This is the song that I will most likely close the blog down with as and when that day eventually comes.

mp3: British Electrical Foundation, featuring Billy Mackenzie – It’s Over

It’s the closing track from the 1982 compilation Music of Quality and Distinction Volume One. The album was the work of British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.) who, in effect, were Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, the two blokes who had been booted out of The Human League but would go on to enjoy huge success with Heaven 17.

Penthouse and Pavement had been a hit album for their band in 1981 and their label Virgin Records afforded them the luxury of a vanity project that was recorded and released in 1982. The idea was to bring in a series of guest artists to perform cover versions in a style more akin to the new electric music of the 80s.  I’ve previously written extensively about the album, some four years ago. Click here for a refresh if you’re so inclined.

I know that Billy Mackenzie isn’t to everyone’s taste, (hi Jonny!!), but my love for him is well documented. His take on the Roy Orbison classic, which was a #1 hit in the UK in June 1964, is one of his finest vocal studio performances. B.E.F. threw the kitchen sink at it, with cellos, harps, violins, french horns, castanets and timpanis all high in the mix, not forgetting too that John Foxx strummed the acoustic guitar while Hank Marvin did his bit on the electric guitar, and Billy responded in the best possible way.

Roy Orbison himself went on record as saying he thought it was a majestic effort by all concerned.

Play this one loud…..and listen to it preferably through speakers rather than your laptop or mobile phone.



  1. You had me going for a second there, JC…! I’m glad you’ve not decided to stop just yet.

    Like many other tracks on the album, the Billy Mackenzie cover versions were my first exposure to the respective songs and so for me remain the definitive versions. What a shame that it was Tina Turner not Billy that found global superstardom (again) on the back of this album…

  2. Fantastic version by THE VOICE, there was something of a connection between Martin Ware (primarily, I think) and Billy which brought forward the best of Billy – all 3 tracks he did for the 2 first MoQaD albums are magnificent.
    On the Best of MoQaD at least released as a digital download there is an Orchestral Version as well – which keeps mostly all the stuff from the kitchen sink and Billy’s vocals. Stunning.

    Now, that was a good start of this Monday.

  3. B.E.F. was a breath of fresh air. I didn’t always enjoy what it promoted but I did respect them for wielding what little power they had with their label. I saw this LP around a lot in bargain bins at the time but never bought it.

    It is my intention to play this, as requested, later this afternoon so as not to disturb the neighbours.

    I thought it remarkable that B.E.F. could reignite the career of Tina Turner. The Tube performance was breathtaking.

  4. IMHO It’s Over and the other Billy cover, The Secret Life of Arabia, are the pinnacle of his output without Alan Rankine. As I wrote to, I think, Sounds magazine when they asked about the best male vocalists, those last “it’s over”‘s show everyone what his voice could do.

  5. “This is the song that I will most likely close the blog down with as and when that day eventually comes.”
    I thought that was going to be Electrolite….

  6. It was…….but then I played this again for the first time in years! At the moment, the title of the final post will be the final line of ‘Electrolite’, with Billy Mac taking us out.

    I do, of course, reserve, the right to change my mind as I begin to lose my mind…… 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. Billy’s finest moment is Kitchen Person IMHO of course. And that song has the entire (ahem) kitchen thrown at it along with the bathroom for good measure.

  8. I hadn’t realised the Big O had commented favourably on our Billy’s incredible vocal performance. Does anyone know if Bowie ever commented publicly on Billy ? I find it odd that I’ve never seen anything by him – he used to comment on lots of his “spawn”, usually encouragingly no matter how bad they actually were.

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