KID SHIRT

Friday, April 22, 2005

ICE CREAM FACTORY

More ice-cream theme'd flavas following on from yesterdays' post:



Billy Mackenzie followed his 1982 split from fellow Associate Alan Rankine with a solo single credited to MACKENZIE sings ORBIDOIG. It strikes me that "Ice Cream Factory" has been unfairly tippex'd out of the history-books; here, a brave (but ultimately futile) attempt was made to recapture Rankin's peculiar strain of production madness with a flanged drum-intro and a hatful of ever-so-slightly-detuned guitar-lines: some chiming and some going chik-chik-a-chakka like little chisels against the bright wooden (pine) grain of the melody-line. Although it lacks the compression and density, the alien darkness of Rankine's best work, the result is still Poptastic: imagine Josef-K attempting a new coked-up form of Early Eighties Afrobeat.

The recording sounds like it's been mixed-down on helium: the instrumentation feels stretched and a little shrill, as if it's been pitched-up slightly. There's a mildly hysterical element to Mackenzies' vocal; nothing new there, but, this time, we don't quite believe him when he sings: "I'd love a job in that wonderful ice-cream factory/mixing chocolata goodies and the rippling raspberry..." There's a sense that someone is standing, off-camera, with a gun to his head: someone from the ice-cream factory...

It genuinely astonishes me that this wasn't a major hit at the time. It seems so right for 1983.

(Flash-Fact: The track was actually written by guitarist Steve Reid from Orbidoig, who went onto co-form The Associates Mark 2 with Mackenzie.)

It is odd, listening to Mackenzie singing this song twenty years later...you get a sense that he came close (with and without Rankine) to creating an Eighties form of Glam (a sort of Anti-New Rom) that could have filled the vacuum created by Bowie's absence as a creative force...but, ironically, Mackenzie (along with other Post-Postcard 'progressives' like Paul Haig, The Fire Engines' Davy Henderson, etc) were the inadvertent progenitors of the C86 micro-boom which ultimately made them all redundant by declaring its own shambling Sub/Post-Punk Year-Zero.

A shame...but, then again, Mackenzies' career (and life), in retrospect, seems now to have been a litany of lost opportunities.