True Romantics

All the 45s from the sublime Scottish duo who briefly threatened to become part of the '80s pop circus

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Billy Mackenzie was never going to fit into the round hole of ’80s pop. With his beret and his whippets and a dimpled smile that hid his sadness and madness, Dundee’s finest fruitcake was just too odd and too buccaneeringly brilliant to compete with New Romantic frauds like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran.

Transported back to 1980 by the thrilling drive of “The Affectionate Punch”, it’s hard not to feel a burning indignation at the way this talent was so pitilessly sidelined by the Smash Hits generation. Even when the kids put the delicious “Party Fears Two” in the charts and on Top Of The Pops, they clearly didn’t see that they had a genius in their midst.

With darkly handsome multi-instrumentalist Alan Rankine making echoey soundscapes behind him, Billy Mac took the exultant Euro-funk of Bowie’s Low! “Heroes” period kicking and swishing into the indie ’80s. No wonder that the first single here is the locally released cover of “Boys Keep Swinging”.

Singles reflects the three distinct phases of the group’s life. First come those extraordinary early singles: futuristic, almost haughtily uncommercial, distant cousins of Scott Walker’s more outr


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The Velvet Underground, The Black Crowes, Bunny Wailer, Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Rhiannon Giddens, Laurie Anderson, Blake Mills, Postcard Records, Mogwai and The Selecter