THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Part 10)

10 April 1982 and a new single by Simple Minds is released.

1 May 1982 and Simple Minds finally have the euphoria that comes with a single hitting the Top 20 in the UK.

mp3 : Simple Minds – Promised You A Miracle

It was the fourth successive week the single had climbed the charts, something it would do for a further two weeks, peaking at #13. It would hang around the lower parts of the charts for a while longer, finally taking its leave in mid-June.

It was really strange seeing the band achieve such high-profile success after five studio albums, one compilation LP and two record labels. It’s a single that didn’t quite gel with me at the outset. It seemed really light and sparse sounding, very much lacking the bite and energy of many of the previous singles but it was one that I came to appreciate after hearing it in the live setting and how it was actually all part of yet a further shift in sound with more reliance on the keyboard skills of Mick MacNeil and the thumping bass lines from Derek Forbes. It was more pop-orientated than ever and of appeal to fans of bands such as ABC, Associates and Yazoo, all of whom would enjoy stellar years in 1982 – it was also similar to the latest Roxy Music album, Avalon, which itself was a million miles removed from the art-house and experimental stuff from the 70s that had been such an influence on early Simple Minds.

A new producer, Pete Walsh, was also at the helm, the job his reward for the impressive remix work he had done on Sweat in Bullet. What very few knew at the time was that Walsh was a total rookie, just 21 years of age, but considered by the band, and indeed the label bosses, to be something of a genius in terms of eking out all sorts of new and fresh sounds from the advances in production technology.

As had happened the previous year with The American, the band rush-released Promised You A Miracle, it being the among the first of the completed songs from the studio sessions in London. There wasn’t really any new material well-developed enough to appear as a b-side and so the decision was taken to use an instrumental track from Sister Feelings Call.

mp3 : Simple Minds – Theme For Great Cities

It’s one of the bands finest bits of music in their entire career, capturing the moment when they stood on the very threshold of fame and fortune. I’m guessing that many of those who weren’t familiar with the band until this 45 would have had their minds blown by the b-side and gone exploring the back catalogue, much of which was available at reasonably cheap prices.

The big question, however, was whether time would show Simple Minds to be just a one-hit wonder. We didn’t have too long to wait to find out.

JC

7 thoughts on “THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Part 10)

  1. Beginning of the end for me. This is when Simple Minds dropped their arty side and began to sound like all their contemporaries. Still like to hear Forbes doing his thing, tho.

  2. When commenting on the very noticeable shift in sound and approach with this release, it is important to acknowledge that the pop landscape of 1982 was a considerably different place from the previous couple of years. Harsher, more challenging industrial sounding and futuristic sounds had given way to a shiny new paradigm, as best exemplified at it’s pinnacle by ABC and others and named by Paul Morley as New Pop. Simple Minds weren’t alone in coming in from the left field at this time, many of their contemporaries had already done so to great commercial effect. It was seen as the thing to do at the time.The New Pop dream was that the independents could take their place in and even dominate the mainstream.

    Jim Kerr often talks about hearing these bands that JC mentioned finally achieving success before his own band and how they were desperate to follow them into the charts.

    Simple Minds turned from their Roxy/Bowie/krautrock roots here and for the first time became influenced by a more contemporary approach, in terms of the clean-ness of the production and the massive pop hooks that drive this track.

    Also a factor in the metamorphosis is the fact they no longer had the drummer present who had been driving their sound from inception, and he had not yet been permanently replaced. That old aggressive attack in the rhythm track was missing, creating more space for the unique bass stylings of the inimitable Derek Forbes to take centre stage.

    The keyboards of Mick McNeill are also exquisite, shimmering and beautiful. I am sure I can hear a distant echo of the band’s compatriots, the chart residing Associates, at times in the keyboard sound.

    Promised You a Miracle to me is a stunning single, a dazzling and brilliant pop single, one that radiated great shards of light on to many a dark club dance floor. I love this record.

  3. Fantastic song and for me the lp was their peak. From a time when pop music meant imagination . I always thought Jim Kerr must have a relatively low ego for a lead singer . I am not sure many others would have been happy with a vocal so low in the mix ( until he got all Bono) . The guitars and keyboards often get all the credit , however listening to the lp now it is as much about driving rhythms of the bass and drums as it is about shimmering melodies

  4. Back at the time, I didn’t equate the “new sound” of PYAM as Simple Minds jumping on any sort of Pop bandwagon. While Peter Walsh may have been considered a “newbie,” was he really? He was certainly a known quantity at Virgin having been a producer on Heaven 17’s 1981 masterpiece Penthouse And Pavement, and working with China Crisis on their debut album which would come out not long after Simple Mind’s New Gold Dream.
    What was fascinating to me was that while the sound was more synth and bass-centric, the urgency was NOT gone from their sound. Promised You A Miracle is not languid or genteel, it speeds down a motorway, it soars into the sky. Derek Forbes bass playing is remarkable in its confidence and bravado and the manipulation of melody that Mick MacNeil managed was inspired and beautiful.

    In looking back at the the differences between Sons And Fascination and New Gold Dream, I still see a level of natural progression. Thematically, Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call dealt with themes of life and love in the modern world. New Gold Dream is like an abstract, sometimes utopian/dystopian response to this modern world.

  5. This was the second disc of Simple Minds I bought, following the 2×7” of “Sweat In Bullet,” though I bought the domestic US 12” version with two very different (superior, to the 30 seconds longer UK 12”) Steve Thompson remixes and a different “Sister Feelings Call” B-side with the 12” mix of “The American.” I was certainly loving this band after hearing about them for much of 80-81. Perhaps down to the transitory status of 2nd drummer Kenny Hyslop, who only played on this single, it really sounds apart from not only the earlier material of 1981, but also the rest of the “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” album. The arrangement is fleet of foot and angular. I can’t imagine dancing to this one but I wouldn’t mind trying.

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