Now, where do I start with this?
I’m not sure. The past 24 hours I have been, although celebrating the anniversary of Empires And Dance – it’s been giving me time to reflect on aspects of the music and my fandom.
There are several stepping stones my fandom took as I was discovering them properly. I guess I should use the word “REdiscovering” as I already knew of them and was a “fan” – but I use the quotation marks around the word because it felt very different then to what it does now. I was very fair-weather and knew very few songs outside of “the hits” and those songs would have only been from Once Upon A Time – the only Simple Minds album I had ever owned until “diehard” fandom took hold.
Unlike 2006, when the idea of exploring their back catalogue extensively took hold, but failed to actually TAKE HOLD, in 2014 I persevered. Kept moving on. In 2006 I listened to Life In A Day a few times, didn’t much warm to it, apart from (what I felt at the time) a few standout tracks and then just…gave up. I keep putting it down to just not being ready. So I remained a fair-weather “fan”. It needs the quotation marks because there is a clear distinction in how I was a fan of Simple Minds pre summer of 2014 to post summer of 2014. I mean, for instance, say…I like The Cure, I know some of their songs and really like them – I even bought a copy of In Between Days when it came out in 1985. I think I might bought a copy of Friday I’m In Love as well – but do I call myself a fan? Not really. I don’t own any of their stuff. I don’t really sit around and listen to them. And if I did listen to them, I’d probably only play the songs I know and like. Does that make you a fan? Not for me. That’s a “fan”. Let’s not forget that the word “fan” – to describe someone who has a particular affinity for a band, music artist, actor, painter, etc – is a derivative of the word “fanatic”.
Rather regretfully, it took another 8 years to be ready again. I started again chronologically, first with Life In A Day. The first change was…I wasn’t quite as dismissive of the album as I was in 2006. I could feel the burning embers of a spark. Although I still sat on the fence about it. This time more than just a few songs started to grab me. So instead of going “oh, I don’t know” and giving up, I went “Well, okay, I’m still not fully convinced here, let’s see what the next album offers” and I started listening to Real To Real Cacophony. Well, I think for a start you have to be open to the quirkiness of this album. As a concept – unlike Life In A Day before it – it really IS a mixed bag. But a great mixed bag! And they wear their experimental hearts on their sleeves with this, And I could hear it, feel it, appreciate it for exactly what it was. And it made me love things like Veldt for being just so…off the wall “out there”! Things like Factory and Premonition are just so strong and incredibly rounded and formed pieces of musical art. So very much an early indicator of how great Simple Minds are and could be. Other tracks are overlooked by fans but are just as incredible to me: Citizen (Dance Of Youth) – it has real political guts that song. And there are dance tracks too already with Changeling. Film Theme is a wonderful instrumental. Calling Your Name and Scar are slight throwbacks but still so strong. Scar is such a strange one. It already seems fully formed and is played live for several months in its previous form and then Jim goes and completely rewrites the lyrics! Lol. The same thing happened with Cocteau Twins/No Cure. You’re a curious (and very beautiful!) beast, Mr Kerr. Lol
As much of a hit and miss that Real To Real Cacophony seemed – for me it was much more “hit” than “miss”. I understood and appreciated the experimentation going on. In actual fact, I applauded it! I was much more won over by RTRC and was excited to move on to listen to Empires And Dance. And…oh my lord! How that album took hold of me. I can remember listening to it for first time genuinely AGASP at what I was hearing. I don’t think my jaw came back off the floor until the stylus got stuck on the inner end groove ring. Lol. A metaphor as I actually listened to it on Spotify. But…I was agasp. And remember sitting there just stunned that this was the same band that did Don’t You (Forget About Me).
It was the second side of the album (I know! I listened on Spotify but…anyway) that really sealed the deal for me. As masterful as I Travel, Today I Died Again, Celebrate and This Fear Of Gods was (and OMG – I can remember how slack jawed I already was listening to “Gods”), it was the three after that – Capital City, Twist/Run/Repulsion and Constantinople Line that I think PROPERLY, categorically, without a shadow of a doubt SEALED THE DEAL for me. After those three songs played – I was a Simple Minds FAN – no quotation marks needed any more.
Constantinople Line to me was like…film noir, a Hitchcock film in song…Strangers On A Train in song – espionage and John Le Carre – cloak and dagger – but with just a smattering of tongue-in-cheek matter-of-factness thrown in “these stations are useful, these stations we love them”.
Twist/Run/Repulsion is also film noir and deliberately jarring which makes it fucking AWESOME to me. I will never understand in a month of Sundays how Jim – still with a stutter that could trip him up quite often though getting more manageable with age (and exposure to being the band’s spokesman and poster boy) – was able to sing and deliver those lines. But I guess that is just that wonderfully headfuck aspect of a stutter in that those who suffer it can usually sing without any of the effects of it showing up in song.
So, yes. After yesterday’s celebration I can safely say that without Empires And Dance being there as the third album – as the “third time lucky” piece – I don’t think I’d be here on a blog called “Priptona’s Simple Minds Space” and have the URL of priptonaweird.co.uk – or be making art with the moniker “Priptona” or even be calling myself PRIPTONA. I mean…where would I have come up with such a silly name for myself without Minds? Without Jim?
And there was the other thing that happened. Once it was Empires And Dance, then I was off, trying to go through all the early live footage I could get my hands on. I wanted to SEE them then. I wanted to see how they looked and performed back then after that. And…nothing prepared me for how…in awe I would get with Jim. Again…it was an absolute jaw-drop moment. The first thing I watched was the Hurrah’s stuff. And I am watching thinking “fuck off this is Simple Minds. And that’s Jim Kerr! Give over!” Lol. “Look at the way he’s moving! OMG! He was fucking amazing! How did I never know this? How has this taken so long for me to be exposed to all this?!”
And I move on and just try and watch all the things I can find…and I find the French TV one. Celebrate. The leather. The tambourine. If I say any more on that…well…just…look at my blog, FFS! Lol – and it’s brief description “may contain a heavy dose of Jim Kerr.” MAY?! HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA! I really should change the “may” to “does”. It certainly would be a more accurate description. I could be taken to trading standards at the moment. Lol
And then we moved on to Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and the rest REALLY IS history from that point on.
So, here’s to Twist/Run/Repulsion! She doesn’t get enough love. But she is a “film noir” creepy, jarring, tongue-twisting little gem. I love her!