22 August 1981.
Simple Minds finally get a single into the Top 50 of the charts. A few more sales and a Top of the Pops appearance beckons. It’s an era of great electronica pop music with Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Visage and Ultravox all in the Top 40 while Kraftwerk had just that week dropped out. Sadly, for the band and the folk at the label, one of THE great singles of the era didn’t find enough favour with the record buying public and #47 was as good as it got:-
mp3 : Simple Minds – Love Song
I included this at #14 in my 45 45s at 45 rundown back in 2008 and it still remains one of my all-time favourite pieces of plastic. The subsequent album(s) released the following month would reveal the band had all sorts of strange and weird titles attached to a number of tracks, but here was something with a title as straightforward as it comes. It’s a pulsating, vibrant and highly energetic piece of electronica with crashing guitars, slightly less frantic than the earlier I Travel, but with a pace that fitted in perfectly with the uber-cool style crowd whose club nights, particularly in London, were centred around music that sounded futuristic. Incredible to look back and think, just four years after new-wave had bulldozed its way forward, that the death of guitar music was now being predicted.
The b-side, as with previous single The American, was another very interesting and enjoyable instrumental, highlighting that Mick MacNeil was now increasingly important to the still evolving sound of the band:-
mp3 : Simple Minds – This Earth That You Walk Upon
The hope had been that Love Song would be riding high in the charts when the new album, the band’s fourth in less than two years, was released. Did I say fourth album? As things turned out, the band’s fifth album ended up being issued on the same day as the fourth……
Sons and Fascination was released in September 1981. It consisted of eight tracks, including the 12” version of Love Song and to everyone’s surprise, a vocal version of This Earth That You Walk Upon. The initial copies of the album came with a free bonus LP entitled Sister Feelings Call, consisting of seven tracks and including the 7” version of The American. It was also revealed that Brian McGhee had quit the band at the conclusion of recording and that a temporary drummer would be brought in for the live shows to promote the new material. The packaging of the two albums for the price of one was a great selling point and helped it enter the Top 20 on release, where it stayed for three weeks, which was a fine achievement for a band without any hit singles to their name.
This time around, the tour included a show at the Glasgow Apollo and ended with a gig at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, a show that was recorded by Virgin records with an eye on a possible live album for future release.
In November 1981, while the band was coming to the end of an extensive tour of North America and about to head for the first time to Australia, a third single from the new albums was released:-
mp3 : Simple Minds – Sweat In Bullet
It was an excellent remix of one of the tracks on Sons and Fascination and its b-side was lifted, but not remixed, from Sister Feelings Call:-
mp3 : Simple Minds – 20th Century Promised Land
A quick PS to this post is that 1981 closed triumphantly for the band. I hadn’t got to the show at the Apollo, having just started university and taking stock of few things, but along with some old friends from school (all of whom were now working) and a couple of new student mates, we trooped along to Tiffany’s in Glasgow, at the very end of December, and were privileged enough to witness what we felt would be the band’s best ever show….little did we know what the following year would bring.