A couple of months back, many blogs and indeed paid-for publications, paid tribute on the 20th Anniversary of the very sad passing of the great Billy Mackenzie.

I’ve never hidden my affection for Billy in terms of his musical legacy and the incredibly complex individual he proved to be. Myself and Jacques the Kipper happened to be in Dundee for a football match shortly after said anniverary and we took a short detour on our walk up to the ground so that we could pass by 39 Lyon Street and the tenement block from where Billy’s career was launched.

It was a deliberate decision not to mark the anniversary on the blog as it fell so close to today and what would have been his 60th birthday. Regular readers will know, thanks to the many amazing pieces he has contributed over the years to this blog, that Sid Law can be counted as one of the biggest and most knowledgable fans out there. We had a little e-mail exchange back in January and as he said:-

“It was a dark, grim January day twenty years ago – why mark it anymore? I think it is a much more positive and cool thing to celebrate Billy’s birthday.”

And Sid, being such a fine and generous individual has provided some great gifts to be handed out on such a special occasion to which I’ll also add something.

Those First Impressions should have been a big hit back in the summer of 1984 but it stalled just outside the charts. A shimmering poptastic 12″ extended version was released at the time which has never appeared digitally or on any of the re-issues. Unique and a lovely thing. So straight from my vinyl copy:-

mp3 : Associates – Those First Impressions (extended version)

A shorter version with a drum intro (different from the single version) appeared on the Heart of Glass CD EP a few years later and never made available anywhere else. So courtesy of Sid:-

mp3 : Associates – Those First Impressions (drum intro)

But here’s something really unique from Sid. Billy’s original demo for the track. Never released of course.

mp3 : Billy Mackenzie – Those First Impressions (demo version)

Finally for today. Here’s Sid to explain:-

This little beauty attached I’d had on a cassette of a wavering studio monitor mix with fluctuating levels, then about five or six years back Steve Aungle dropped this marvellous cleaned up and properly finished-off version out on his blog – for free. An incredible gesture. Nobody has really heard this song.

mp3 : Billy Mackenzie – The Mountains That You Climb

Happy birthday Billy.  Your legacy is more greatly appreciated more these days than when you were with us. But I guess you always reckoned that would be the case.

Indeed, such is the significance of said legacy that the blog, for the rest of this week, will be devoted to his music (with an occasional bonus posting for other things).

JC and Sid Law


  1. Ever since fall of 1981, when I by chance bought The Associates 7″ A, and flipped over to the b-side Would I …Bounce Back, I’ve been a devoted follower of both Billy’s and Alan’s work. I always advocate The Associates as the best band ever, and in my eyes they still hold that position.
    RIP Billy, never forgotten.

  2. Associates and Simple Minds both came to my attention in 1982. I worked backwards with both, snapping up the treasures in their rich back catologues. The original incarnations of both bands along with Orange Juice remain to this day IMHO the three greatest Scottish bands of all time.

  3. Simply, thank you.

    An immense personality whose talent only amplifies with each passing year. Happy Birthday, Billy.

  4. What a treat to hear this demo. Have always loved the extended version too. Gonna be a great week. Thanks for remembering Billy, fellas.

  5. Thanks JC and Sid! Nothing could be better than a week of celebrating the genius and artistry of Billy MacKenzie. Billy was always a Rock Star, a natural celebrity, a quick burning flame. For me he was and remains a musical Giant. Billy followed no one. He didn’t need to. His was an art found deep in his mind, even deeper in his soul – and all of that came out in his music.
    The demo sent chills up my spine and The Mountains That You Climb is just sublime Pop of a thoroughly different kind.

  6. Used to hear his singles on the radio. Had NO idea how lucky I was. Thank you for doing this.

    Steve in Toronto

  7. Yow! I was away for a week’s vacation and missed a whole series of posts on the godlike genius of Billy MacKenzie! Picking up that copy of “Popera” in 1990 was the pivotal moment where I became the Post-Punk Monk; more or less obsessed with the past in the face of an uncaring present. More interested in unearthing music of the past that I had missed the first time instead of the less interesting music of the present. Of course, very few things I’ve encountered in the last 27 years come within in spitting distance of the brilliance of The Associates or Billy MacKenzie.

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