Saturday, 3 November 2007

Bourgie Bourgie "Apres Ski" (MCA 12" B-side, 1984)

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There are certain voices that sum up the 1980's for me: Billy MacKenzie, Martin Fry, Pete Wylie, Green, Morrissey (and many more) ...but one of the names on my list never seems to make it onto anyone elses- Paul Quinn.

Paul, to me, has a voice which is the Yang to Billy Mackenzie's Yin. Whilst MacKenzie was sometimes histrionic and over-wraught, lapsing into a pleading falsetto; Quinn's voice is an altogether different beast. His voice is deeper, more Rock'n'Roll, occasionally emerging as a low, bluesy howl. Yet both voices have that power, that range of expression, that spread of emotion that few others matched. Oddly, i've always felt Billy's voice, despite its falsetto swoops, was more masculine, whilst Paul Quinn, with that lascivious low drawl, had more of a feminine quality to his voice. I'm guessing that the paradoxes within each persons vocal style are the hooks that keep us all interested, keep us in thrall to these sounds.....

Whilst Billy Mackenzie is more readily accepted as an iconic performer, Paul Quinn seems to command less attention, which is a pity. I suppose this is partly due to a lesser commercial profile, but also to a sense that here was a performer who was slightly rootless: his disparate output encompasses work with The Jazzateers, duets with Edwyn Collins and Vince Clarke, as well as this short-lived outfit, Bourgie Bourgie. He never really seemed to find a home, somewhere to ground his art. If he had, I suspect things might have been different.

But enough musing, let's think about THAT voice. If you've never heard his version of The Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes", you've never heard the definitive version of the song. For an artist to eclipse someone like Lou Reed is pretty rare, but Paul Quinn manages it effortlessly. His low mournful voice, dripping with regret and pain, just nails it. Remind me to post it at some point in the future.....

But today's slice of Quinn genius is this B-side from the debut Bourgie Bougie single. The A-side ("Breaking Point") has its admirers, but for me it's always been about the B-side. "Apres Ski" kicks off with a truly memorable little riff, before wandering off into an extended bluesy jam. It sounds as though the second half of the song was extemporised in the studio; such is the sense of joy and release as the band just, sort of, mess about for the last four minutes. The feeling of a band right on the edge of it's creative powers is what makes me love this song so much. It even ends apologetically, the drummer still trying to keep the song going just that little bit longer... To appreciate the song fully, you had to have the 12" version, which feature the full version: the 7" single had both it's A and B sides cruelly truncated. For those of you who are curious about the A-side, here's some youtube action:

And here's "Apres Ski" in all it's seven and a half minutes of glory. Enjoy.

Bourgie Bourgie "Apres Ski" (Extended Version) (mp3)


Ctelblog said...

Criminally overlooked band. Whatever happened to their album? Agree on Paul Quinn's voice. If you like Bourgie Bourgie and Paul Quinn you should look at Vinyl Villain's blog.

Mick said...

I've got this on 7". Breaking Point is one of my favourite 'lost' 80's songs but i have to admit i can't remember Apres Ski, so I look forward to hearing this.

Any chance you could post the the extended Breaking Point? or even email it ;)

Ed said...

Agree with all of you. I actually first heard Bourgie Bourgie over at Vinyl villain. Have an mp3 of Breaking point (but suspect it is the 7" as it's four monutes long). Thanks for this!


Anonymous said...

Saw Bourgie Bourgie on a few occasions whilst a student in Newcastle both supporting and headlining in their own right. Got the original 12" recordings of Careless and Breaking point but no means of making them digital. All excellent songs - anybody got the digitised versions of Careless and/or Breaking Point?? Much missed although there star was hardly given a chance to shine....

Iain Baker said...

Mick, Richie, i'll have to get round to posting the 12" of "Breaking Point" at some point in the future :)))

So It Goes said...

Wow!!! I particularly like the way it threatens to break down and crash and burn..just great.

Mick said...

Thanks Iain. And Richie, I've got Careless and Breaking Point on 7". If your interested email me via my blog.

Unknown said...

Hi everyone.

Picked up this thread after coming in to check out the previous posting re The Swans.

Anyone interetsed can now find the 12" and demo versions of 'Breaking Point' over at

It's always great to find more and more fans of the best crooner to ever come out of Glasgow.

Iain Baker said...

Cheers JC, have linked TVV as well :)
Demo versions of Bourgie Bourgie stuff! Now, i'm impressed!
Seriously, though...what a great voice: are the rumours of his ill-health sadly true?

Duncan said...

Yes a criminally over looked band. I've got the Breaking Point 7" which when last played jumped a lot, so thanks for the post. Can't understand why no one has mentioned the Paul Quinn and the Independent Group's LPs "Phantoms And The Archetypes", and "Will I ever be Inside You" Had a cracking version of The Carpenters Superstar.

Unknown said...

I'm afraid to say that the rumours of Paul's ill-health are all too true.

He's been struck down by a particularly nasty form of MS and is rarely seen in public nowadays. I understand that Alan Horne more or less cares for him om a full-time basis now.

Very sad that both he and Edwyn Collins have had their careers and talents so horribly blighted by illness.

Anonymous said...

As well as the Bourgie Bourgie singles and the two Independent Group albums there are the two singles with Edwin Collins on Swamplands and one single with Vince Clarke .Also if you pick up the re-issued Jazzeteers album you can hear him sharing lead vocals with Graham Skinner (ex Hipsway).He also contributes backing vocals to a few songs on Orange Juice's second album.
To be perfectly honest, in the 80's I thought he was the best singer ever to come out of Scotland.
My opinion hasn't changed since !

Fruitier Than Thou said...

Really, really sad to hear that PAUL QUINN has been suffering ill health. I was always a fan of his version of “Pale Blue Eyes” with EDWYN, also liked THE INDEPENDENT GROUP group. I saw BOURGIE BOURGIE play a number of times .. I think I preferred THE JAZZATEERS….If only for the track “(Time) Pressing On”… My that guitar!!! I’m sure they had the same guitarist.

Out of interest have you heard the song of the same name, “Apr├Ęs Ski” on the b-side of MEMPHIS single “'You Supply the Roses' that came out on Alan Horne's Swamplands label a little after this single? It is ridiculously poppy!!

Anonymous said...

I think the two Independent Group albums were two of the best recordings of the 90's.
Very sad to hear of Paul Quinn's ill health; beautiful beautiful voice. Very good songriter too.
I wonder if any of the supposedly part recorded third Independent Group album will ever be released?

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Huge Grunt said...

Paul Quinn has a superb voice, his cover of Pale Blue Eyes with Edwyn Collins is one of the best covers ever done....fact :)

Cat said...

Love this song - alltime favourite of mine - don't seem to be able to download it tho :(

Cat said...

lol should of said Hi & Breaking Point is the song I was talking about! but loved Apres Ski too :)