SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #123 & #124 : HAIG/MACKENZIE

Memory Palace is the collection of songs recorded by long time friends Paul Haig and Billy Mackenzie at various times between 1993-95. They were both fairly disillusioned with the music industry at this time and without record deals to constrain them they sought to fill the void by getting together in an Edinburgh studio and having a bit of fun, writing songs influenced by krautock, electropop and all out balladry, drawing on their many influences and talents for the unexpected.

It was an album released two years after Billy’s tragic suicide, with Paul fulfilling his pal’s wish to polish things off and make the music available to fans. It was initially only available via mail order through on Paul’s Rhythm of Life label but in due course, after a period in which it had seemingly been deleted, it was given a full release, with four bonus remixes, by One Little Indian in 2004.

It is an ambitious piece of work, not always the easiest of listens which is no real surprise given the chaotic and carefree nature of the recording methodology but at the same time, Billy’s voice comes through as strong and bold as at any point in his career while Paul provides reminders of why so many have long thought of him as one of the most visionary and creative talents of the late 20th century.

I thought I’d feature two songs from it, giving both of them the opportunity to take the lead vocals.

mp3 : Haig/Mackenzie – Thunderstorm

Heavily influenced musically by the trip-hop sounds of the likes of Portishead/Tricky, this tune shows how beautiful Billy could sound when he stayed comfortably with his range.

mp3 : Haig/Mackenzie – Listen To Me

Poptastic stuff. Paul would later re-record this for his Relive album in 2009 but without the killer backing vocal. The track is credited solely to Paul and I do wonder if the lyric was his heartfelt plea to Billy to look after himself a bit better.

JC

7 thoughts on “SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #123 & #124 : HAIG/MACKENZIE

  1. I have both versions of this album – a vinyl release would be fantastic. As you say, when Billy kept within his (still large) range, he sounded wonderful. Maybe not having label constraints helped too.

  2. The songs from this session are essential for any Mackenzie or Haig collection. There is so much intent built into this work and that is what helps to make it required and wonderful listening.

  3. Really bugging me but the verse of Listen to me sounds awfully like a lou reed song but cant remember which one – maybe from Songs for Drella

  4. I became a MacKenzie fanatic ten years too late when I finally grabbed the “Popera” CD in 1990. I spent 7 years in the wilderness with only one new CD [“Outernational”] following “Popera” and the unusually tepid “Wild + Lonely” and Billy’s suicide in 1997 shocked and disappointed me, so naturally, I was on top of this one as soon as it happened. I was also active then on the Associates Yahoo mailing list and those were good times of camaraderie amongst us fans. Not long after this one dropped, the posthumous flood of MacKenzie reissues began. But to this day, the original UK LP mix of “Sulk” has never been released on CD.

  5. JC – I have two copies of my own I need to digitize, but thanks! I prefer not to swap files, though where MacKenzie is concerned, my resolve can crumble.

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