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Goodbye Mr MacKenzie – Photo Credit: Andrew Barr
When per capita is taken into consideration, likely Scotland has got to be one of the biggest producers of cool music. So much goodness has emerged from this country that we only need to mention such names as Simple Minds, Big Country, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins, Trash Can Sinatras, Teenage Fanclub, Mogwai, Travis, Belle and Sebastian, Runrig, The Water Boys, Primal Scream, Deacon Blue, Sheena Easton, Bay City Rollers, or The Twilight Sad in order for you to believe us.
So it’s not surprising that today we turn our attention to yet another band that is a gem in the musical treasure chest that is Caledonia. Perhaps more recently known as the band where Garbage’s Shirley Manson first became a recording artist and got her first taste of the music industry, in Scotland itself, Goodbye Mr MacKenzie is considered one of the country’s most iconic acts.
The collective is gearing up to issue an extended and remastered edition of their 1989 album Good Deeds and Dirty Rags. At that time, the band consisted of Martin Metcalfe on vocals, John Duncan on guitar, Fin Wilson on bass guitar, Shirley Manson and Rona Scobie on keyboards and backing vocals, and Derek Kelly on drums.
Inspired by the massive success of their 30-year anniversary tour, they’ve decided to mark this occasion on vinyl and CD … After all, this is the album that started the musical ball rolling. The CD version will include 3 additional tracks from those early years, not previously included on the original edition.
Ahead of that, they will be releasing the first single ‘The Rattler’, digitally, reminding us how clever, upbeat, and catchy their music is, capturing the spirit of that era and ultimately reflecting a high point for this tasteful and inimitable band. The Big Takeover is extremely pleased to host the premiere of this extended and remastered version today.
“This re-issue of Good Deeds was as big a surprise to us as anyone. A quick decision to reform in January and it’s been a fairground ride touring ever since. Getting the rights to re-issue was protracted but now that it’s here we are really pleased. At gigs the fans have been bringing the house down, singing along with every word,” says Martin Metcalfe.
“Thirty years Is half a lifetime ago but we feel lyrically it’s still relevant. Two songs ‘Good Deeds’ and ‘Goodwill City’ end with rants based on the received (false) knowledge of the era and seem relevant with the current ‘fake news’ obsession. Other songs look at the then rise off the Christian right in the USA and how the media pay their bills by exploiting tragedy. All this stuff is still happening now. We live in scary times and the LP’s apocalyptic landscape seems to reflect that.”
Good Deeds and Dirty Rags was Goodbye Mr MacKenzie’s first album, released in 1989. It entered the UK charts at No.16 and the band quickly attracted a large, loyal support north of the border. Incredible live shows and singles like the top 40 hit ‘“he Rattler”, in particular, further cemented a fond place in many hearts.
A colorful and varied career followed, involving releases of two more albums through major labels, further UK singles chart positions, working and recording with members of Talking Heads, and touring and playing with bands like Blondie, The Ramones, B.A.D., Afghan Whigs, Aztec Camera, and the late great Vic Chesnutt, among others.
As The List noted in their 50 Greatest Scottish Bands feature, “The MacKenzies left behind the most complex and fascinating footprint of any Scottish band. Live they were stunning. Lead singer Martin Metcalfe looked like the MC of a particularly debauched cabaret troupe. While their Scottish counterparts were looking at soul and Steely Dan for inspiration the MacKenzies were taking theirs from the Pixies and the Birthday Party.”
Formed in Bathgate, near Edinburgh, Goodbye Mr MacKenzie came to prominence in the late 1980s after being signed to Capitol Records on the strength of their first two independent label singles. Never standing still, they released six albums in total before morphing into Angelfish in the US with the line-up of Manson, Metcalfe, Wilson and Kelly, with Manson taking over lead vocals. They continued to recorded music at that time.
Goodbye Mr Mackenzie played their final live show at the end of 1995 and Shirley Manson went on to enjoy huge success with Garbage, while Martin Metcalfe, Derek Kelly, and Fin Wilson returned to Scotland to form Isa and The Filthy Tongues. It is now just The Filthy Tongues, a trio that still thrives today.
Good Deeds and Dirty Rags will be released via Neon Tetra / Blokshok Records on November 1. While some of the tracks off the original release are streamable on Spotify, the new extended and remastered version is available exclusively from the band’s store HERE
After a series of recent sold-out shows, Goodbye Mr MacKenzie will be playing more gigs later this year in Scotland and England. Until then, The Filthy Tongues will also be play a handful of shows in September. More info on both bands’ gigs can be found HERE
01 Open Your Arms
02 Wake It Up
03 His Masters Voice
04 Goodwill City
05 Candlestick Park
06 Goodbye Mr Mackenzie
07 The Rattler
09 You Generous Thing
10 Good Deeds
11 Open Your Arms (1987 Demo) – bonus track
12 Diamonds (1987 Demo) – bonus track
13 You Generous Thing (1987 Demo) – bonus track
Sept 12 Aberdeen, Scotland – The Tunnels (as The Filthy Tongues)
Sept 13 Edinburgh, Scotland – The Voodoo Rooms (as The Filthy Tongues)
Sept 15 Dundee, Scotland – Church (as The Filthy Tongues)
Sept 19 Dunfermline, Scotland – PJ Malloys (as The Filthy Tongues)
Sept 20 Glasgow, Scotland – Oran Mor (as The Filthy Tongues)
Nov. 02 Middlesbrough, Scotland – Westgarth
Nov. 08 London – Dingwalls (with The Cesarians, Seil Lein)
Nov. 09 Corby, Northamptonshire – The Raven
Dec. 20 Glasgow, Scotland – Barrowlands SOLD OUT
Watch the original video of this track:
Two separate alternative versions were also created in support of their single, the first for The Tube, a popular UK television show of the time, and one filmed for The Chart Show:
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