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Associates Singles [2 Discs]
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Tracks

1. Boys Keep Swinging

2. The Affectionate Punch

3. Tell Me Easter's On Friday

4. Kites

5. Q Quarters

6. Kitchen Person

7. A

8. Message Oblique Speech

9. White Car In Germany

10. Party Fears Two

11. Club Country

12. 18 Carat Love Affair

13. Love Hangover

14. Ice Cream Factory

15. A Matter Of Gender

16. Those First Impressions

17. Waiting For The Loveboat

18. Breakfast

19. Take Me To The Girl

20. Heart Of Glass

21. Country Boy

22. Fever

23. Fire To Ice

24. Waiting For The Loveboat (Slight Return)

25. Just Can't Say Goodbye

26. Baby

27. Colours Will Come

28. Pastime Paradise

Performer Notes
  • This is a 2004 collection of tracks recorded by the 1980s Scottish art-pop band the Associates.
  • Who could've known from Associates' first single -- a skeletal, spirited, practically all-rhythm corkscrewing of Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging," released only a few weeks after the original -- that they'd proceed to record some of the most bizarre, most claustrophobic, most energizing, most inexplicable singles of the '80s? From 1980 through 1982, they were as pop as ABC and as not-pop as the Pop Group, occasionally at the same time. Soaring melodies were bounced off frayed-nerve dissonance, topped by lyrics that could wrench the soul and then scramble the brain. Singles, the best Associates compilation to date, acts as an improved, expanded, more in-depth version of 1990's Popera, widening the scope to cover some of Billy Mackenzie's solo-in-name material while leaving enough room for one-off diversions, such as Mackenzie Sings Orbidoig's deliriously breathless cover of Schwartz Kapell's "Ice Cream Factory." Popera's lack of chronological sense -- i.e., "Let's just tuck the weird early stuff at the end and begin with the big chart hit, and maybe no one will notice" -- is rectified here, so you wind your way through the maverick Situation 2 singles, the concurrently dense and glossy Sulk era, the too easily slagged, relatively contemporary post-Rankine years, and tracks from Mackenzie's Outernational sessions. Collectors will want to take note, not only for the unreleased songs dating from Outernational, but also for the inclusions of 39 Lyon Street's "Kites," the original mix of "The Affectionate Punch," and the single edits of the A-sides that made up half of Fourth Drawer Down (perversely, they often sound less like singles than the album versions). The remastered sound, courtesy of Associates associate Michael Dempsey, is excellent, and the liner notes are thorough, full of anecdotes. Bizarrely, none of the photos include Alan Rankine. Though this set was necessary, you'll still need The Affectionate Punch, Fourth Drawer Down, and Sulk. ~ Andy Kellman
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