The Knife used to have a passing acquaintance – no more than that – in the 1980’s with Billy Mackenzie, who was a delightful person when I first met him, but became a bit difficult after he got famous – Top of the Pops, record deals etc. I guess drugs had played their part. The Associates were a great live act, and the first album in particular, The Affectionate Punch, was/is quite wonderful. This very entertaining blog reminiscence by Steve Aungle tells you a lot about the time and about the man himself.
The songs were original and often brilliant, but the highlight was Billy’s voice. Really quite something.
Here though is Billy singing a cover, Gloomy Sunday. Not from The Affectionate Punch, but the subsequent Sulk, itself a pretty unusual work. A remarkable song about death and suicide, and I think, better than the more famous version by another Billie (Holliday)
“If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!”