Good morning, everyone. Thanks to everyone who has visited the blog in recent weeks, read my review of the fantastic Themes For Great Cities: A New History of Simple Minds by Graeme Thomson, and entered the competition for the books.
Before I announce the winners I just want to say thanks for all the wonderful feedback I got from everyone for the review, it was really something. Especially when Graeme himself expressed words of gratitude for my review. So thanks to all. The feedback was humbly received.
And so without further ado the winners of a copy of Themes For Great Cities are….
KEV DOWEY and STUART GREAVES!
Congratulations to you both! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
I’ll be in touch with both of you shortly. And thanks once again to everyone who took the time to visit and enter the competition.
Don’t forget that the book is released this come Thursday, January 27th and is available to pre-order now. Currently priced at £14.49 on online bookseller hive.co.uk you can order and choose to collect it from your local independent bookseller free of charge. Home deliveries within the UK are also free. Click HERE for more info.
I had a hoard of memorabilia come in this week and in amongst it was this article, written by Graeme Thomson, none other! Featuring in The Guardian on February 24th, 2012, just as the 5×5 Live tour is getting under way.
We know how I feel about that. Goddamn! I was out by just over two years. I will forever rue it!
Some of the discussion that takes place between Graeme, Jim and Charlie during the interview for this article features in the Themes For Great Cities book.
I thought I’d scan the article and post it here. Just as a little taster of what’s to come next week.
A footnote (and a chance for me to be a pedantic pr*ck); the inset photo of Jim is from 1980. October, in fact. It’s one from the Tavistock Square session. The same session the photo on the book’s cover comes from.
There have been some other great reviews coming in for Graeme Thomson’s Themes For Great Cities book.
Firstly, Classic Pop magazine gave a glowing review. And recently, both Uncut and Electronic Sound magazines have reviewed it. The Electronic Sound review is succinct yet wonderfully positive. The Uncut review gives the book an 8/10 and its opinion of Graeme Thomson as a writer is wholly positive, but the rest of the review is rather backhanded and quite dismissive and scathing of the band. Almost as if the reviewer wondered why Thomson had bothered to waste his talent and energy in telling the Simple Minds story? Well, that’s how the review read to me anyway.
See what you think…
I still think my own review is the best of the lot of them so far. And I don’t usually plug myself with this much bravado! You can read my review HERE – and don’t forget that I am running a competition to win one of two copies of the book. Check the review post for details! The comp closes on Sunday, January 23rd.
Graeme himself was pretty awed by my review, as you can see below… I admit to being quite stunned by his reaction to it. And very humbled. A few tears were shed.
“This is a fast story”, author Graeme Thomson says at the beginning of the book and keeps reminding us a few more times further in.
It’s a story of the formative years of two pals from Toryglen, their school chum down the road, the keyboard player from the Chinese restaurant and the bass player that was meant to be a guitarist.
The focus is as one would hope – primarily on the music and the band itself. The meeting of five incredibly creative and gifted men and how those quite different young men come together to produce the alchemy that results in the early music of Simple Minds. We learn most about their creative and working lives. There is little about their individual backgrounds, only vaugaries that are relevant to the telling of the overall story.
Although the story is heavily focused on Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Mick MacNeil, Derek Forbes and Brian McGee, we also hear from others deeply involved in the story (if not necessarily within the band itself or the creation of the music). Jaine and David Henderson, Bruce Findlay, John Leckie, Simon Draper, Steve Hillage and Pete Walsh get mentioned and/or spoken to at length.
Graeme Thomson has been meticulous without dragging out the pace of the story. As he continues to reiterate through the book it is a fast story. Like the five men that feature most strongly within the story, there is not an ounce of fat on it. Nothing lags. Nothing is protracted. Succinct, yet never lacking in detail. If I had got around to writing a book about the band I love, then this is EXACTLY the book I hope I’d have written.
Along with content from interviews conducted with the primary band members, there is also input in the form of small “bridge” chapters from Bobby Gillespie, James Dean Bradfield and Ian Cook. There is also a dedicated “Q and A” interview chapter with art designer Malcolm Garrett.
Some never-before-seen (even by me!!) photos are contained within the two sections of photographic content within the book. A number of wonderful photos by Virginia Turbett are within. Rare gems from John Leckie and Carole Moss can also be found within.
There are things that I have questioned or pondered within my time as a Simple Minds fan that are discussed in the book. For instance, was the Life In A Day album already too “old” by the time it was released? Was Jim Kerr’s pudding bowl haircut a work of genius? Is Real To Real Cacophony one of the best albums they ever made? Is there anything that you cannot like about Empires And Dance? Why didn’t Grace Jones ever record a Simple Minds song? (Love Song gets singled out as the prime pondering here.) Can I ever stop my mind from wandering off to the object of my sexual desire when discussing Jim Kerr’s “Archimedes moment”? I may be the only person who grapples with that notion to be honest, but I am happy to keep on pondering it. “Eureka!”
If you want the WHOLE story of Simple Minds then this isn’t the book you want. But actually it IS the book you want. It is exactly the book you want! Because without this beginning, then there would be no “whole story”. This book is about the building blocks. That sandpit on the Toryglen building site where Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill met as eight year old boys is such a fantastic serendipitous metaphor for the whole story of Simple Minds. Getting a gang of workers together. Gathering the materials required. Assembling the parts. Laying the foundations and by album number six, having a cathedral to wow yourself (and others) with.
For the ardent Simple Minds fan, the book actually contains few new revelations. I don’t want that to be a disappointment to the ardent fan because Thomson tells the story so well you will find it utterly enthralling all the same. The retelling is compelling.
For anyone who is newer to the Simple Minds fold, or came to Simple Minds from the point of Once Upon A Time and hasn’t really explored their back catalogue extensively, I implore you to read this book.
For the diehards – YOU NEED THIS BOOK! It is a fast and exhilarating ride. The book jumps off around the time of the recording of Once Upon A Time. That’s a different tale to tell then.
I honestly have not enjoyed a book like this since I read The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg. With Pegg’s book it was the telling of the Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane years of the Bowie story that struck a chord most. The telling of Bowie’s meeting with Tony Defries and the MainMan years in particular. It made me “want in”. I wanted to be part of it. It fed the hunger of the dream to be in “the thick of it”. To be right in the cogs of that working machine.
I am feeling the same with how Graeme Thomson tells the Simple Minds story here. He takes you right in. I can feel myself in the recording studio. At Rockfield, walking about those barns and inside the studio, at the mixing desk. Watching John Leckie orchestrate these young guys as they get to grips with how to write songs and produce music that confounds and mesmerises, enthrals and bewilders.
To experience the “coming of age” of these young men, from the evolution of Jim Kerr as songwriter and stage performer, to Mick MacNeil finding his feet as a musical architect and composer, working alongside Charlie Burchill, it makes you appreciate more than ever what actual musical juggernauts both Burchill and MacNeil are. Also just what a bedrock the rhythm section of McGee and Forbes were together.
A tale told with utter distinction. I genuinely have not wanted to put this book down for a single moment since it arrived. Hide yourself away. Devour it at will. Gorge upon it! You won’t be disappointed. It is a feast. Then play those first six albums again with new ears and a newfound appreciation of the astonishing band Simple Minds are.
I have two copies of the book to give away. If you would like to win yourself a copy of “Themes For Great Cities: A New History of Simple Minds” by Graeme Thomson, simply answer the following question: In the book Jim Kerr tells of his “Archimedes moment” when writing the lyrics for which song? (Hint – search this website to find the answer.) Leave your answer in the comments section of this blog post. You’ll find the comments section at the bottom of the post titled “leave a comment” (you may have to scroll past the existing comments to leave your own unique comment. Fresh comments will provide me with details to contact the winners). If you have trouble with the comments section, you can also enter via the “contact me” form found HERE. All successful entries will go into the draw to win one of two copies of the book. The competition closes on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022 at 23.59 GMT. Winners will be notified shortly after. The competition is open worldwide. Good luck!
Of course Santa seemed to arrive early to Casa Read with the arrival of Graeme Thomson’s Themes For Great Cities (which I am just under halfway through and absolutely ITCHING to review here – but want to complete it first) a few days ago.
But he returned yesterday to deliver these…
All gratefully received. Books of Brilliant Things and BAKLAWA! GET IN!!! (MA BELLEH!!!)
This arrived in the post this morning. I am literally like a kid at Christmas!!! So very excited to be reviewing the book for the blog. The review will be up on the blog VERY soon. As will be details of a giveaway of copies of the book!
Exciting times. Keep an eye out for the review and more details on the giveaway shortly.
Seeing as it is the MMM before Christmas and there is not a SINGLE Simple Minds Christmas song – AND the boys performed this on Thursday night for me – I thought it appropriate that this year’s Minds Music Monday before Christmas should actually have a Christmas song….so it’s being hijacked by Warm Digits and their fab Good Enough For You This Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all that have visited the blog this year. It was a special one for celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. We’ll get to do it all again for the 40th Anniversary of the hallowed and lauded New Gold Dream in 2022.
Thank you also for all the feedback and kind words. Here’s hoping there will be much more to report in 2022. The year will start with more info of the book to be released later in January titled Theme For Great Cities. And I have something very exciting happening with that, so make sure you stay tuned.
Today is another day in which the excitement in me is quietly bubbling over.
I WANT TO KEEP THIS FEELING! I don’t want to lose it but equally I am scared of trying to hold onto it!
Let me explain!
I have spoken about it somewhat already in a recent post titled The ‘Off Topic’ Uni Student, explaining that I have enrolled to study at the Open University for a diploma in Higher Education in English.
The excitement is all wrapped up in the anticipation of actually having my part-time fee grant application with SASS approved. I am trying to keep an optimistic view. That the grant approval is a given and that I WILL be studying next year. Such a positive view I am sticking to means I have already taken other steps in getting myself into the mindset of being a student. Purchasing the set books required for my course module, applying for a library card giving me SCONUL access to other university libraries, checking the OU StudentHome site daily. Familiarising myself with the OU website and where things are and just keeping myself primed and enthusiastic to make that start.
Today my library card arrived. I have been to the University of Glasgow website this morning and was looking around the site for information on the university’s library and what I’d need to do for SCONUL access. Each university has its own criteria for SCONUL access. Disappointingly all I can see on UofG’s page about SCONUL access is their own students gaining access to other university libraries. No info on what is required of outside students wanting UofG library access. I think I will just have to visit the library itself one day soon. Hopefully in the next few days. It will also give me an excuse to see the Cloisters all lit up and pretty.
The main library is opposite the Huntarian and has TWELVE FLOORS! Yes. TWELVE! I think the biggest library I have been in up til now has had…maybe five? I think Luton’s central library has four floors, if memory serves me? And the main Liverpool library (back in Sydney – the nearest major “city” to where we lived was called Liverpool) had three, possibly four floors also. Most libraries I have been in have only had a single floor. I think the Mitchell Library only has two floors (correct me if I am wrong, Glaswegians)?
So, I am looking at the floor plan this morning and I am trying my best not to just want to dance about like a loon and go nuts! Lol. My excitement is palpable – but I need to keep it all measured and in check. I am so scared of being this excited and hyped and then it all disappears because SASS don’t approve my part-time fee grant application. These 28 days are going to feel sssoooo long!
Of course I KNOW I won’t have any need to use ALL of the UofG’s library services. I won’t be needing to visit all twelve floors of the main library! But it won’t stop me from having a keek at all the floors the first time I visit.
And, as a student from a different university, I can get access to the UofG’s other library branches – which includes the Library Research Annexe, which is only just down the road on Saracen Street! I can’t believe it is so nearby! It could potentially be an incredible resource for me as it holds microfilm and newspapers. Oh my days!
Anyway, this is a rambling kind of “days of a uni student” post. I still can’t even get my head around referring to myself as a “university student” right now. It just sounds like pish! Lol
I’m trying to stop myself from running before I can walk. I’m scared that all this enthusiasm will actually put the mockers on it, instead of putting me in good stead to start my course.
Certain aspects are still making me nervous. I mean, I did this tiny exercise on the OU site yesterday in which you had to give personal examples of three encounters you’d had with the arts and humanities in the past week and what made those encounters interesting to you – and my mind just went blank! I could come up with examples of encounters easily enough, but elaborating on what made those encounters interesting and not wanting to just answer “because” I found quite difficult. I am feeling daunted by it all too. And I am worried about if I will find my tutor someone I’ll get along with and be easy to reach out to. But of course all of that is all running before I can walk. But it’s positive to project ahead, right?
P.S. One day soon this blog MAY actually have some Simple Minds news to talk about!