The Associates

Profile:
Billy MacKenzie and Alan Rankine formed The Associates in Dundee, Scotland, in 1976. They released a self-funded 7" of Boys Keep Swinging mere weeks after David Bowie had released his original. This scam got them a publishing deal with Bowie's publishers and a proper record deal.

By 1980 they were touring with The Cure and signed to Fiction Records, for whom they recorded The Affectionate Punch. At the turn of the year they relocated to Situation Two and put out a string of singles, later compiled on the album Fourth Drawer Down, recorded using money from major labels who were expecting demos to be produced with their cash. In tandem with their increasing consumption of cocaine and speed, the group's music became increasingly deranged and experimental. John Murphy and Michael Dempsey (ex-The Cure) became official members.

The Associates signed with WEA in 1982. Martha Ladly joined as back-up singer. Billy and Alan immediately scored a string of UK top 20 chart hits. The album Sulk made the UK top 10, winning album of the year awards in the UK music press. The group’s drug use was at a peak - Billy and Alan’s behaviour was becoming somewhat erratic. On the eve of their biggest ever UK tour MacKenzie pulled out. A US deal with Island was consequentially lost. Deciding that he couldn't continue, Alan Rankine left the group. From this moment on, the Associates were to be just that: Billy MacKenzie solo, with different associates for each release.

MacKenzie started recording a follow-up album. 1984s Perhaps cost WEA £250,000. It took three years and four production teams to record - twice (dissatisfied with the original production Billy "lost" the first versions' master tapes, forcing a re-recording). The album had some chart success, but WEA were dissatisfied, and started pressuring MacKenzie to follow a more straightforward pop-soul direction. Frustrated by WEA's lack of support, MacKenzie focussed on collaborations, most notably with Yello (featuring on One Second, Flag, Baby and writing The Rhythm Divine).

1988's comeback single, a cover of Blondie's Heart Of Glass, failed to chart. WEA refused to release its parent album, The Glamour Chase, and with MacKenzie over a million pounds in debt to the label The Associates were dropped.

Circa quickly signed MacKenzie and in 1990 released Wild And Lonely, the last album of original music under the The Associates name. 1992's album, the Thomas Fehlmann / Boris Blank-produced Outernational was issued under the artist name Billy MacKenzie. Even though the album had good reviews in the press and Baby was single of the week in Melody Maker, the album stiffed - partially due to Circa winding down operations.

Aside from an aborted Associates reunion with Alan Rankine in the mid-90s, MacKenzie remained a solo artist, collaborating in the 90s with Peach, Barry Adamson, Paul Haig and Apollo Four Forty amongst others. At the end of 1996, after four years without a deal, he signed with Nude Records.

Tragically his first release for the label was a posthumous one. The death of his mother in 1996 was likely the trigger of an emotional breakdown that led him deeper and deeper into a depressed state. Billy MacKenzie died aged 39, on 22nd January 1997 from an overdose of prescribed and over-the-counter pills.
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Albums

0060.331 The Associates - The Affectionate Punch album art The Associates The Affectionate Punch (Album) Fiction Records 0060.331 Germany 1980 Sell This Version
23727-4 The Associates - Sulk album art The Associates Sulk (Album, Comp) Associates, Beggars Banquet 23727-4 US 1982 Sell This Version
WX 9C, 240 497-4 The Associates - Perhaps album art The Associates Perhaps (Album) WEA, WEA WX 9C, 240 497-4 UK & Europe 1985 Sell This Version
none The Associates - The Glamour Chase album art The Associates The Glamour Chase(Cass, Album, Promo) WEA none UK 1988 Sell This Version
CIRCA 11, 210 631 The Associates - Wild And Lonely album art The Associates Wild And Lonely (Album) Circa, Circa CIRCA 11, 210 631 UK 1990 Sell This Version
billycd 1 The Associates - Wild And Lonely album art The Associates Wild And Lonely Circa billycd 1 UK 1990 Sell This Version
none The Associates - Billy Mackenzie & The Associates In Concert album art Billy Mackenzie & The Associates Billy Mackenzie & The Associates - Billy Mackenzie & The Associates In Concert(14xFile, MP3) Not On Label (Billy Mackenzie) none 2011

Singles & EPs

DHR 1 The Associates - Boys Keep Swinging album art The Associates Boys Keep Swinging (Single) Double Hip Records DHR 1 UK 1979 Sell This Version
FICS 11, 2059 265 The Associates - The Affectionate Punch album art The Associates The Affectionate Punch (Single) Fiction Records, Fiction Records FICS 11, 2059 265 UK 1980 Sell This Version
sit 10t The Associates - Message Oblique Speech album art Associates* Message Oblique Speech (Single) Situation Two sit 10t UK 1981 Sell This Version
SIT 1/12" The Associates - Tell Me Easter's On Friday album art The Associates Tell Me Easter's On Friday (Single) Situation Two SIT 1/12" UK 1981 Sell This Version
Sit11 The Associates - White Car In Germany album art The Associates White Car In Germany (Single) Situation Two Sit11 UK 1981 Sell This Version
SIT 4 The Associates - Q Quarters album art The Associates Q Quarters (Single) Situation Two SIT 4 UK 1981 Sell This Version
FICSX 13 The Associates - A album art Associates* A (Single) Fiction Records FICSX 13 UK 1981 Sell This Version
SIT7, SIT 7 The Associates - Kitchen Person album art Associates* Kitchen Person (Single) Situation Two, Situation Two SIT7, SIT 7 UK 1981 Sell This Version
RSO 78 The Associates - Kites / A Girl Named Property album art 39 Lyon Street / The Associates 39 Lyon Street / The Associates - Kites / A Girl Named Property (Single) RSO RSO 78 UK 1981 Sell This Version
2090-559 The Associates - Kites / A Girl Named Property album art 39 Lyon Street / The Associates 39 Lyon Street / The Associates - Kites / A Girl Named Property(7", Single) RSO 2090-559 New Zealand 1981 Sell This Version
WEA 18.967 The Associates - Party Fears Two album art Associates* Party Fears Two (Single) Associates WEA 18.967 Netherlands 1982 Sell This Version
FICSX 16, 2141 654 The Associates - A Matter Of Gender album art Associates* A Matter Of Gender (Single) Fiction Records, Fiction Records FICSX 16, 2141 654 UK 1982 Sell This Version
Flexipop 020 The Associates - Even Dogs In The Wild album art Associates* Even Dogs In The Wild (Single) Flexipop Flexipop 020 UK 1982 Sell This Version
ASC3, ASC 3 The Associates - 18 Carat Love Affair / Love Hangover album art Associates* 18 Carat Love Affair / Love Hangover (Single) Associates, Associates, Beggars Banquet, Beggars Banquet ASC3, ASC 3 UK 1982 Sell This Version
asc2 The Associates - Club Country album art Associates* Club Country (Single) Associates asc2 UK 1982 Sell This Version
7249392 The Associates - Those First Impressions album art Associates* Those First Impressions (Single) WEA, WEA 7249392 New Zealand 1984 Sell This Version
24 9306 - 0 The Associates - Waiting For The Loveboat album art The Associates Waiting For The Loveboat (Single) WEA, WEA 24 9306 - 0 Spain 1984 Sell This Version
248 919-0, YZ 47T The Associates - Take Me To The Girl album art The Associates Take Me To The Girl (Single) WEA, WEA 248 919-0, YZ 47T Germany 1985 Sell This Version

Reviews

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futureimage

futureimage

February 27, 2006
edited over 15 years ago
Well, if it was any band that should still be alive today, it's the Associates. They took Joy Division's sound, added much higher vocals, and evolved their ideas tenfold.
Recommended Albums: Sulk, Fourth Drawer Down, The Radio 1 Sessions (1981-1983), Singles.
After the loss of Alan Rankine, Billy MacKenzie couldn't replace the unique ideas and sounds that Alan had produced, so after Perhaps, the synth-punk sound was lost amongst the drum machines and digital synths.
Associates definitely have to be one of the most underrated names in synth-punk.

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