Few of our readers will be unfamiliar with the soaring tenor of Mr. Billy Mackenzie and his Associates, although they are perhaps not the first outfit one would associate (fnarr, fnarr) with a reggae crossover. And yet on their debut LP The Affectionate Punch, nestled among the sort of serene dream pop that might inspire a reflective gaze at a glass coffee table, there lies a number that casts a nod in that very direction – the sultry and brilliant Amused as Always.
Though very much within the realms of The Associates’ sharp Josef K-esque early sound, the irresistible skank stab and dubby echoplex guitar of Amused makes it a terrific example of post-punks harnessing reggae elements to create a style all their own.
Soon after it was recorded, a major label deal prompted a pomping up of sound and levels of comical excess–from chocolate guitars from Harrods to a private hotel room for Mackenzie’s whippets—which caused the band to semi-implode amidst a haze of cocaine in 1982. (Though Billy soldiered on minus right hand man Alan Rankine, The Associates would never be commercially successful again – a factor which almost certainly contributed to Mackenzie’s tragic suicide in 1997.)
Perhaps inevitably, the boys dabbled no further with the skankier side of things after the drastic switch in sound and lifestyle that followed The Affectionate Punch, though for our humble purposes, even just that once was enough.
And for a jazzy skank, also from Punch: