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Baker's Dozen

Perfect Calibrations: Simon Raymonde's Favourite Albums
Colm McAuliffe , February 6th, 2014 09:02

Following the release of his new album with Snowbird, the former Cocteau Twins man and Bella Union boss gives us his rundown of his all-time (on this given day) favourite records


Associates - Sulk
I co-produced six tracks on Billy Mackenzie's posthumous album Beyond The Sun and that was one of the most privileged moments of my life. It was very difficult because he hadn't been dead for a very long time and it felt raw, hearing his vocals so upfront with this bare backing of piano, it felt almost like, "I'm not sure I should be doing this? Is this allowed? Are you okay with this Billy?" but at the same time, it was quite inspiring. Sulk is a completely crazy record but also one of the most important pop records of our time because it took pop music to a completely different place. He used to come into the record shop when I worked at Beggars because Situation 2, which was the label the Associates were signed to after Fiction, was above the record shop. I was eighteen years old and he'd turn up sometimes in a white Rolls Royce. He was such an extravagant character, such fun and such a lovely person with it. Billy was a gentlemen, a complete maverick, full of life, he used to bound into the record shop, leap over the counter and have an acetate of a track they'd just finished cutting and put it on the record player in the shop, blasting it out loud, telling everyone, "This is our new record!" Can you imagine that happening now?! But away from that, the record is incredible. Him and [Alan] Rankine were a fantastic songwriting team. And the production on that record is fantastic, the way they sped up acoustic guitars so they didn't really sound like acoustic guitars, gave the record a really unusual sound. Billy's vocals are on a par with Scott Walker and in many ways, they are more adventurous. Scott was a crooner who was making this sombre, dark music but Billy was doing something on the edge of sanity. And the lyrics were barmy, didn't make any sense at all! But it was utterly thrilling and you just wanted to be along for the ride. Live, again, they weren't always amazing, a bit hit and miss because it's very hard to recreate that detail in a shitty club with a crappy PA. But those TV performances of 'Skipping' and 'Party Fears Two', even 'Club Country' on Top Of The Pops, are all brilliant and I still miss him, I still think, "If he were around now, he'd probably be making some of the best fucking records around."