The period after the final release on Crépuscule saw Paul Haig back in Scotland where he rekindled not only his friendship but his working relationship with Billy Mackenzie, the two of them getting together every now and again in Paul’s home studio to work on tracks that could, perhaps, one day see the light of day. Neither of the two geniuses had record deals at the time (which in itself is indicative of the sad state of the music industry) and for the most part, it was all about enjoying one another’s company.
Billy’s suicide in September 1997 was devastating to his family and friends, and even today, more than 20 years on, there’s a sense of disbelief about it. Paul was sitting on the music they had made, and in 1999 he took the decision to make available nine bits of music they had put down between December 1993 and July 1995 as the album Memory Palace, attributed to Haig/Mackenzie. It was released on ROL Records, newly revived by Paul for the purpose and the first on the label in 18 years.
A few lucky people had been able to hear one of the songs prior to Memory Palace, thanks to a very limited 7″ vinyl release in 1998.
Syntanic was a label based in Vienna which, from 1993 to 2001, released records, tapes and CDs, specialising in exceedingly limited editions.
100 individually copies of the song Listen To Me, backed by two tracks, Looking and Irresponsible, formed the release with the catalogue number nice49. Of these, 15 were even more exclusive with a signed card lyric insert.
It’s not something I have in my collection – there’s currently one for sale on Discogs just now from a German dealer who is looking for £50. I might treat myself at one point in the future…
I’m assuming that the version of the song is that which was released on Memory Palace the following year:-
Billy’s backing vocals make this a really moving and emotional listen, and it’s interesting to ponder if a more widely available release would have perhaps troubled the charts….but most likely not.
It’s a song that Paul that has returned to a couple of times. First of all, on his 2009 album Relive:-
mp3 : Paul Haig – Listen To Me
I can’t help but feel that Paul would have welled up a few times recording his fresh vocal, thinking back to the happy times he spent with his great friend.
And then, just last year, a different version was made available on the compilation, Goosebumps – 25 Years of Marina Records. It’s a much more gentle and sedate take, and it comes with a wonderfully imagined string section, arranged by Dave Scott of The Pearlfishers. And while it didn’t enjoy a release until 2018, the notes in the accompanying booklet date the recording back to 2005:-
Worth also mentioning that a track called Looking (the name of one of the b-sides of the Vienna release) was recorded for Paul’s album Cinematique 2, released on ROL in 2001. Again, I can’t be sure if it;s the same as the 1998 single, but here’s the 2001 version:-
mp3 : Paul Haig – Looking
I know this post has been a bit all over the place time wise, but I did want to make available all three versions of Listen To Me that I have in the collection.