Empires and Dance – Simple Minds (1980)
Here’s where I begin to wonder if I’m boring you with repetition in this rundown.
I don’t think any of the albums featured thus far will have raised any eyebrows, and I’m sure that none of the remaining 34 will be the least bit surprising. But that’s the problem of having been churning out the blog for what is now coming up for 17 years – I’ve probably said all I really need to say, or indeed want to say, on so many records, groups or singers. But here’s something a bit different about one of the best-known groups to ever emerge out of Glasgow.
I’ve never hidden my love for early-era Simple Minds, right up to New Gold Dream, and some of what would appear on 1984’s Sparkle In The Rain. Not too long ago, I had a long chat with a good friend who is somewhere around 10 years younger than me. His earliest memories of the band is Once Upon A Time, the 1985 ‘stadium-rock’ effort that took Simple Minds to a bigger audience, at the cost of leaving behind the sounds that had made them an essential part of the post-punk era. He is firmly of the belief that songs such as Alive and Kicking, All The Things She Said and Sanctify Yourself are their greatest songs. He maintains this view, and it’s one I admire, as he has gone into the back catalogue and is also someone who is not afraid to champion great music from many eras that are alien to him.
I, of course, disagree with him. In the strongest possible terms! But, as I’ve said many times in many places, musical taste is very much a personal thing and there’s not really a right or wrong answer when it all comes down to it.
The odds on anyone out there on Planet Earth coming up with the same 60 albums as will be found in this rundown will be astronomical. Indeed, I think it’s nigh on impossible. Empires and Dance might feature on a few lists, but there’s plenty folk out there who, if any Simple Minds record was to feature, would offer up something else. And fair play to them.
This is a record that should have been massive, except that the record company made a mess of things. And in particular, one song suffered really badly:-
I’ve said before, (see what I was saying at the beginning of this post!!!!), that it’s a cross between disco-stomping Giorgio Moroder and early experimental Roxy Music, but played at 100mph, coming with an almighty punch in which every member of the band played/sang as if their very future existence depended on it. The remainder of the album goes to corners and places that not many people in Glasgow were aware of back in 1980. It’s an album that has aged quite spectacularly, with folk as diverse as James Dean Bradfield, John Foxx and Julian Cope among the many who have given it the highest possible praise.
But as my mate would say, it’s not a patch on Once Upon A Time……..
11 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #35 is”
Completely agree re early Simple Minds – having seen the classic Kerr, Burchill, Forbes, MacNeil, McGee lineup play in the Glasgow School of Art in Dec 1978, I became a big fan but I bailed out at New Gold Dream. I Travel is an iconic track – a ‘floor filler’ as we used to say when we were young…
I Travel is massive, but I’d be stuck in whether Sons & Fascination or New Gold Dream would be my entry. Probably S&F (with it’s companion SFC) is the pinnacle of Simple Minds in my (humble) view.
And that is the miracle of music. One person’s pinnacle of Simple Minds is another one’s knife in the heart!! Alas, your friend can bask in the former while we bring our wailing and lamentation to the latter! Of all of the soul-crushing artistic volte-faces that are out there in the world of music, I’m of the opinion that “Once Upon A Time” is even more disappointing than Bowie’s “Let’s Dance!” For the simple reason that Bowie never made an album as great as “Empires + Dance!” Though he came close with “Diamond Dogs.”
I’m only 3 years younger than you and I agree with your mate!
Top choice! I have to agree it is not my favourite Simple Minds album which would be New Gold Dream because it holds up as a complete piece of work and it came out in my last year at school. However, E&D is the one I play now most often. ‘This fear of gods’ I like the best simply because ‘I travel’ got danced too so much in the 1980s – while ‘Tfog’ still sounds out there. I too parted ways at ‘Once upon a time’ but have seen them subsequently. Ged Grimes is a great bass player – but he is not Derek Forbes. Jim Kerr is an absolute tool & whoever writes the lyrics is as poor as they were when much much younger. Burchill is the band’s saving grace. They should stay away from religion, covers & the Velvet Underground. As you can see, I dont feel strongly about them at all….
Such a magnificent album – love it still!!!
Simple Minds with Derek Forbes = awesome.
Simple Minds after Derek Forbes = eh.
JC in the right again.
I’m a bit like your mate in that, being a little bit younger than you, I discovered SM through Once Upon A Time. However, I’m with you that the early stuff is FAR superior, especially Empires & Dance. I actually wrote about it myself a whole NINE years ago… https://isthis-thelife.blogspot.com/2014/03/great-minds.html
I was never a fan of their anthemic albums. But having listened to Sparkle and Once I’ve revised my opinion of them. They’re actually a really good listen that have stood the test of time. However the ones after are rubbish.
Such a great song- we talked about SM fairly recently, early SM being one of my biggest listens in recent years. Think I’d go for Sons and Fascination/ Sister Feelings Call but I can’t argue with Empire.
I saw Simple Minds (for the 3rd time) when New Gold Dream came out. At the end of their set they went off and as was the norm the crowd’s cheers brought them back on stage. But instead of playing an encore they just stood and waved at the fans and shook hands down the front – a fucking curtain call!! We knew then that they were done…
Agree with most of the above comments – but blimey, postpunkmonk: “Bowie never made an album as great as Empires and Dance”?!? PROVOCATEUR!!!!