This was a last minute change of mind.
I’d already written postings for the next two Sundays but the fact that Johnny & The Self Abusers came up in the rotation yesterday for the Scottish song led me to go off at a tangent and instead put the spotlight on Simple Minds. But with the caveat that the singles will only cover the period 1979-1984 and that it will be the 7” versions featured as there has been a look previously at the 12” singles from the band.
As mentioned yesterday, J&TSA broke up on the day their only single was released. Four of its members – Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee and Tony Donald – decided they would keep things going as Simple Minds. Things were a bit shambolic over the next year with a number of personnel and responsibility changes.
First up, Duncan Barnswell joined as second guitarist and then Jim Kerr decided he would rather just be the singer. This led to Mick MacNeil being brought in to play the keyboards but around the same time, Tony Donald decided he no longer wanted to be involved and so Derek Forbes came in on bass. The six-strong group recorded demos and began playing gigs in the hope of attracting attention from someone in the industry.
Bruce Findlay, the owner of a small chain of record shops in Scotland, decided to take a punt on the band, becoming their manager and suggesting they sign to his own Zoom Records, which at this point in time had issued only four singles. The next change was that Duncan Barnswell left the group after less than a year, seemingly at the request of the others. The quintet of Burchill, Forbes, Kerr, MacNeil and McGee became what is now regarded as the first serious attempt at the big time.
There was enough of a buzz about the group for Arista Records, an American-owned major label, to sign Simple Minds under license while issuing the debut material on Zoom.
The debut album was recorded over a two-month period at the end of 1978 and the beginning of 1979, with up-and-coming producer John Leckie assigned to production duties. This was something of a coup for Findlay and the band as Leckie was being given great plaudits for his work with Magazine and XTC, bands that were critically acclaimed but, as yet, not quite there with a commercial breakthrough.
It turned out to be a similar story for Simple Minds, with the debut single only reaching #62 in May 1979
mp3 : Simple Minds – Life In A Day
mp3 : Simple Minds – Special View
Some folk at the record label felt that the very minimalist cover art hadn’t helped things, and so a bit of effort went into the sleeve of the follow-up, a song that was probably given the warmest reception by fans at the live shows. The new single was released in June 1979 , to coincide with the band’s first UK headlining tour. The label also arranged to shoot what was, for the time, a hi-tech and expensive promo in the hope of promoting the band as being at the cutting edge of the music scene. There was a further attempt to appeal to fans by making the b-side a brand new song, not available on the album, demonstrating how much the band had progressed over the past six months.
mp3 : Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl
mp3 : Simple Minds – Garden of Hate
To the shock and horror of all concerned, Chelsea Girl was a monumental flop, not getting much airplay and failing to crack the Top 75.
It was back to the drawing board.