Monday, 14 March 2016

Vintage Vinyl #16

The Associates - Party Fears Two 7"
Bought from: The Record Shop, Cardiff
Price paid: £1

Back in the early to mid 80s, when I was still learning about pop music, I would buy discount compilation albums, the sort where you'd get two records bundled together as a double pack. This was pre-'Now That's What I Call Music' days. I can't remember many of them now, they are long gone. But one such set compiled hits from 1982. One track included was Party Fears Two by the Associates. I knew nothing about them but was familiar with the song from listening to the chart show on Radio One every Sunday evening.

Many of my friends in our blogging circle have rightly made much of Billy MacKenzie and his tremendously unique voice, so I don't see much point in repeating it. Having said that, I do believe it is MacKenzie who makes this record what it is. While it does have that infectious earworm of a synth riff repeating at regular intervals, I can't help thinking it might have gone largely unnoticed if sung by anyone else. The guy's range is phenomenal. No one else sounded like him, that's for sure.

It all went pear-shaped after this. The band's third album 'Sulk', from which Party Fears Two and its b-side were taken, went top 10 and wowed the critics. However, the next album was refused by the record company and remained unreleased for 20 years. The next two failed to set the charts alight, the critics weren't keen either and the band split in 1991. You all know about Billy MacKenzie's tragic end, so we won't dwell on that.

This is probably in most people's top 5 80s synth-pop records of all time. As someone who finds little in the way of emotion or inspiration in electronic music, maybe I'm not one to venture much of an opinion on the genre. That said, Party Fears Two does make my list as it really is such a stand out.


By the way, in case you've not heard, the first couple of Associates albums are getting the deluxe reissue treatment and are scheduled for release in May. And as if by coincidence, I just found out that Party Fears Two is getting re-released for Record Store Day in the UK with an unreleased version of Australia on the b-side.

In the meantime, here's Billy & gang on Top Of The Pops for the first time. This clip sums up everything there ever was to simultaneously love and hate TotP at the same time!


  1. Still a quite extraordinary single.

  2. All of the singles around the time of Sulk are simply wonderful. There are certain eras in the life of Associates when it's all about Billy's vocals, to be sure, but I think songs like this one, Club Country, 18 Carat Love Affair and Love Hangover are times when the instrumentation can stand proudly side by side with that beautiful voice. Great purchase!

  3. Wonderful. But you knew I'd say that.

    Was voted #1 all time Scottish single in a poll a few years ago

  4. Sulk - along with Propaganda's 'A Secret Wish' - two of the greatest albums ever released (Darren Stuart, Brighton)