It is by far the most revered Simple Minds instrumental in their canon. The band have never been one to shy away from putting an instrumental track (or three) on an album. From 1979’s Real To Real Cacophony having instrumentals ‘Cacophony’, ‘Film Theme’ and (the wonderfully off-the-wall and magic mushroom influenced) ‘Veldt’ on it, right up to 2002’s Cry with instrumental ‘The Floating World’, there have been some fabulous SM non-vocal tracks. My personal favourites include: Kant Kino, Somebody Up There Likes You, Shake Off The Ghosts, A Brass Band In African Chimes and Year Of The Dragon (I also have a soft spot for The Floating World – a rarity as Cry, along with Live In The City of Light are the Simple Minds albums I play the least – no reason needed to elaborate further).
I think we can all agree that Jim absolutely made the right choice not to force upon ‘Theme’ some lyrics and a vocal. It is perfect as it is. And the title he gave the track is all the input from him it ever needed. He sells it perfectly.
A further quote from Jim, appearing on the Dream Giver site, quotes him as saying, “One of the best moves I ever made was not to sing on Theme For Great Cities. I remember walking around with that in Glasgow on my new Sony Walkman thinking this is fucking perfect!” Amen to that, Jim!
Initially it was used for “intro” music on the Sons And Fascination tour and never was performed live until more recent years. Starting on – as coincidence would have it – The Floating World tour of 2002. And it’s been a fairly regular sight on the setlist since then. It was the opening number of the second half of the set on the 40 Years Of Hits Tour of 2020 (giving Jim an extra five minutes to down his lemon zinger) – until the Coronavirus pandemic stopped the tour in its tracks in Copenhagen.
There have also been several remixes recorded as well. A Moby Mix from 2012 which is…meh. The ‘91 Mix I’m not exactly enamoured with either – if you’re not familiar with it, listen HERE. And there is a couple of other mixes from the late 1990s – the Fila Brazilia Mix (also an alternate mix of it and an edited version too) and probably the only mix I actually like of all of them – the Fluke’s Atlantis Mix – there is also a Nissn Remix from 2009 – but that is my LEAST favourite of them all, tied with the gutless Moby Mix.
But who needs remixes of something that is absolutely PERFECT just as it is? Theme For Great Cities doesn’t need messing with! Jim knew that. Others should take heed! Stop it with your remixes! Leave it the fuck alone! Don’t mess with perfection, brother! Enjoy for what it is – one of the best instrumentals ever recorded. The YouTube link is further below. Take the extra five minutes and fifty seconds when you have read this post to play it and enjoy it. Play it loud! Use headphones/earphones if you need to and just…get transported to scenes from Blade Runner…see time-lapse footage of dark night cityscapes dazzle before your eyes. View the cover of the Sons And Fascination album (even though the track is on Sister Feelings Call – it’s not “dead wood”! Nothing on Sister Feelings Call is … with maybe one exception – but we’ll discuss that in a future post) and just…enjoy the ride.
I’ll leave the rest of it to Jim…
EDIT: There is a typo at the end of the text above. I am usually meticulous with making sure there are no typos with the these things, but this one slipped by. The last sentence SHOULD read “It might well have played a part in that.” “It” rather than “I”. Apologies if it led to any confusion.