THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Parts 11 & 12)

Some six weeks after Promised You A Miracle took its leave of the charts, the follow-up single was released:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Glittering Prize (edit)

Where I’d been a bit iffy about Promised You A Miracle, I pounced on Glittering Prize, telling anyone who cared to listen, that it was a magnificent piece of music whose shimmering majesty, particularly via its Associates-like guitar, bass and keyboard sounds, was the perfect soundtrack to the final few days of what had been the first long summer of my university years….I was happy and this song made me even happier.  I was certain it would be a massive hit, but it was very much a slow-burner, taking what seemed like ages to make its way into the Top 20 and only doing so at the same time as the LP New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) hit the shops.

Looking back, the lack of b-sides for Glittering Prize didn’t help, with just instrumental versions of different lengths appearing on the 7” and 12” releases, with no new tracks or old live recordings to flesh things out:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Glittering Prize (theme)

The new album went straight into the Top 10 on its release and a week later was Top 3 (the new Dire Straits album, Brothers In Arms, Love Over Gold, went straight in at #1 when New Gold Dream hit its peak).

Virgin Records were desperate to issue a third single from the album but had to hold off until Glittering Prize stopped selling and dropped out of the charts which it did in early November. Just two weeks later, the new single came in at #36,

but to the shock and surprise of all concerned, that’s as high as it got:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Someone Somewhere (In Summerime)

By general consensus, this was the highlight of the album and of the live shows the band were now playing to packed audiences. The 12” version even included a new extended introduction, one which Charlie Burchill had worked up during the live renditions and in doing so turned the song into a six-minute epic (and, although nobody knew it yet, gave an indication of what was about to come round the corner…..hiya U2!!)

mp3 : Simple Minds – Someone Somewhere (In Summertime) (extended)

Fans, however, seemed content with the fact they had bought the album, and perhaps it also suffered from the fact that many were also investing in what was by now an extensive back catalogue.

The band didn’t have much in the way of any new music for the b-side and so, for the 7” it was decided to offer up an early version of another track from New Gold Dream:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – King Is White and In The Crowd (session version)

This had been recorded back in February 1982 and broadcast on the Radio 1 evening show, hosted by David ‘Kid’ Jensen. It’s quite demo like, certainly in comparison to what was issued six months later on the album, providing evidence of the role that producer Pete Walsh had played in the studio.

The 12” did have a previously unreleased track:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Soundtrack For Every Heaven

It later transpired that the music had been worked on for what had hoped would be the tenth track on New Gold Dream but had been abandoned as the band hadn’t been able to do quite get what they were looking for. In effect, what you have, is an unfinished demo……………..

New Gold Dream was placed high in just about every list typed up by the critics in their consideration of the best records of 1982. Simple Minds were now, at long last, a household name, and had even solved their drummer conundrum by keeping session player Mel Gaynor for the live shows and offering him a permanent position for going back into the studio for the follow-up.

JC

10 thoughts on “THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Parts 11 & 12)

  1. Their peak in 2 singles. Funny how time stretched shrinks. I would never have put Brothers in Arms and NGD in the same album chart! Some kind of symbolic death of smart pop music and birth of corporate blandness

  2. I concur- this is an excellent series and a genuine education for me. The discovery of Simple Minds early works has been a revelation for me in recent years.

  3. My mistake…..the album I should have mentioned in the piece was ‘Love Over Gold’ which I’ve mixed up with ‘Brothers in Arms’. I’ll get it corrected

  4. 1982 was a year of great singles and Glittering Prize was amongst the very best of that year, a fact not lost on Radio One DJs, my school friends, and music critics like Paul Morley who now placed Simple Minds at the very apex of his New Pop theory.

    Glittering Prize gained the band an awful lot of new fans but it was immensely gratifying that they achieved wilder popularity while retaining so much of what made them good in the first place (the art-rock sensibilities, the bass, the synths) but with the sudden burgeoning of a massive pop sensibility and a dazzling surface sheen in the production.

    I have often wondered what would have happened if Associates, had done what they should have done and released Skipping as the follow up to Club Country but tbh we probably already have the answer in the poor showing chart wise of Someone Somewhere in Summertime which somewhat dented the commercial momentum built up by the previous 2 hit singles. It was probably just too arty to be picked up by the people that needed to pick up on it to give it the required airplay. It probably confounded the likes of The Peter Piwell’s, DLT’s and Steve Wright’s. I certainly don’t remember hearing it on radio much.

    Not that it really mattered because, in it’s more effective setting as the opening track to the (now) timeless classic album that is New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) it made much more sense and would be greater appreciated.

    There was little in the previous year’s Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call that pointed to the glorious golden seam the Minds were about to mine. And that’s not meant as a criticism, I also cherish those albums very dearly, it’s just a comment on how astonishing a leap it was that the following year they sounded as opulent as this. The album is as art-rock as anything the band had recorded previously, it has dance floor appeal, but those strengths are now enormously enhanced by being allied to a new fluid shimmering melodic confidence and great big pop hooks, and all the players bringing their absolute A game to every track. It is a beautiful listen from start to finish that really takes the listener on a journey that you don’t want to ever end.

    A wee aside. It is also very much a one off. As beautiful and rich a seam as this album is, it also proved to be a surprisingly narrow one. As JC alluded to in his piece, there really was no additional leftover material in a similar vein. I had always liked need for New Gold Dream to be given the expanded treatment, imagining what other previously unheard golden gems might be unearthed. When it finally did get an expanded version, the answer sadly is precisely none, as the album is made up by remix after remix of the familiar album tracks. I am such a fan that I actually really enjoyed immersing myself in these different versions. And maybe it is just perfect as it is that there are just these 9 tracks and no more.

  5. Such a brilliant album, and a shame about the stall performance of Someone as single, especially considering (IMHO) the first single, PYAM, is the weakest track of the album. With Sons & Fascination/Sisters Feeling Call and New Gold Dream they had a trio of albums any band would be happy to achieve in a career.
    To me, however, they just wound downwards after this glimmering peak. I stayed on another 2 albums but then I definitely had it. Still cherish the years concluded by this masterpiece.

  6. Much as I love the individual elements, I tend to think the album works best listened to as a continuous whole (which I usually do when listening to it). Such a wonderful album – still an all-time favourite.

  7. Once I got my hands on New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) and certainly in hindsight, The Glittering Prize would not have been my choice for the follow up to Promised You A Miracle. That honor, in my opinion, should have gone to the album’s title track.
    While TGP is a shimmering, passionate song, what I wanted was more of that interplay between Forbes and McNeil – especially any focus on the heartbeat of the band, Derek Forbes bass. From the standpoint of Virgin, I am also surprised that the earworm of a hook, the simple “81, 82, 83, 84..” didn’t seal it as a single.
    I’m also not really surprised that Someone, Somewhere, in Summertime didn’t light up the charts. It was a very “arty” choice – one that by the end of 82 was competing in a whirlpool of different pop styles and sounds.
    What is wonderful about SSiS is Charlie Burchill’s guitar. He reached a level of sonic beauty on the track that stands out among his career’s work. He is most certainly a guitarist who had an impact on other guitarists we can name and SSiS is all you need to bare evidence.

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