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on 30 August 2004
There has been much purple prose written about the music of Billy Mackenzie and the Associates - about his operatic voice, his cheeky demeanour, his insatiable lust for life...but most of it came after his untimely death. By the time he died Billy was forgotten by the mainstream music press...but some of us remembered him, willing him back into the charts where he belonged.Tom Doyle's book is a masterclass in how music biographies should be written - Billy is in turn funny and frustrating, inspiring and infuriating.Tales of excess and largesse reveal a complicated man driven by fame but endlessly pulling away from it.Record company indifference and the clamour for commercial success contribute to him being marginalised at the fringes of the music biz but in the end Billy was master of his own destiny and perhaps the most telling passage comes when he's engaged in conversation with a former bandmate Steve Knight telling him how everybody is prophesising big things for him ''But I'm not gonna do it, I'm just gonna throw it all away''. Read this book , buy yourself a copy of Sulk and remember him.
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on 7 December 2001
Tom Doyle's book about Billy Mackenzie is the greatest rock n roll story ever told. Except that it's not really about rock n roll. It's got nothing to do with sex and drugs or throwing TVs out of hotel windows. Billy's biography is a hugely funny, strangely innocent, ultimately tragic family story.
He was the handsome, charismatic, mischievous frontman of 80s Scottish pop band The Associates. Looking like a cross between Johnny Depp and Mickey Rourke, Mackenzie had a voice that could scale three octaves and still burst a microphone with its power.
Not surprisingly, everybody - including Warner Records - thought Billy would go on to become a global mega-star. And s a young man, he did really, really wanted to be a pop star and he loved music. But, most of all, he loved his family... he loved his whippets... and he loved a laugh.
Mackenzie was an unusual guy, with an irrepressible sense of humour. He was a
charmer from a tough, 'rag-and-bone trade' background. And he'd been an athlete at
school. So, he could handle himself in a business deal, or indeed a punch-up.
The one story most people know about Mackenzie is how he was eventually 'let go' by
Warners. They'd invested a fortune in him. He'd given them a few hits, given the A&R
man assigned to look after him a nervous breakdown, pulled heaps of scams, stunts and
gags on them. And though he never owned up, he had probably pinched the master
tapes to one of his own albums - which are still missing.
And even when Warners finally had had enough, they still liked him. So they took him to
lunch to tell him the bad news: he was being 'dropped'. As they were leaving Billy said to
Max Hole, their A&R man: 'Don't look so sad Max." And Max asked "Will you be alright?"
And Mackenzie replied "Yeah. But, do you think I could get a cab home on the company
account?" And Max agreed. So, Billy took the company cab home... to Scotland - 600
miles away.
Buy this book. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll click on Amazon and buy the music.
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on 7 May 2004
Tom Doyle is a gifted writer. His research is thorough and he manages to remain objective even while it is clear that he was a big fan of Billy's. He writes with humour and compassion and once I'd started reading this fascinating and tragic account of one of the greatest pop stars who never was I couldn't put it down till I reached the end; at which point I had to find some Associates tracks and read it again!
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on 3 September 2001
Tom Doyle's book about Billy Mackenzie is the greatest rock n roll story ever told. Except that it's not really about rock n roll. It's got nothing to do with sex and drugs or throwing TVs out of hotel windows. Billy's biography is a hugely funny, strangely innocent, ultimately tragic family story.
He was the handsome, charismatic, mischievous frontman of 80s Scottish pop band The Associates. Looking like a cross between Johnny Depp and Mickey Rourke, Mackenzie had a voice that could scale three octaves and still burst a microphone with its power.
Not surprisingly, everybody - including Warner Records - thought Billy would go on to become a global mega-star. And as a young man, he did really, really wanted to be a pop star and he loved music. But, most of all, he loved his family... he loved his whippets... and he loved a laugh.
Mackenzie was an unusual guy, with an irrepressible sense of humour. He was a charmer from a tough, 'rag-and-bone trade' background. And he'd been an athlete at school. So, he could handle himself in a business deal, or indeed a punch-up.
The one story most people know about Mackenzie is how he was eventually 'let go' by Warners. They'd invested a fortune in him. He'd given them a few hits, given the A&R man assigned to look after him a nervous breakdown, pulled heaps of scams, stunts and gags on them. And though he never owned up, he had probably pinched the master tapes to one of his own albums - which are still missing.
And even when Warners finally had had enough, they still liked him. So they took him to lunch to tell him the bad news: he was being 'dropped'. As they were leaving Billy said to Max Hole, their A&R man: 'Don't look so sad Max." And Max asked "Will you be alright?" And Mackenzie replied "Yeah. But, do you think I could get a cab home on the company account?" And Max agreed. So, Billy took the company cab home... to Scotland - 600 miles away.
Buy this book. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll click on Amazon and buy the music.
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on 1 April 2016
Bonnie Prince Billy Mackenzie

by

Rob Jones

A remarkable read is the 1998 Tom Doyle biography ‘The Glamour Chase: The Maverick Life of Billy Mackenzie’. Mackenzie was both a unique performer and a charismatic character. The Scottish songster built up a library of wondrous work via The Associates, his solo songs & an array of collaborations.
Billy sadly passed away on January 22, 1997, aged 39-and, he left a catalogue of inspiring records that is testament to a truly tangible talent. The unknowing should immediately dig out a copy of the 1982 Associates album ‘Sulk’ which still sounds fresh and vital two decades on from its original appearance. Another recommended work is ‘Double Hipness’ (which is a 24 carat collection of renowned anthems plus rare, live & unreleased tunes) and ‘The Associates Radio 1 Sessions Vol. 1(81-83) & Vol.2 (83-85)’.
This library of long players is joined by The Associates digitally remastered, debut album, ‘The Affectionate Punch’-which via Universal Records was made available on CD for the first time, twenty five years after its release (with four bonus tracks). The ten original tracks throw away the pop text book via the creation of a pristine product that is described as being ‘sophisticated and exotic’ by Colin Summerville in the sleeve notes.
This album is majestical-proving that the 80’s were far from musically redundant-and, this often overlooked band was at the core of invention! The quest for perfection is achieved via velvet vocals iced on to soaring songs that never take the easy option. Tunes such as the title track, ‘Transport to Central’, ‘A matter of Gender’, and ‘Even dogs in the Wild’, ease their way in to your consciousness, and their melodic magnetism refuses to exit. The Associates were ahead of the time, and the voice of bonnie king Billy is a true treasure.
The throw away pap that dominates the radio airwaves of today would not be fit to lace the boots of the aspirations of The Associates. May the soul of Billy rest in peace and may his music continue to have an affectionate punch!
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on 14 April 2013
As a massive fan of The Associates and indeed Billy Mackenzie this book is just brilliant!!
Their songs were very much part of the 'soundtrack to my life'..in the early 1980's
With this book Tom Doyle brilliantlytells the Billy Mackenzie Story.. An artist who sadly is no longer wth us..
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 December 2011
Given the passion felt by fans like me towards the subject of 'The Glamour Chase', this book would have been a tall order for any writer as so much is expected. At the risk of seeming to be a lone voice, I don't believe Tom Doyle is a great writer though his credentials in terms of having met and come from the same town as MacKenzie and gone on to become a contributing editor to Q and a contributor to Mojo, The Times and The Guardian are undeniable. How I would loved to have seen Paul Morley, Nick Kent or Charles Shaar Murray's take on the life of Billy MacKenzie. Equally, I don't believe this review will deter any ardent fan - or even anyone justifiably keen to find out more about MacKenzie - from buying this book. It is essential reading but largely due to the fact that there is so little else out there and I was delighted to see it reprinted in 2011 as I'd waited a long time to read it after missing its original 1998 publication.

For a writer with Doyle's credentials, I was left disappointed. I feel that more research and interviews with those closely connected with Billy would have made for a book which truly soared - much like the voice, deep and gorgeous and semi-operatic. I would have liked to see more of Alan Rankine's takes on things; surely he would have had much to contribute as Billy's former Associate? There are more tantalising facts in 'The Glamour Chase' than you can shake a diamante encrusted stick at. I was fascinated and intrigued by the boutique MacKenzie opened in Dundee funded by his father which ultimately folded. I was dismayed that Doyle had not thought to pursue this story in more detail - Dundee cannot have been awash with boutiques and Dundee residents of a certain age must have memories of the place and the proprietor. A minor tributary of Billy's life albeit but interesting and insufficiently explored, particularly as two persistent themes of Billy's life appear to have been his visual sense/vanity and a shy desire not to stray too close from his home that presumably resulted in him opening a boutique in Dundee in the first place and in the end was in large part responsible for the 'unfulfilled promise' so often referred to when MacKenzie is written about.

Very fertile ground which again is not explored as fully as it might have been is Billy's gypsy heritage which is touched on throughout 'The Glamour Chase', disappointing as again it seems to hold some of the keys to MacKenzie's character and psyche which produced the engaging, vastly talented and enigmatic man who has stayed in our imaginations some thirty years past his Associates heyday. Lots of apparent dichotomies vied and jostled for position in Billy and some of these are emblematic of his cultural heritage. There is life, raw and passionate, the notion of the outsider looking in, the connection with animals and the great success Billy had breeding his beloved whippets.

The 'outsider looking in' is perhaps one of the most significant themes of Billy MacKenzie's life and it extended to his sexuality. Again, an area not sufficiently explored by the author but one which appears to have informed his very being and the way Billy meshed with the world, by turns coquettish, by turns a colossus in a pop industry almost too small and bounded to contain him and one which would ultimately bore him.

So many fascinating avenues in this book come to dead ends. As a reader I found myself stringing together sets of themes in my head as I read and waiting for a moment which never really came, when they would get strung together by Doyle.

We cannot know why Billy took his life. Yet you might hope that a book with the stated aim of exploring the man's life could have taken its time to explore some possible answers. I have thought about this a lot since reading 'The Glamour Chase' and I'm not much further forward. It appeared to have been triggered by his mother's death and a refusal to be 'punctured' by the world. There is a sense in which it sounds defiantly romantic, even heroic. Certainly it seems clear that Billy did not make an exit because he felt the world had defeated him, rather because he was utterly determined it would not defeat him.

I cannot, cannot give this book less than a five star review. I can't do it for fear that some casual browser of Amazon one day be deterred from finding out more about Billy MacKenzie, his music and THAT voice. He still resonates loud and clear. The essence of the man lives on in his fans, I guess. One day a most fantastic book will be written about a man as difficult to pin down as a mountain stream. Until then, 'The Glamour Chase' will have to do.
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on 8 June 2016
I bought this for my wife who is a huge fan of Billy McKenzie (RIP) and the Associates. I did well actually as I was hoping that she didn't already have it and I was right. I'm reviewing based on her comments and she said it was a brilliant read and that she really enjoyed it. If you are a fan of the late Mr McKenzie's work, or a fan of 80's synth pop or Scottish pop then you should enjoy it.
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on 4 March 2016
Really enjoyed the book as a fan of the associates and similar music from that period and have witnessed them live on a couple of occasions, found the book very informative and didn't realise what a complex character Billy was and enjoyed the insight into this ....great read
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on 14 February 2013
Fantastic book a pleasure reading about golden years with Associates and one of the most influencing band of the eighties. Good price and fast delivery from amazon. Thanks!!
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