The Associates

Double Hipness

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Here's what should be called "Bottom Drawer Down," a double-disc compilation of Associates outtakes and extras that runs dangerously close to diluting the greatness of Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine's partnership. The demos from the duo's early pre-Associates days (as Mental Torture) are intriguing at best. With a number of outside contributors, hardly anything remotely resembles the sound found on The Affectionate Punch or the following singles for Situation Two, let alone the Euro-sleek of Sulk. Demos recorded after the switch to Associates offer obvious improvements, only providing hints of what was about to bubble to the surface. The second disc contains Sulk and Perhaps embryonics, again only appealing to those who care to hear demos. An aborted 1993 reunion is documented as well on the second disc. Demonstrating quite handily that it was a wise move to not carry on with the rebirth, only "Stephen, You're Really Something" is worthy of note for its belated response to the Smiths' "William, It Was Really Nothing." Aside from the inclusion of the band's first single (a cover of Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging"), Double Hipness is the most awkward of archival releases in that it's the equivalent of a life scrapbook documenting only the stages of mid-adolescence and old age.

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