on 26 August 2006
The late Billy Mackenzie was an awesomely fascinating singer whose finest work can be found on The Associates' albums "Sulk" and "Fourth Drawer Down". The lightweight songwriting and superficial production on his 1990 album "Wild And Lonely" came as a minor disappointment to both fans and critics. 16 years on, and 9 years after Mackenzie took his life, "Wild And Lonely" has now been re-released in a remastered edition with added bonus tracks. Despite sounding slightly dated back in 1990, the music has aged surprisingly well, and Mackenzie's vocals, while nowhere near as dramatic as in his early eighties heydays, are still captivatingly stunning and second to none. Especially the tracks from the old vinyl album's b-side, "Where There's Love", "Strasbourg Square", "Ever Since That Day" and "Wild And Lonely" with their wide range from baritone crooning to falsetto drama (oscillating from one to the other within a verse, sometimes within a single line) are very impressive, the only flaws here the mostly inoffensive and sometimes outright bland instrumentaion. Nevertheless, all songs (with the possible exception of "Calling ...", which is just a little too bland) are fine songs, and as a pop album, "Wild And Lonely" is truly enjoyable. The choice of the cover versions that appeared on the b-sides of the accompanying singles (included here as bonus tracks) is even more MOR in both production and song material, but even on a track like "Green Tambourine" Billy's voice is the saving grace, positively seductive and bringing out an ambiguity hidden behind the plain words.
One more quote from Billy's own lyrics: "... standing there with a broken key/to an open door/God it's only me ... wild ... and lonely". If one considers the chances (for success) Billy Mackenzie had, and, sadly, let pass by, the words make (painful) sense ...
on 14 March 2008
The consensus of opinion seems to be that "Wild and lonely" is a bit lame, and I'm finally moved to write in its defence. I have a pile of late Mackenzie CD's that get heavy rotation and this is one of the ones that really has enduring quality. IMHO there is no point scouring BM's later output for the glorious arrogance of the Rankine years, but whereas the early stuff can sound emotionally brittle and even tiresome on a bad day, "Wild And Lonely" was paid for in blood and is the work of someone with considerably more to say. BM's own vision, ironically, was quite subtle and i think he struggled to find a musical sleight of hand that would turn the glittering seam of genius to the sun. Meanwhile the last album "Behind The Sun", glossed as a new beginning, to me suffers from resurgent campness, the accompanying piano and indeed the vocals seeming in danger of trottin out torch songs by numbers. On that album he seems to lapse into cosmic imagery as his real emotional state became, one conjectures, inexpressibly desotate.
On the other hand, "Wild And Lonely", is an unfussy, concise collection - the understated tell-tale of emotional authenticity. There is a finely judged sense of being trapped within his life that comes from the effortless/ironic knockabout of "just Can't Say Goodbye" and "Calling All Around The World" -the two more or less upbeat songs. Meanwhile, there is a troubling, jagged quality to "People We Meet" Something's Got To Give" and "Ever Since That Day" that gives the (apparent) histrionics real staying power, so that the vocal tour-de-force on these songs (never in short supply in the BM oeuvre) just seems to get scarier and scarier over time. Finally, "Wild And lonely" a quieter song, is a ruthlessly direct account of BM's own messed-up existence, delivered without affectation. He perhaps got closer here than you think to the reckless spirit of the early Associates albums: whereas the early Associates stuff doesn't care if your ears bleed, this one doesn't care if you write it off as bland. Finally, the album lives up to its title, being unruly, heedless of popular opinion, and as history continues to show, terribly misunderstood.
on 22 December 2004
An achingly beautiful (and quite catchy) set of songs from the late, great Billy McKenzie (The Associates minus Alan Rankine, sadly). Lyrically intricate and cheerful and pensive by turns - the music is fairly up-beat for Associates tracks but hits the right chord if you just want to be enveloped by great music from a mysteriously iconic and talented artist. From the echoey piano cadences of Strasbourg Square to the obviously eighties pop-influenced All Around The World it's very welcome to listen to these largely non-experimental tracks and just enjoy them for what they are.
on 23 August 2006
There are some fantasic songs on this CD sung beautifully by in my opinion the greatest singer of our time, Billy Mackenzie. If you own other Associates/Billy Mackenzie CDs I urge you to buy this, The Glamour Chase, Just Can't Say Goodbye, Strasbourg Square, Where There's Love, and Fever are some of Billys best songs. If you're new to Billy Mackenzie/Associates music buy this Cd or good starting points are the albums Perhaps and Sulk.
on 28 July 2016
I realise this album isn't popular with everyone, but having listened to all their previous albums I think this is definitely the best, with The Glamour Chase a close second.. The songwriting is great. The production may be a lot slicker than previous albums, but I don't feel it flat or bland. Definitely more of a mature sound and a transition into his solo work.
on 28 May 2016
Having known Billy and being gifted an original acetate print of this Album with original engineer settings , I feel the sounds on this re-mastered edition just misses the spot but that's a tech thing( and so often the case with re mastering), it does not take away from his amazing gift to take you on a path with every track , holding you on every note. A talent that current performers should listen to for inspiration
on 14 December 2008
As with "Outernational", this Abbey Road remaster reveals hidden depths and layers that the original version only hinted at. Criticised for its leaden 80s production at the time, now these tracks sound far less plastic and dated and a lot more vibrant and relevant, particularly the second half of the album. With the exception of the ghastly "Calling All Around The World", the songs aren't very immediate but consistently strong. Thank you for making them shine, Sean Magee!