AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #72 – SIMPLE MINDS

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Resurrecting the piece for the 45 45s re-run just two days ago provided the inspiration. Suffice to say that this ICA is restricted to the selections from the following albums:-

Life In A Day – released March 1979
Real To Real Cacophony – released November 1979
Empires and Dance – released September 1980
Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call – September 1981
New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84) – September 1982

I won’t include Love Song in the listing as it was featured just 48 hours ago. So without further delay…..but I will warn you that there’s a few singles featured today. They weren’t really for keeping their best material preserved for b-sides or just album tracks.

SIDE A

1. Theme For Great Cities (from Sister Feelings Call)

A curve-ball to start with, opening the ICA with an instrumental. I still recall hearing this for the first time and thinking it was as far removed as possible from the music anyone would ever associate with Glasgow. It’s an astonishing rich, textured, brilliantly structured piece of music which set me on the path to a better understanding and appreciation of electronic music.

2. Changeling (from Real to Real Cacophony)

Fans of PiL, Gang of Four, Wire and Magazine will surely appreciate this album version of a flop single from late 79. Jagged and edgy, it’s a fine fusion of the new wave guitars and the synth stuff that was beginning to take a grip of many an imagination and would lead to some of the best UK pop of the following decade.

3. Someone Somewhere In Summertime (from New Gold Dream)

This was the album that really broke the band. Its ten tracks contain three hit singles (two of which had charted before the LP hit the shops) and thus turned the band into a hot ticket almost overnight. This was the third of the 45s and the opening track of the album. Unlike the previous two tracks on the ICA, this one is very much of its time – it sounds like 1982 and has nothing to link it back to the band’s punk/new wave roots. It’s dreamy build up to the anthemic chorus was the first sign that the small and medium-sized halls would no longer be where you’d find the band ply its trade in future years.

4. Chelsea Girl (single version – originally from Life In A Day)

The band had, from the earliest of days, displayed a real ability to churn out a catchy pop tune, as evidenced by what was their second ever single. Every bit as anthemic as the later hits, it was let down by a bit of a stale and unimaginative production. But then again, everyone at the time was wondering how best to capture these new fangled sounds.

5. This Fear Of Gods (from Empires and Dance)

It was the band’s misfortune to be on Arista Records for this album as the label was unable to promote properly an album that was described on its release by Paul Morley as ‘authentic new torch music….an LP of terror-songs, vigilance and vanity‘. It was as dark and deep and wonderful as anything Joy Division were producing, but with a disco-beat….

SIDE B

1. I Travel (from Empires and Dance)

Also as wonderful as anything Joy Division were producing, but with Simple Minds around you had to take off your overcoat and get yourself on to that dance floor. It’s a song that has been re-produced and remixed on countless occasions, sometimes to great effect and often to its detriment. This is the original single version that really should have been a huge hit.

2. The American (from Sister Feelings Call)

As much as I love this song, I can’t help but wonder how it might have sounded if someone other than prog legend Steve Hillage had been in the producer’s chair. Someone with more new wave tendencies would have had altered the guitar and bass sounds to something more akin to John McGeough and Barry Adamson‘s work with Magazine and it would have come belting out of the speakers with a sense of menace rather than being perhaps a bit too polished.

3. Big Sleep (from New Gold Dream)

As mentioned earlier, this was the album that really broke the band. They had always been a cracking live act, but the commercial success seemed to bring out the best in them – I saw them three times in 1982 and Big Sleep was the track that got the hairs on the neck standing up, thanks to the combination of wonderfully understated guitar playing from Charlie Burchill, bass slapping with style from Derek Forbes and the catchy, repetitive keyboard contribution from Mick McNeill…..and to be fair to the much derided singing style of Jim Kerr, his delivery in this instance is first-rate.

4. Sweat In Bullet (12″ version – originally from Sons and Fascination)

Time to get yourself back on that dance floor again. Like every other act from the 80s, the singles were subjected to different mixes and extended versions for use on 12″ vinyl. This was one of the most effective but still failed to provide the breakthrough and crossover hit.

5. Premonition (Peel Session – original version on Real to Real Cacophony)

Designed to make you want to turn this imaginary piece of vinyl back over to Side A. Recorded in December 1979 and broadcast twice in January 1980. It was unimaginable back then that within five years they would be arena rock gods…..

mp3 : Simple Minds – Theme For Great Cities
mp3 : Simple Minds – Changeling
mp3 : Simple Minds – Someone Somewhere In Summertime
mp3 : Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl
mp3 : Simple Minds – This Fear Of Gods

mp3 : Simple Minds – I Travel
mp3 : Simple Minds – The American
mp3 : Simple Minds – Big Sleep
mp3 : Simple Minds – Sweat In Bullet
mp3 : Simple Minds – Premonition

Enjoy.

21 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #72 – SIMPLE MINDS

  1. Sigh. Simple Minds from ‘Somewhere….’ to ‘Belfast Child’ is less than ten years. One of the first bands that I truly cared about. Great stuff.

  2. Once you exaplained Love Song had been jettisoned, I wanted four songs to appear here – you nailed them all (I Travel, Fear of Gods, Great Cities and Premonition). Cracking stuff.

  3. If I could chuck a couple of ckeeky additions they’d be ‘Colours Fly & Catherine Wheel’ and ‘Sound In 70 Cities’. Otherwise, top notch choices. I still follow SM and they do pop out some good stuff but yup, these early albums were their pinnacle.

  4. The only Simple Minds that matter – after those first five albums (+ SFC) it was ‘stadium rock’ and the shapes that come with it.

  5. Theme For Great Cities is an absolute classic…

    Have a listen to Dreaming A City by the Manic Street Preachers – it’s the bastard son of TFGC for sure…

  6. No need for the apology. Sometimes reduced to that myself!!

    First I’ve heard that MSP track. It is somewhat similar in places isn’t it??

  7. Another great ICA. Simple Minds didn’t get a lot of attention here in the States until their Breakfast Club song (by which time they’d lost the plot), but they did tour a lot and I got to see them put on a GREAT show at the Ritz in NYC circa 1982 or so. Brilliant.

    Listening to ‘I Travel’, does anyone hear a similarity between Kerr’s vocal delivery and the way John Lydon was singing at the time? Never noticed that before — maybe because Kerr went on to develop his own signature croon?

  8. Solid selection JC!…Glad to see This Fear Of Gods and Premonition. There is something magical, dark and hypnotic about Theme For Great CIties. It isn’t easy for an instrumental to get stuck in you head the way a pop song can, but this is one that seems to do it all the time. I’ll be driving to work listening to it and it will stick with me the rest of the day.
    My ICA would have to come with a bonus disc to include 70 Cities as Love Brings The Fall, Boys From Brazil, Celebrate, Factory and 20th Century Promised Land.

  9. The Manics have long cited early Simple Minds as an influence. Note the backwards R in the way they stylise their name – a direct borrowing of the backwards N on the ‘Empires And Dance’ sleeve. In fact that’s a record Nicky Wire rates as one of his all time faves.

  10. up to and including New Gold Dream you could easily do 2 of these ICA’s without a filler track. i miss Factory and Room, but couldn’t tell which of the tracks to take out….

  11. The later Simple Minds period ruined the early stuff for me for a long time, in fact I only re-listened to those earlier albums again for the first time a couple of years ago and they stand up very well indeed. This is a very fine compilation JC.

  12. Thanks, JC. I know posting these songs can be a risk. I do like Sparkle in the Rain, probably better than Life in a Day, actually, but I would include Chelsea Girl too. So happy to see my favorite, Sweat in Bullet.

  13. This imaginary album thing is harder than it seems. I woul open side one with I Travel and open side 2 with Theme for Great Cities. I would have nothing off Life in a Day, only Premonition off Reel to Real and make the rest of the album an amalgam of Empires and Dance and Sons and Fascination (one concept, two albums, 2 and a half actually). It would include This Fear of Gods and Capital City, Celebrate, Love Song, Sweat in Bullet, This Earth That You Walk Upon and Seeing Out The Angel. How many’s that? Oh, ten. I’m rubbish at this. Love this music, this band, at this time, though. They really were dynamite.

  14. Ditto. A lot of their stuff between Empires & Sparkle still gives me the shivers. As to the point about the backwards ‘R’, I remember around the time that the Manics released ‘The Holy Bible’ the band were handing out copies of ‘Empire & Dance’ to journos and you can see the connection in the artwork – the design for the single of ‘Faster’ looks like a continuation from the ‘Sons & Sisters’ era.

  15. Great ICA, from Empires till Catwalk they were the best band.
    Wanted to reply before on Lovesong, didn’t, so now here: There is a fabulous live recording from This Fear of Gods (1981.Dec, Tiffany’s, Glasgow) and as a bonustrack to this ICA the session version King is White and in the Crowd (b-side of SSiS 12″) could be used!

  16. I’d have been at that Tiffany’s gig. It was a cracking venue. But then again, its demise indirectly led to the Barrowlands being brought into use for live gigs…much of which was down to Simple Minds.

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