Billy Mackenzie was unique. Blessed with an extraordinary voice, which shifted effortlessly from bass blues to falsetto diva posturing, the Dundee-born Mackenzie fronted the Associates' early 80s series of archly literature, miraculously melodious hit singles and a classic album, Sulk. But the success collapsed, and saving a few scattered moments of genius, Mackenzie fell into obscurity. When news broke in January 1997 that he had killed himself days before his 40th birthday, most people had long forgotten he was alive.
Tom Doyle is a Dundee lad himself who first met Mackenzie in his teens. From a plethora of interviews, he has fashioned a fascinatingly intimate account of Billy's rise and fall. Although print can never capture that voice, Doyle depicts Mackenzie as good old-fashioned genius: temperamental and perfectionist to the point of neurosis. Doyle recreates some marvellous moments, such as Mackenzie's first television appearance, and his encounter with Shirley Bassey, who recorded his The Rhythm Divine. But the lasting impression is one of chaos and waste--of one of music's most idiosyncratic talents thrown away by a recording industry that had not the faintest idea what to do with him. Hopefully Doyle's book will get Mackenzie back in the public eye--and his long out-of-print oeuvre back in the record shops. --Alan Stewart
'An affectionate portrait and incredibly well informed. A fine epitaph for an extraordinary character and talent.' --Record Collector