Record Review: 39 Lyon Street – Kites

RSO Records | UK | 12" | 1981 | RSOX 78

RSO Records | UK | 12″ | 1981 | RSOX 78

39 Lyon Street: Kites UK 12″ [1981]

  1. 39 Lyon Street: Kites [12″ ver.]
  2. Asssociates: A Girl Named Property

This one-off single from 39 Lyon Street saw Associates, having signed a contract with WEA following their stint with Fiction Records, explore every avenue that their contract afforded them to generate income. Not only were they licensing their newest recordings to Situation Two which resulted in them being compiled into the “Fourth Drawer Down” album of 1981, but they took advantage of a clause that allowed them to record for any label as long as the A-side was not credited to Associates.

39 lyon streetSo without further ado, singer Billy MacKenzie and instrumentalist Alan Rankine enlisted Billy’s friend Christine Beveridge to become lead vocalist for this cover of the Simon Dupree And The Big Sound’s late 60s UK psych-pop hit. The three Shulman brothers who were in fact “Simon Dupree” and his “big sound” would go on to become Gentle Giant in the 70s, strangely enough. 39 Lyon Street’s name came from the address that Billy shared with Christine MacKenzie in the late 70s as students. MacKenzie relegated his heaven sent pipes to backing vocals on the A-side. The B-side remained an Associates track in name and sound as Ms. Beveridge [center] was not needed.  I’ve never heard the obscure in the USA original song, so I can only approach this song as an artifact unto itself.

The 12″ version of “Kites” differs from the 7″ by an extra 59 seconds edited from the seven inch version. The record maintains the claustrophobic sound typical to their work at the time for Situation Two, albeit with a pop sheen clearly missing from the other records. Ms. Beveridge’s vocals are demure and sit within the music bed without drawing too much attention to themselves. Her vocal approach is not a million miles away from that of Virginia Astley, though the music bed is far from Ms. Astley’s brand of pastoral chamber music!

associates - breakfastUK12AThe B-side was a re-recording of Associates debut single B-side, previously known as “Mona Property Girl.” The intervening two years and the rapid artistic growth of Associates marks this as the more robust version. Similarly, four years later, MacKenzie revisited “Kites,” and he cut a new version for the B-side of Associates “Breakfast” 12″ single. The pacing of the arrangement is much faster and MacKenzie’s vocal attacks the song with unfettered fury. To my ears, this became the definitive version, according the 39 Lyon Street recording curio status. It’s almost like an Associates record from a strange, parallel universe. Which it was!

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2 Responses to Record Review: 39 Lyon Street – Kites

  1. chas_m says:

    “Two thirds of Simon Dupree would go on to become Gentle Giant in the 70s, strangely enough” — which thirds — the bottom thirds or the top thirds? :)

    (when I die I want two thirds of me to join a pop band as well! Great idea, Simon!)


    • postpunkmonk says:

      chas_m – It was actually the Shulman brothers, Mr. Wisenheimer! Ray Shulman also went onto found One Little Indian Records, giving him an enviable rock/pop hat trick to his credit! And I was in error in any case. Ray, Derek and Phil Shulman all were present in Gentle Giant. Whom you had a record by, if memory serves. I never heard them, myself.


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