|1. White Car in Germany|
|2. A Girl Named Property|
|3. Kitchen Person|
|4. Q Quarters|
|5. Tell Me Easter's On Friday|
|6. The Associate|
|7. Message Oblique Speech|
|8. An Even Whiter Car|
|9. Fearless (It takes a Full Moon)|
|10. Point SI|
|11. Straw Towels|
|13. Blue soap|
The various singles are here: Tell Me Easter's on Friday (with flipside Straw Towels), the buzzing Message Oblique Speech- a definite relative of Nag Nag Nag & Being Boiled & the sinister Q-Quarters- which details a dystopic SF-image which ties in with this album. This collection advances on the template set by Bowie/Eno on Low & "Heroes" (Mackenzie recorded The Secret Life of Arabia on the debut BEF album, while Associates debut single was a cover of Boy's Keep Swinging!- see the Double Hipness compilation), taking pop to uncharted realms in this experimental era. The Associate is a bizarre funk song, that showcases dazzling keyboards & is syncopated by the screams of Mackenzie & co as cups were smashed over their heads (don't ask...). A Girl Named Property sounds like Scott Walker playing a song from The Cure's Faith, backed by Suicide- while single Kitchen Person has an accelerating beat, reminiscent of a chemical rush & odd noises created by guitar & a hoover-attachment- hard to make out what Billy is saying, which is just part of the joy...
An Even Whiter Car (instrumental relative of White Car in Germany & b-side of Kitchen Person) is as out there as Bowie/Eno's V-2 Schneider & Warsawzawa: imagine if Christiane F was a SF film directed by Visconti (& you're getting closer...)This would be the soundtrack...Fearless (It Takes a Full Moon) & Kissed showcase a mutant fusion of post-punk funk with SF-synths- into alien territory & towards the towering achievment that was Sulk (easily one of the Top Five albums ever released). The final track, Blue Soap, displays the deranged sensibilities of Associates- Billy in the bath singing 'Blue Soap' as White Car in Germany plays & water runs...
Ahhh, White Car in Germany- the greatest track here & one of the key Mackenzie-moments, alongside Breakfast, Partyfearstwo, Sour Jewel, Pain in Any Language & Nocturne VII. This song sounds decades ahead of its time, Rankine's electronic flux backing Billy's wildest vocals & captured by Mike Hedges. Billy's vocals appear to fuse with the opening guitars, before the song comes in proper: "lisp your way through Zurich/Walk on eggs in Munich"- here Billy was the European son: the international loner, the eurocentric. The European canon lead here. This song is years ahead of trip hop related fayre- such as Tricky, Massive Attack, Portishead & Goldfrapp- fusing soundtrack elements with a distinct vocal, this fits more with material like Tricky's Suffocated Love & Goldfrapp's Lovely Head than say Duran Duran or Ultravox. It sounds so alien- which is why it's as great as Bowie, Cocteau Twins (who Rankine would produce Peppermint Pig for), The Sugacubes & AR Kane.
Fourth Drawer Down is experimental pop music at its wildest, it's fusion of electronica & soul has much in common with recent records produced by NERD & Timbaland (Like I Love You, More Than a Woman) & should be adored by anyone who appreciates early Roxy music or Bowie from Station to Station to "Heroes" (not to forget albums like Ege Bamyasi, Another Green World & Red Mecca). There may be the totalitarian music critic notion that New Order were the only experimental band of the 80s, prior to The Stone Roses (really, how amusing!)- but Associates from Affectionate Punch to Sulk were something else. A great collection of mutant pop, of Sci-Fi arias to aliens & moving towards the brief burst of perfect pop that saw albums such as New Gold Dream, Lexicon of Love, Songs to Remember & Sulk. These are pop idols, eternal, perfect & blue on this budget price CD...
For the Associates, the disco is a haunted place, everyday life is a feverish and jittery experience and for that reason, thrilling. It was mostly recorded at night, which tells in its restless mood.
If proof of its greatness was needed, what other album has influenced artists from the most industrial to the most mainstream?
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