s willy!! Hillarious!!… Next instalment if you please….

  16. ian (the associate) Says:

    Wild is the wig…priceless.

  17. Jim Donato Says:

    I was just digitally mastering my 12″ of JiH’s “Take Me To The Girl” (Cheers, Grant!) last night and it got me thinking about all things MacKenzie, as usual. Fortunately, I happened across this blog. Thanks, Steve, for sharing the anecdotes. As much as I loved his music, my heart goes out to anyone who collaborated with him since he seemed to be a handful. Fortunately, the end results were usually well worth it. (Though I’m still not convinced about “Wild & Lonely”)

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Billy hated ‘Wild & Lonely’- on that subject he once said to me: ‘every Hollywood actor is allowed one bad movie, aren’t they?’ To be fair, the songs weren’t that bad but the whole album suffered from a typical mid-80s production (Julian Mendelssohn of Pet Shop Boys fame). Billy was a handful but lots of fun and a fascinating guy in general. Haven’t found a co-writer like him since. S

      1. Jim Donato Says:

        That production of W+L is singular among the Julian Mendelsohn projects I have as being the least interesting. I’ve no problem with the many other examples of the man’s work in my record collection. Apart from his production of “Fever In The Shadows,” the rest of the Associates work just drifts off into ether. I think Billy was best served by collaborators who allowed a bit of madness or even hysteria to infect the results. Obviously, I have no problem with “14th Century Nightlife!” I’m very thankful I purchased “Eurocentric” as soon as it hit the market!

      2. steveaungle Says:

        Yes- perhaps the only remarkable production aspect of ‘Wild and Lonely’ is that JM managed somehow to make all the guitar parts sound like crappy digital synths. V pleased to hear that someone else gets ’14th C/Nightlife’- not for the faint-hearted!

    2. grant mcnally Says:

      Hi Jim- just found this post- do you think you could e mail an MP3 of take me to the girl- I don’t have a copy

      send to gmc5@btinternet.com

      also does anyone know if any copies exist of Billy ‘s studio demo of Shadow to fall?

      Steve if you are reading be in touch soon-are you going to Brighton ?

      Grant

      1. steveaungle Says:

        Sorry Grant- I somehow missed this comment and only just noticed it. I’ll be in Brighton towards the end of November I think. Steve

  18. J@mes Reid Says:

    Steve is there another version of 14th Century Nightlife as the one you played me and my mate in your flat in london was so diffrent the violins were mad and it seemed faster than the Eurocentric release.

    1. steveaungle Says:

      James- no, the version on Eurocentric is the only one that we ever did.

  19. Johnny Law Says:

    Steve,
    Thanks so much for sharing your stories – it’s a fascinating insight in to a relatively undocumented period of Billy’s life. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling grateful that Billy paired up with you to produce some astonishing work in the 90s. It’s just a shame that it took so long – too late – for this material to come to light.
    But whatever happened to McArthur’s Son? It sounds like a song you were proud of.
    On the subject of rare recordings, is there – to your knowledge – much material that is yet to see the light of day? We were spoiled with belated Billy releases and reissues but it’s been quiet for a long time now.
    Also are you able to shed any light on why Eurocentric ‘disappeared’ to be later replaced by the One Little Indian compilations? (Very glad I got hold of Return to Love before it was deleted.)
    Cheers! And thanks again.
    Johnny

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Johnny- the master for the first and only version of ‘McArthur’s Son’ wasn’t kept. The studio where it was recorded erased the tape- meaning that a remix with Billy’s vocal couldn’t be done. I have the demo on DAT but, like other demos I still have, it is v rough. I feel strongly, as do Billy’s family, that releasing unfinished work is not what Billy wd have wanted so what is already out there is pretty much it. On a more positive note, I can tell you that a German label (Destination Pop) is releasing the original version of ‘Return to Love’ on vinyl- this is the up-tempo version which I originally rejected because I thought it was a bit camp. Hearing it now though, it actually sounds pretty good, barring a crappy hi-hat sample. Regarding ‘Eurocentric’- it was deleted 2 weeks after its release in 2001 by ROL Records, my former friend Paul Haig’s label. The official reason given was that it was deleted ‘at the family’s request’ but this is untrue. It’s release coincided with the Haig/Mackenzie album ‘Memory Palace’ and the general consensus was that Eurocentric was a ‘better’ album- as if music is some weird competition. But people talk and Paul obviously listened. ‘Professional jealousy’ is the real reason that Eurocentric was deleted. If only I had had the chance to speak to Paul, I wd have reassured him that what people say is bullshit, his catalogue speaks for itself and although we all get a bit insecure sometimes, he shouldn’t have sacrificed a friendship for such nonsense. Cheers, Steve.

      1. Johnny Law Says:

        Hi Steve,
        Given what you said, I hope you were happy with the subsequent Auchtermatic and Transmission Impossible sets as they seemed a fitting distillation of the two sides of your work with Billy: both the electronic and piano/ ballad–based compositions.
        Thanks for the tip-off regarding Return to Love on vinyl. Will look out of that. (Do you have a URL?)
        Thanks again and keep up the good work.

      2. steveaungle Says:

        A URL for the label? No- afraid not. I think there’s something about it on WordPress if you do a search on ‘Destination Pop’. It won’t be out for a few weeks yet i reckon. Cheers, S.

  20. J@mes Reid Says:

    Hi Steve was wondering if you could shed some light on the following. I was told years ago that you and Billy were going to have 3 project groups on the go doing diffrent style’s of music. Were they called the following “Case” which was glam rock, “Outerpol” which was dance and electronica and also under Billy’s own name just doing ballad tracks. Thanks James

    1. steveaungle Says:

      I can’t remember what ‘Case’ was supposed to be but it was mentioned in The Glamour Chase book. ‘Outerpol’ was for the electronica as you say (inc the songs Billy did with Paul Haig). The ballads/piano-based material was under ‘Winter Academy’. I cdnt keep up with it half the time. Having said that I seem to have inherited this tendency, having several projects all going on at once. Cheers, S.

  21. J@mes Says:

    Steve it so strange but it has brought back some memories about “Medieval Carnage” from when me and my mates when were at seagate studios and us and Billy were drinking tea and talking about astrology and Billy brought up the subject of dreams and he asked us what we thought dreams about Medieval Bloody Battles was about and are response was we had no idea. See Ya J@mes

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Billy may have had a predispostion for dreaming about such things- I know that hallucinations are a common factor in mental illness and I believe that he had become ill in the clinical sense- i.e. a chemical imbalance in the brain had occurred. The press dwelled upon his mother’s death in ’96 as a root cause but I don’t think there was any connection. As Betty, his aunt put it, Billy’s mind ‘crashed’ in the same a way a computer crashes when it gets overloaded. I think that’s a far more accurate explanation. S

  22. J@mes Says:

    I think you and Betty have hit the nail on the head. It is so sad what happend to both Billy & Jimmy Mack these guys were True Gents & Star’s god bless em. Thanks James

    1. steveaungle Says:

      When you mention Jimmy, his death is maybe even more difficult to accept than Billy’s- Jimmy died at 32 with so much unrealized potential- then there was Betty who died in her 50s. You can say it’s all part of life’s ongoing tragedies but that family has really gone through it. S

  23. J@mes Says:

    John Vick’s ’3 Gypsies in a Restaurant’ is that the same John from Finitribe by any chance. See Ya J@mes

  24. steveaungle Says:

    Yes- that’s right. John from the Finitribe. S

  25. REVO Says:

    Steve, do you mean it gets worse from here?! I shouldn’t be shocked, though. Nothing surprises me in the professional music world.

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Yes- it’s a strange business. Probably the only one that’s run by people who know nothing about the product they’re trying to sell. S

  26. postpunkmonk Says:

    Phew! What a psychodrama that would be! Never a dull moment, eh? I don’t know if Billy took therapy but it might be advised for his friends. I’m looking forward to the “Return To Love” single. I just dropped Gilbert a line to order it. Thanks again for the continued amazing tales of Billy.

    1. steveaungle Says:

      I don’t think Billy ever had therapy- after the episode I described, I got over the whole affair much quicker than I might have. You might even argue that his antics were a form of therapy in themselves! As I said, nothing was ever done with the slightest bad intention or malice. I think he was fascinated by human behaviour and took any opportunity to study it.

  27. Ned Raggett Says:

    Steve — really enjoying all these entries, the personal perspective on Billy as both collaborator and person is a wonderful way to get a sense of him even at this distance. Also good fun to read about your other work too — the Mullet of Seaford story is a treat!

    Have you been following (and if you have, do you have any opinion on) the Whippet at the Wheel blog? I’ve really enjoyed its detailed, fan’s eye effort at collecting the various scattered rarities out there from across the course of Billy’s overall career — the more so because it does solely concentrate on the honest to god out of print songs as opposed to just putting the whole catalog up for download. That said, your perspective on it may well be different!

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Ned- I didn’t know about the Whippet at the Wheel blog but will check it out. It sounds like a great idea- I think any dissemination of Billy’s work is a good thing. If it involves a few bootlegs that’s fine with me. S

      1. postpunkmonk Says:

        Sid Law is a holy man. I hate to resort to downloading MP3s, but no one will sell me the “Pastime Paradise” or “Country Boy” singles at any price. For over a dozen years!

      2. steveaungle Says:

        Have you tried the Yahoo group? Or maybe you’re already a member. Other than that I can only think of the Affectionate Bunch site and Whippet at the Wheel but you’ve probably tried those too. S

      3. steveaungle Says:

        I’ve had an email from a friend in Canada who can get you both ‘Country Boy’ and ‘Pastime Paradise’. He said it’s ok to pass on his email add to you. It is: rar1111@yahoo.com His name is Richard- really nice guy.

  28. R Says:

    Hey
    Post Punk Monk
    I’ll email ya the past and Country boy singles no problem
    And or mail ya hard copies cd
    Or what ever rare things ya like
    Mail me @
    electroncalgary@yahoo.com
    I’ll hook ya up
    R

  29. postpunkmonk Says:

    Steve/Richard:

    Thanks for the shout out. I appreciate the helping hands for a fan. I just got the Destination Pop single last week, but I’ve not had time to remaster it to digital. It’s lovely to see new material still reaching the fans.

  30. postpunkmonk Says:

    Well, I finally got a chance to listen to the “Return To Love” single. The hi-hat sample reference makes me laugh. At least it isn’t an 8 bit orchestral hit! I can certainly live with it. And I like the bassline to the uptempo version a lot. I’m happy to hear the different version and glad that I have both under my roof. Billy liked to try different approaches and hearing more than one is great fun for a fan.

    As a fan it’s also disheartening to hear about the “problem” with “Eurocentric.” I will admit that upon hearing “Memory Palace” that I felt the loose demo quality of the tracks were more of a “fans only” caliber. It has a 4-track portastudio quality and the vocals often sound dry and overmodulated. Quite unlike the full-tilt studio quality tracks on “Eurocentric,” which in all honesty, remains my favorite of the posthumous albums. It’s also frustrating, because I quite enjoy Paul Haig!

  31. J@mes Says:

    Hi Steve very interesting read. Right please could you shed some light like what was the idea and inspiration lyrically and musically on the tracks 3 Gypsies in a Restaurant,Falling out with the Future and Hornophobic. I can recall seagate studio on a saturday morning and a young Jimmy Mack telling me to pop in to see Billy in the studio but i ended up meeting Stu Firm. Stu told me to wait as Billy was due in to finish some tracks which were Sour Jewel and Hornophobic he asked if i had heared the tracks i said no and he played me them. I can remember Stu saying Sour Jewel very very Glammy was going to be a single and then he played Hornophobic to me and my mates and we was gob smacked it was unreal ‘Billy full on Drum & Bass’ and we told Stu to tell Billy he has got to release it as a single and give The Prodigy a run for the money as i think they had just had a hit with Breath. See Ya J@mes

    1. steveaungle Says:

      ‘3 Gypsies in a Restaurant’ is about the Holocaust. Billy had gypsy blood and felt strongly that the fate of the gypsies is often overlooked even tho they suffered proportionately as much as the Jews did. ‘Falling out with the Future’ was originally a kind of history of pop music with a chorus for each decade but John Vick rearranged the song so that the chorus about ‘the 90s’ became the middle 8 and the other ones were dropped. ‘Hornophobic’ is about sexual repression (horn=sex+phobic=fear of). S.

      1. J@mes Says:

        Sorry should of put my thanks here instead of below. See Ya J@mes

  32. J@mes Says:

    Thanks Steve

  33. Susan Says:

    postpunkmonk wrote:

    “As a fan it’s also disheartening to hear about the “problem” with “Eurocentric.” I will admit that upon hearing “Memory Palace” that I felt the loose demo quality of the tracks were more of a “fans only” caliber. It has a 4-track portastudio quality and the vocals often sound dry and overmodulated. Quite unlike the full-tilt studio quality tracks on “Eurocentric,” which in all honesty, remains my favorite of the posthumous albums. It’s also frustrating, because I quite enjoy Paul Haig!”

    Yes, this exactly. I remember when I first bought “Memory Palace” and listened to it, I asked Andy if I should send it back because it must be scratched all over, as the sound was awful in a lot of tracks. He looked at it, listened to it, and said, nah, it wasn’t damaged in anyway; that was the actual recording. I was shocked, because I (naively) really didn’t think anyone would release anything with such shocking sound quality commercially. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad to have it – there are some cracking songs on there – but yes, perhaps it should have remained as bootlegs shared freely among us.

    Steve thanks for replying so promptly to my email – I will answer it properly soon (ish).

    Keep up the good work with the blog.

    – Susan. x

    1. steveaungle Says:

      As I said, it’s probably best not to draw comparisons- but like it or not, people tend to do this. To be fair, there are a couple of tracks on Eurocentric (14th Century Nightlife and Liberty Lounge) which were recorded rough and I decided to include them regardless because the song still comes across well enough. In some instances (esp 14C N/life) the roughness even adds to the atmosphere and, if ‘cleaned up’, a track sometimes loses more than it gains. But I agree with both comments- that Memory Palace falls well short on production. S

      1. postpunkmonk Says:

        In all fairness, I’m sure that “Memory Palace was exactly what it needed to be at the time; demos a pair of musically talented friends collaborated on for their own pleasure. I’m sure no thought was ever made at the time that they would see the light of day as a commercial release. There’s still good material on them and the production enhances “Listen To Me,” in all frankness.

      2. steveaungle Says:

        I agree- and think there are several songs released since Billy’s passing which wdve remained demos had he lived on. Naturally, fans want to hear everything that was ever done- but sometimes a balance needs to be struck. The release of Marc Bolan’s demos is one example which springs to mind- many tracks there which remained demos because they were obviously not up to scratch as songs and so were not taken any further. In this instance it was wrong (in my opinion) to release them. S

  34. Susan Says:

    Steve, I don’t know if by “released” you’re actually confining the word to the official, commercial sense, or widening it to include any leaks of bootlegs into the public domain. In the latter case, all the bootlegs I’ve encountered have – obviously – been knocking around for ages, the original source of their “leak” lost in the mists of time. I take the attitude that if I’ve been given access to them, then sharing them freely with others who wih to hear them is the only “right” thing to do.

    Obviously people can differentiate between arough demo and a more polished commercial release, and don’t expect the same sound quality. Also, if I’m honest – there are a few – just a few – commercially released songs that I don’t personally care for, and will skip on albums (I mean, who can be expected to love 100% of an artist’s output 100% of the time), and I’d far rather listen to a rough-sounding demo of a song that IMO had more artistic merit. Tracks like “Stay Pure” (although that’s hardly rough) “The Mountains That You Climb” and “Gender Illusionist” are frequently played here, along with outtakes and demos of released tracks that I actually prefer to what ended up on the albums.

    Anyway that’s my fifty pence worth. 🙂

    BTW GG in moton – he that runs the Retro Dundee Blogspot – has unearthed some recordings of your old outfit, Blush. I don’t know where he digs this stuff up from, but the guy should be given the freedom of the city IMO. His blog is a treasure trove. 🙂

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Susan- ok this is the way I see it- if a song is good, decent, brilliant even, then the roughness of the recording won’t matter too much- and so bootlegs, pirate releases whatever are totally justified to disseminate such works to the world. I mentioned the Marc Bolan demos in a previous comment and these represent the opposite- i.e. sub-standard ideas that should never have been heard and I believe that Marc wd be turning in his grave. With Billy, for the most part, the demos that have been released have been worth ‘releasing’ (by that I just mean somehow made available) but there are one or two exceptions. e.g. the song ‘Velvet’ on ‘Auchtermatic’ which I knew nothing about until it came out and which neither of us wd have consented to in that form, not to mention the awful cover of ‘Here Come the Rain Again’.
      On The Blush (I protested at the name but was ignored) this was the first ‘real’ band I joined as a drummer. The track featured on Retro Dundee I think is ‘Hey You’- we did well in Scotland for a while- had a following and all that but fell out over publishing rights- strangley enough it was Fiction Records (Billy’s label at that time) who offered us a deal. What is also weird is that we released a single called ‘Skipping’ only weeks before the Associates single came out. We were convinced they had ripped us off! xS

  35. Susan Says:

    PS please excuse my cack typing – keys a bit sticky on this laptop.

  36. Susan Says:

    PPS Soz; I meant “The Blush”. Got to get it right. As Blur were not The Blur, so were The Blush not Blush.

  37. Richard Says:

    I haven’t weighed in on here
    Although have really enjoyed Steve’s posts for some time
    And the imput from friends
    I have enjoyed the Memory Palace
    And I take in that really hey they are demoes
    But I value them alll the same
    Perhaps nice to hear something unproduced
    And I take it that way .. and I’m fine with it
    As Steve mentions like Trex they weren’t meant to be released
    But I’m grateful for them.. without judgement
    I am also happy to hear Trex unreleased cause like Billy I want it All
    BTW met Gloria Jones .. Marc’s wife last week here and she was so very lovely
    And her site to help kids in Africa is here …

    http://www.myspace.com/marcbolanschoolofmusicandfilm

    I agree Here comes the rain is ok .. but could b better
    On the flip
    3 Gypiesies is Amazing !
    And I don’t care what anyone says
    13 Century is Devasasting !!!!
    And I am so happy it came out
    Love the demo and lovin more the Eurocentic one
    And Eurocentic is OOOOO so Nice !
    And why O Why ???
    Has
    “The mountians that you climb ”
    Never been released ????????????????????????????????????
    It is so Heartbreakingly Beautiful
    It is a Crime it has not been available to people ?
    Ok my 2 .. or 3 cents
    Luv this blog
    Big Luv to Steve !
    xoxoxo

    1. steveaungle Says:

      On ‘Mountains that you Climb’- I am scouting around for an ADAT machine- the master might be on one of the ADAT tapes I have. These machines are long defunct and hardly anyone uses them but I will find one somehow. As Richard knows, I offered this song to David McAlmont- one of the few singers alive who cd pull off those high notes- but he turned it down! I agree it is a bit special and if re-done properly has classic potential. If I get my mitts on the master I promise it will get it done but, as I said, I won’t know if I have it until I find that elusive ADAT machine to check thru the tapes. S

  38. J@mes Says:

    Steve what make or model of ADAT machine are you looking for or will any do. Thanks J@mes

    1. steveaungle Says:

      thanks James- I’ve managed to locate an ADAT machine in Dundee so when I go over there at Christmas I can go thru all the tapes etc. S

      1. J@mes Says:

        No Problem. All the best J@mes

  39. Richard Says:

    I hope yah find the adat your looking for
    Funny enough i am one of the few still using mine
    It has low hours so I’m still good
    One thing worth mentioning is that the Alesis LX models play all types of adats
    they are 20 bit
    But the older models don’t play 20 bit
    I have offered my adat for Steve but we are in different countries
    Although as we are pals I’d be happy to transfer it to another format .. but that means I’d need the tape
    Which since he doesn’t know which tape it’s on could be a little much to ask
    Either way I’m game
    Richard

  40. Richard Says:

    PS
    I do have a digital copy of Mountains
    Directly from Billy’s dog show friend Linda
    It is good but has some waver on the vocal with the reverb
    ut also I do have a another digital copy that is much clearer and better
    Although could use some eq ing
    Actually very clear
    And much better than the former
    Happy to get it to MR Steve if it’s useful
    It’s really quite good a mix
    I is a 2 track stereo mix though
    R

    1. steveaungle Says:

      thanks Richard- I have the original on DAT. It wd need a remix tho, ditch the click-track drum machine, clean up the vocal (there is software now to remove reverb) and overall arrange the track properly like a 60s type soul ballad which was always our intention. As I said to James, I’ve located an ADAT machine in Dundee so I can go thru all the tapes when I go there at Christmas. S

      1. Richard Says:

        That’s great news
        I figure you’d find one their not as rare as one would suppose
        After all they were used a lot I figure in the past
        And I’d guess there are a lotta people that have stuff on tapes they should transfer still
        I love the track but your ideas I know will make it even better
        yes the drum track could be tossed
        And yes the reverb isn’t needed .. it’s a bit harsh anyway
        Ah this is good news
        If your ike me your bound to find some treasures you’ve forgotten about
        here’s hoping
        ;0)
        R

  41. postpunkmonk Says:

    Wow. All this talk about the Alesis ADAT platform. I remember when it was brand new and the proverbial bees knees. Now, less than 20 years later and it’s a relic that has master tapes obsoleted. Now you need to mount an archaeology expedition to transfer masters to modern formats. I know that my Sony DAT deck bought the farm astonishingly fast. That thing had less that 100 hours on it when the transport logic freaked out on me. I’ve still got a few recordings that I never mastered to disk yet.

    1. Richard Says:

      I have thought about all the older formats that need to be transfered .. and I saw this problem coming back in the 90’s
      yes you have the masters but you can’t find a machine or old computer with the software to play them
      I saw a lotta things getting lost in the near future
      And it’s coming to pass
      And we all know we mean to transfer it .. but we never get around to it
      When we do it may be too late
      As to ya Sony dat .. worth droppin the extra cash and getting way for life out of it
      I went for the tascam and it’s still going strong .. knock wood
      Even my old tascam 4 track works still .. well I think .. better look into that
      Watch as your cool new recordings are unplayable in a few years cause you can’t play them on ya new IMac 3001
      Now about the old 8 track tapes for the car .. Mmmmm
      better get me a back up
      cause who likes driving around with no music from ya good old trusty 8 track player
      Cause TREX no sounds good on any other format
      Lets not even get into my groovy 78 records
      But maybe we should…?
      Yes still playable after close to 100 years
      Oh those kids with their eyepad record players !
      Who needs that stuff !

      R

    2. stuart firm Says:

      And the adats recreate top end or bottom for the recordings would have been so much better if everything was done in 24 bit 96 instead of 16 bit 48khz, you would listen to the playback and think that just sounds like an mp3 of the original signal.

      1. stuart firm Says:

        sorry didnt recreate the top or bottom

      2. steveaungle Says:

        You’ve lost me Stuart re top and bottom. Let’s discuss this later.

  42. J@mes Says:

    Hi Steve or anyone else can you please help with the Piano Chords for The Associate and also It’s Better This Way Please Please can someone help. Thanks James

    1. steveaungle Says:

      @James It’s Better this Way cycles around the following 4 chords for the entire track: D minor, B flat minor, G minor, B flat minor 7th. I don’t have a copy of the Associate so can’t help you there. S

      1. J@mes Says:

        Thanks Steve your a star. Have one more to ask for please and then that’s it have you got the chords for Skipping. thanks James

      2. steveaungle Says:

        @James Skipping is more complex chord-wise. The intro and verse are B minor to C repeated. up to ‘December’ where it changes to G to B minor twice followed by a held E chord, then the bridge section is E minor to F sharp repeated then E minor down to a held C major 7th (+9). The chorus is: B minor, C, D, E7 repeated. Hope this helps. S

      3. J@mes Says:

        Steve for the help with the Chords i will sort you out with François Truffaut Fahrenheit 451 if you did not get chance to get your hands on a copy. See Ya J@mes

    2. J@mes Says:

      Steve with me pestering about chords it got me thinking in your opinion of The Associates music what would you say was the simplest piece of music Billy and Alan or Steve Reid wrote and what was the most complex tune they wrote. Also Steve thanks for Skipping if you want Fahrenheit 451 please email me Private and i will sort it out for you. Once again thank you. All the best J@mes

      1. steveaungle Says:

        @James- I don’t know all of the Associates albums- I only know Sulk and even then that is a hard question that wd require analysis of each song. They often achieved harmonic movement thru using mobile bass-lines (Better this Way is a good example) rather than thru complex chord progressions. I do this sometimes esp with Carcassette songs. It’s a good one because you get groove from the b-line as well as melodic content. It’s ok about Fahrenheit 451- I’ll get around to renting it out at some point. Thanks anyway. S

      2. J@mes Says:

        Steve can i ask you then what is the simplest piece of music you wrote with Billy and the same for complex piece of music and which piece do you regard as your creme de la creme. Thanks J@mes

      3. steveaungle Says:

        @James- if you mean simple chord-wise it wd have to be an electronic track like ‘Hornophobic’ or ‘Falling out with the Future’. Electronic dance music is by its very nature simple in chord terms- but it is complex in other ways because you have many more layers of sound than you wd in, say, a stripped-down piano ballad. With the latter the opposite is true- the complexity of a song like ‘When the World was Young’ off Eurocentric lies in the chord structure. With Billy, nothing was ever what I wd call ‘simple’ so, again, not able to give a precise answer. As for a personal favourite out of all our work, it has to be 14th Century Nightlife- I never get bored of it. S

      4. J@mes Says:

        Thanks mate for answer, Yep 14th Century Nightlife got to agree take some beating. All the best J@mes

  43. Richard Says:

    ooo Fahrenheit 451 !
    I found a copy a while ago it’s so good !
    Nichols Roeg was cinematographer on it too i believe
    you guys have good taste

    1. J@mes Says:

      Thanks Richard

  44. Gear Knobs Says:

    having a regular nightlife can make your life a very colorful one, i enjoy having nigh outs :*:

  45. stuart firm Says:

    Hi Steve how are you, Im just away to buy eurocentric it seems that it is the rarest of all the albums its costing me 30 pounds on amazon

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Stuart- don’t buy it for that price. I am re-issuing it shortly. And anyway you of all people deserve a free copy

  46. Johnny Law Says:

    Steve,
    your writing continues to provide a fascinating account of your work and friendship with Billy. And your latest piece (#25) is the first that I’ve read to bring new light to the familiar tale of the Rankine-MacKenzie split.
    Thanks as ever for your sense of honesty and integrity. I really admire and enjoy your collaborations with Billy – and your blog keeps giving fresh insights.
    Are you able to tell us any more about your Eurocentric reissue? Will it be a straight re-release or contain a new track listing?
    Many thanks again,
    Johnny

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Hi Johnny- the Eurocentric re-issue will be ready for March- available from the Mont Records site. It will be a straight re-release. S

  47. Johnny Law Says:

    Hi Steve,
    I was just wondering if you planned to make any more posts here?
    Perhaps you feel you’ve said everything you need to say. But your writing about working with Billy has been insightful and touching. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Also, is there any news on the unreleased material mentioned on the Mont Records site?
    all the best,
    Johnny

  48. steveaungle Says:

    Hi Johnny,
    Yes- I think I’ve said everything that needed saying- I might suddenly think of something- some forgotten anecdote but it is unlikely.
    As regards unreleased material there is a new track ‘The Mountains that you Climb’ which is appearing on a remix album of various artists called ‘Stolen Voices’ by White Label.
    We are waiting for the vinyl which we should have in about 3 weeks time. It was also be available as an mp3 download on the Mont site.
    As will a re-issue of the Eurocentric album.
    I know it should have been out in March but we had some problems with legalities. Steve

  49. Johnny Law Says:

    Thanks for the tip-off Steve. On the Mont website it refers to ‘sifting thru possibly two cds worth of lost (Billy) tracks’. Is that still looking like a possibility?
    cheers,
    Johnny

  50. steveaungle Says:

    I don’t think so- I went thru a load of old A-dat tapes earlier this year but there wasn’t even one cd’s worth of useable material- this is how I found the Mountains that you Climb track. There is another called ‘Talahachi Pass’ which I might be able to do something with but that’s pretty much it from my end.
    Steve, my partner on the Mont label was also referring I think to demos that he did with Billy back in the early 90s but it seems that the tapes are either lost or, for now, very hard to find. S

  51. Tony P Says:

    Hi Steve, just read your post re Billy. Firstly, love your music and the tracks you did with Billy are quite beautiful. I didn’t get the opportunity to see The Associates play live – not sure why on hindsight as I went to lots of gigs and was a huge admirer of them. No, the only time I got to see Billy in the flesh was when he walked through the bar of the William IV pub in Hampstead Village with a whippet. How rubbish is that for a claim to fame! Cheers. Tony P

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Thanks Tony- there’s more stuff about Billy under ‘Archive’ if you’re interested. Steve

  52. ann Says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your blog this past year or so [and the wonderful beats you got going with Billy] incredibly previously unaware of Billy’s passing. It’s very sad but you’ve captured him, his talent for surreal and abstract conversation [we should swap some anecdotes – I’ve found myself laughing out loud recalling a conversation with him about ‘exotic’ and then seeing that ‘cartoon exotic’ image on the cover of Sulk]. I’d always imagined him snug and happy up in Dundee. I knew him in London in the summer of 1980 and the way fate can have its way lost touch due to the weirdest set of circumstances: we were supposed to go dancing in dec 1980 – no doubt part of my disco musical re-education [trying to explain Sun Ra’s shambolic hour long funk groove ‘space is the place’ to Billy a dead loss]. Anyway I’m currently in Dundee and have been to Balgay to pay my respects – can you recommend other Billy haunts.

    cheers,
    Ann

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Hi Ann
      If you mean haunts in Dundee, he didn’t really have any. He had a place in Auchterhouse and spent his time there with his dogs. When I visit Dundee I usually walk up Auchterhouse Hill and remember him that way. You might already know it- it’s not too strenuous and there’s excellent views over the Sidlaws from the top.
      Steve

  53. ann Says:

    Hi Steve,
    Incredibly was up on the sidlaws yesterday – sunny and crisp – coming out of the pines and over the stream near the flats a dog came out with leash in its mouth and its owner not far behind – we walked along the Old Whisky Road and into a paddock very wild and bar with sheep and the hills high above with splendid views and then wounf down the Tealing road.. as we got chatting further it transpired we walked right by where he’d passed so I walked back up – horses in the paddock [he’s been quite chuffed to learn I used to ride horses by the sea, galloping my dog] – to quote Billy you couold see forever and the hill was high enough [to quote a Billy borrowing of Hendrix, to touch the sky]

    she was very kind and came back to pick me up in her car and took me to the mansion house [now private so we couldn’t gop in] wher he liked to sit at the bar [she lived there 30 years]

    even more uncanny the florist I’d chosen had babysat Billy’s dogs when she was 11 and had lived in the house next door to the flats

    as you suggested, walking up there a great way to remember him

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Hi Anne, sorry for the late reply- definitely the best way to remember him- certainly beats grave-stones and graveyards. Steve

  54. Ted Says:

    Steve, do you have the lyrics for “Mountains that you climb ” ? I know a few singers and am hoping to get one to cover the song. cheers.

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Sure- let me know if you need the chords. Steve

      V1 Gets to me in the morning, gets to me when each night feels the same,
      Then you leave without warning, and I don’t know if I’ll see you again,
      When you’re out in the city, I know there’s more who’ll entertain you,
      When you’re out in the city, can’t expect the rain to explain what you do

      CH1 You say that you feel more alive when you’re close to crying,
      And the mountains that you climb are there to set you free

      V2 Guess there’s no good in trying, guess there’s no good in showing I care,
      You’re next to me and I’m buying a part of you that I know I must share
      When you’re out in the city, I know there’s more who’ll entertain you,
      When you’re out in the city, can’t expect the rain to explain what you do

      CH2 You say that you feel more alive when you’re close to crying
      And the mountains that you climb are there to set you free
      And when I drive into these eyes, well I know there’s no use lying baby,
      So turn around and close the door, I know you’re gonna run on me

      INSTR, repeat CH2

      1. Ted Says:

        Yeah sure if you put them up I’ll pass them on. Thanks so much. I presume you know the track is downloadable via Soundcloud ? Also, i was under the impression that the rough demo (as heard on Youtube) was the only version available but the Stolen Voices mix seems to have a different and slightly cleaner vocal take ? Any behind-the-scenes info on that ? Is it all stemming from the same recording ?

      2. steveaungle Says:

        Yes, I know about the mixes on Soundcloud- I did them with 2 other musician friends under the name White label. You’re right- it is a different vocal take from the version on youtube- we stumbled across it while going thru a load of old A-dat masters of demos i did with Billy back in ’94. Because it was on multi-track we were able to isolate the vocal and rebuild the song from scratch. I couldn’t even remember us recording a 2nd version but there it was- right at the end of the very last tape we checked through! Anyway, here are the chords: (because I have no hash key, sharp chords are written as flats (eg Fsharp=Gb)

        INT: Emj7 Dmj7 Cmj7 Dbm (rpt) V1: Emj7 A Gbm7 B7 Emj7 Gmj7 Gbm7 B7 A Ab Dbm Ab Emj7 Cmj7 Dbm Ab Ab CH1: Emj7 Ab A B7 Emj7 Dmj7 Cmj7 Dbm Dbm V2: Emj7 A Gbm7 B7 Emj7 Gmj7 Gbm7 B7 A Ab Dbm Ab Emj7 Cmj7 Dbm Ab Ab Ab CH2: Emj7 Ab A B7 Emj7 Dmj7 Cmj7 Dbm Emj7 Ab A E Emj7 Dmj7 Cmj7 Dbm Dbm rpt INT rpt CH2 rpt INT (end)

        each chord lasts 1 bar! Steve

  55. Ted Says:

    Thank you Steve. (excuse my delayed manners). peace.

  56. Ted Says:

    Also, I have to stand up for Wild and Lonely: true, the production is a bit cheap and stilted. But I have to say that those SONGS got through to me in a big way. The song themselves are dynamite. In particular: the best traits of all parties concerned came together on “Fire to Ice” and I’m addicted to the pop brilliance, the whimsical arrangement, Ann Dudley’s PERFECT strings and Billy’s voice: which is nuanced with such faithful and passionate intent He may have been difficult: but he NAILED a gorgeous pop vocal on that. Also, “Strasbourg Square” became an instant favorite. And “Ever Since That Day” with it’s combination of dimestore prose / romantic novelism and that MELODY. GORGEOUS.


  57. Thank you for taking time to publish “Billy Mackenzie
    Steve Aungle”. Many thanks for a second time -May


  58. Just a little story all you Billy fans might enjoy. I grew up on the same road as Bono and as we were both in bands (mine were slightly less successful!) we were fairly close. “You are what you eat” he said to me one day, but he meant musically, he was looking for some inspiration for his songwriting. I gave him a cassette with Elvis Costello’s “Imperial Bedroom” on one side and “Sulk” on the other. A few months later, as he was giving me the tape back he said “my god, The Associates would be huge if Billy stopped yodeling all over the tracks”. He loved “Sulk”, however and I have the distinction of being the person who introduced Bono to The Associates. Years and years later, I’m still trying to get everything Billy ever recorded, almost there!

    1. steveaungle Says:

      thanks Emmett- great story! I knew about the Bono connection but not how it came about.

  59. deb Says:

    Hi Steve, love your blog-what have you been up to lately? Deb

    1. steveaungle Says:

      Hi Deb- do I know you? Only asking because I know a few Debs! I’m still living in Berlin but have an indie label in Scotland going now called Port Fire- working on album at the moment for one of our artists, Syann Gilroy- and one of my own for a project I have here. Can’t paste in youtube links here but can mail them to you if you like. Steve

  60. Ronald Says:

    I just thought you all might be interested in this:

    http://seizoensgebonden.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/xxx.html

    The Associates Vredenburg Utrecht (NL) April 1985

    11 photos

  61. Rob J Says:

    I saw The Associates at the now defunct Marquee Club in 1980, and they
    were astonishing. There were more people in the band, then in the audience,
    but those early records were fantastic.
    Then came “Sulk”, their masterpiece arrived in 1982. Outside of Tim Buckley,
    there has never been a more exciting male vocalist. Nobody has matched
    “Skipping” in the last thirty four years. Of course, it couldn’t last. I was due
    to see the group play the Camden Palace ,but the gig wast cancelled at the last minute.After Alan left, I lost interest in their recorded output, although
    I saw Billy perform in London in 1985,and he was excellent. After his tragic
    death, I listened to his early albums again and they still remain the gold standard for exciting, avant garde music after thirty five years.

    On a personal note, I met Billy briefly at a party in Hampstead in 1984, and he was a true gentleman.

    He was a class act. At the peak of their powers, the Associates were
    unbeatable.

  62. Bo Says:

    Return to love is such a standout song of Billy’s, hits me in the guts every time. Sheer beauty. Does anyone have the lyrics?

    1. steveaungle Says:

      I know most of them except a couple of indistinct lines- if anyone has a copy of the original cd, the lyrics are on the sleeve as far as I recall.

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