There’s not many things that would have had me change the plan to have the blog take an extended holiday over the festive period.  The unexpected death of Alan Rankine, at the age of 64, is something that I just cannot let go unpassed without comment.

I’m typing these words 24 hours after hearing the news, and I still can’t quite come to terms with it.  I’ve tried a couple of times to put a piece together, which would go beyond the work he did with the Associates including with Paul Haig and the Cocteau Twins, as well as his time as a lecturer at Stow College in Glasgow where he did so much to launch the careers of a number of bands, not least Belle and Sebastian. 

The right words, however, just wouldn’t come, but just as I was about to give up, an e-mail arrived from flimflamfan.  I think he’s captured it perfectly.

“In recent weeks there have been significant deaths for me (for many) in the world of music.  Each of them a shock but nothing to what was announced yesterday: Alan Rankine, The Associates, dead.   

“Prepubescent me has experienced his fair share of musician deaths: Elvis – I was caught up in everyone’s else’s grief but I was sad, Marc Bolan – he and Bowie ignited a flame in this young pup – still his death was not felt as keenly as I had thought.  I won’t go through a list of postpubescent significant others (it’s a long list), suffice to say an ache hung over yesterday, as if a close friend or family member had died.  Normally, I would attempt to work through my feelings by going through the body of work that was left behind.  It didn’t work.  That only raised remembrances of Billy which made my entire situation considerably worse.  I think this ache is going to take a while to dull. 

“Despite both Alan and Billy going onto involve themselves in many other projects it will always be The Associates, phase one and the two glorious studio albums and accompanying compilation album that cemented the band’s musical genius in my mind.  Genius is a term that is often banded about but I challenge anyone to find another band or artist who sounded like The Associates then and who sound like The Associates now. 

“The song that brought the band to my attention was the cover of Bowie’s Boys Keep Swinging. I was a Bowie fan.  This was heresy. I listened only to confirm my absolute hatred for it.  That did not occur.  I loved it.  Just loved it.  The audacity to release the single, unapproved, just weeks after Bowie is… here’s that word, again… genius.  Maximum exposure for a band with one release so far – which included the wonderful Mona Property Girl – not bad, eh?  The next song that I was to hear just floored me.  The Affectionate Punch was/is, will always be, a thing of beauty.  I couldn’t afford the single so had to wait till I could find a second-hand copy of the LP. I did. I still have it. It’s been played within an inch of its life.  There are many that are more adept to work through the technical aspects of what the band were doing.  I had no idea then and I’m no further forward now.  My own, possibly inadequate description, would be Primal Pop.  When I first heard the, at times, cacophonous Transport to Central (1st release, on The Affectionate Punch) it moved me to tears.  It still has that power all these years later.  It remains my favourite song by the band and is a thing of joy.

“The Affectionate Punch LP grabbed life by the throat and screamed ‘fuck you’.  Sulk, on the other hand, is a more polished affair than its predecessor. Sulk gently removed one or two fingers from life’s throat but stared it firmly in the eye and gently whispered ‘define us if you dare, you bastard’. Packaged with the sublime compilation, Fourth Drawer Down, The Associates crammed a delicious sense of breadth, scope and bonkersness and peppered it all with angular post-punk guitars and joyful pop sensibilities into those initial three LPs.  To say nothing of Alan’s work on Peppermint Pig, or later, his inspirational work at Stow. 

“I wish I was at home so that I could connect with my vinyl.  Instead, it’ll be digital. There’ll be less of a connection but no less majesty. 

“You are Alan Rankine.  You and Billy Mackenzie are The Associates.  Together you helped define a post-punk generation and continue to do so. 

“Alan. Enjoy your next adventures.  Say hello to Billy.  Thank you! “


Here’s some tunes:-

mp3: Associates – Boys Keep Swinging
mp3: Associates – Transport to Central
mp3: Cocteau Twins – Peppermint Pig (12″ version)
mp3: Paul Haig – Big Blue World (12″ version)

The blog is now back and open for business as normal.  But rest assured, the remainder of the Nutley Brass tunes will still be coming your way as bonus postings each and every afternoon.




Alan Rankine is best known as being the other founder member of Associates.

He quit the band in 1982 just after Sulk and its associated singles had finally brought fame and chart success quickly moving into the production side of things before, in 1986, releasing material under his own name.

None of his solo material – there were a couple of albums and a handful of singles  – made any commercial impact and by 1990 he had quit the recording side of things to move into an entirely new direction, joining Stow College in Glasgow as a lecturer on a music business course, where he was instrumental in providing a very firm launchpad for the career of Belle & Sebastian.

His debut single in September 1986 was later re-recorded and released on Virgin in November 1987:-

mp3 : Alan Rankine – Sandman

It is a radio friendly bit of music in that MOR-80s-synth-pop sort of way.  Which can also be translated as dull, boring and easily disposed of.

The b-side is a bit more interesting in a film-soundtrack sort of way that is a cross between Paul Haig and David Holmes:-

mp3 : Alan Rankine – Can You Believe Everything I See (Part 3)

It stretches out to six minutes and is the sort of thing that if you were sitting in a bar and it came on in the background you’d be very tempted to ask who and what it was.




Back on 8 October 2011, I started a series called ‘Saturday’s Scottish Single’.  The aim was to feature one 45 or CD single by a Scottish singer or band with the proviso that the 45 or CD single was in the collection. I had got to Part 60-something and as far as Kid Canaveral when the rug was pulled out from under TVV.

I’ll catch up soon enough by featuring 5 at a time from the archives..


(1) Aberfeldy : Vegetarian Restaurant b/w What You Do : Rough Trade 7″ (2003)

Read more about Aberfeldy here


(2) Aerogramme – Barriers b/w Dissolve : Chemikal Underground 7″ (2007)

Read more about Aerogramme here


(3) Aidan Moffat and The Best-Ofs – Knock On The Wall Of Your Womb b/w Aidan Moffat – The Lavender Blue Dress : Chemikal Underground 7″ (2009)

The single is a complete re-working of Lullaby For Unborn Child from the How To Get To Heaven From Scotland album and features the Mansionhouse Ensemble (which is basically Alun Woodward aka Lord Cut Glass and ex-member of The Delgados).

The cover of this limited 7″ (500 copies all told) features an image courtesy of Leonardo Da Vinci while the back of the sleeve has a photo of Aidan in shock on the floor of the delivery room during the birth of his son.

The B-Side is again a bit different – a childrens’ story.


(4) Alan Rankine – The World Begins To Look Her Age b/w Can You Believe Everything I See? : Virgin 7″ (1987)

Read more about Alan Rankine here


(5) Aloha Hawaii – Towns On The Moon b/w I’ve Been Bad For Years and Years b/w Untitled Third Track : Chemikal Underground 10″ (2008)

This is what the record label said upon its release:-

The brainchild of our very own Aidan Moffat and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, Aloha Hawaii will, according to the two protagonists themselves, be bringing you random releases of sonic experimentalism as and when they can be arsed. I’ll leave it to their self-penned press release to explain exactly where they’re coming from with this…

Aloha Hawaii is the result of at least a decade of (often drunken) planning that has finally come to some form of fruition: to record any kind of sounds that please our four ears whenever we have the time, inspiration and enthusiasm. There is no game-plan, no style, no genre; anything that makes us smile will make it onto our records, which will take the form of sporadic, vinyl-only singles to be released on any record label willing to accommodate us over the next year or two. The first label to support our efforts will be our good friends, Chemikal Underground, who release the 10″ single Towns On The Moon b/w I’ve Been Bad For Years And Years on September 8th 2008.

There will be no digital formats whatsoever.
This could be a statement about the cheapening of an art-form in a world of disposable download culture or it could simply mean that we’re interminably old-fashioned and hopelessly out of date. We also reserve the right to change our minds.

These five are a bit of a mixed bag and are meant to reflect the series’ aim to have lesser known stuff posted.  I will say however, that if you’re not familiar with it, I recommend you give the Aereogramme single a listen as it’s an absolute belter.